by Richard Steel

Strengthening Socitm Social Responsibility

Nov 05, 20085 mins
IT Strategy

Yesterday, I neglected to mention an exciting development, discussed at a breakfast meeting that Adrian, David and I had with William Hoyle, Chief Executive of CTT – “ Charity Technology Trust ”.

William was representing CITRA – the “Charity IT Resource Alliance”, with whom talks concerning a merger with Socitm are at an advanced stage. In a recent EGM CITRA members agreed to the plan, which should see CIRA becoming a special interest group within Socitm.

We are in the process of final “due diligence” and hope to make a formal announcement soon, for implementation from 1st January.

We have also agreed cross-representation between the boards of Socitm and the CCitDG – “ Charities Consortium IT Directors’ Group ”, which is composed of the Heads of ICT from the major UK Charities.

The Socitm Board met today.

Steve Hopson, the Senior Vice President, had earlier advised us that, because of Local Government reorganisation in Cheshire (the county is being split in two from next April) he is unsure of whether he will be in a position to fulfil the duties of Socitm’s next President, taking-over from me in April.

It was therefore suggested that Steve Palmer – the current second Vice President – should succeed me, which he has agreed with his employer, and Steve H will remain as Vice President for a further year.

All subject, of course, to Member approval at our next AGM. The board supported these proposals.

Whilst it shared in the personal disappointment that Steve H felt at the position in which he found himself, one of the reasons that we have three Vice Presidents is to enable us to cope with such circumstances, and the board was grateful to both Steves for their flexibility and pragmatism.

The Society’s budgetary position is continuing to improve, and there are signs that the new arrangements with Socitm Consulting are working well.

David Houston presented the initial Base Budget for 2009, which has a number of important provisions supporting continued development of the Society and, for the first time, makes explicit provision for annual commitments, such as the President’s International costs(!) and office administration and training budgets.

The Business Plan for Socitm Insight was also presented. This now ensures that Insight picks-up agreed overhead costs of the Society’s support for its business, and requires a 15% revenue return to the Society. T

his approach is both more businesslike and fairer to Insight which, in the past, has had revenue contribution targets arbitrarily increased to help cover Society deficits!

The Board had also asked David to prepare a report back on progress made against the Affiliates recommendations (24th April, 2008). I’m very glad to say that this was extremely positive. I will provide a copy when I am certain that it has been endorsed by the affiliates (with some minor redaction of commercially sensitive information).

There was some discussion of the National Advisory Council and Socitm Futures, and of some confusion or misunderstanding of their roles. I am to write to their Chairs to clarify the position.

In summary, this is that the Board runs the Socitm Business; the NAC is the primary body representing the Socitm membership, and responsible for nominating the membership of Socitm Futures – the Society’s research arm, and the body responsible for developing the Society’s policies.

We agreed to suggest to the NAC that it determines the membership’s policy priorities – probably by a survey – as we clearly don’t have the capacity to work on everything at the same time.

Security, and vision thereon, is already the implicit top priority, and I would hope that will be confirmed. It’s important to note, too, that under its protocol for policy development, all policy proposals developed by Socitm Futures will also be subject to mandatory thirty days’ consultation via the Socitm website before they can be enacted by the Board.

I am also to request monthly progress updates to the Board from the NAC Chair.

At its last meeting, the NAC did ask the Board to nominate a Director responsible for Member communications. We are still in the throes of setting-up a Member Benefits Board, which will provide a natural home for such a Director but, in the meantime, we’ve agreed it’s me!

The initial report-back from the annual Socitm Conference confirms it was the most successful in a long time – in all respects, numbers attending, the exhibition, attendees’ and exhibitors’ feedback.

Whilst we are, of course, delighted at that news (and congratulations, again, to the Events Team for a tremendous job) we can’t afford to rest on our laurels!

The Board requested the recently appointed Events Review Working Party to present its specification of requirements, and a schedule for implementation of its recommendations, to the February meeting of the Socitm Board of Directors.

Some of the considerations are – separate country conferences supporting the agenda of devolved administrations? A permanent venue for UK Conferences? Centralised support for regional events planning? Out-sourcing or partnership with other media and/ or events organisations?

A great deal of other business was covered by the Board, but perhaps the most noteworthy remaining item was that She Cobley, our Board Advisor until she is succeeded by Frances Kettleday, this year’s Graham Williamson Challenge winner, in April, will host a Board Workshop to consider how the Society should develop its Member Services to embrace its wider membership following the decision taken at last month’s EGM.