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Despairing of useless charity committee

(22 Posts)
Dragonella Thu 01-Aug-19 20:00:44

In April, my DH and I signed up to the committee for a local branch of a veterans' charity which was currently failing. Now we know why! Almost all the members are in their 70s/80s/90s and no one wants to DO anything! The Chairman is ill and does nothing, the rest of the committee do bugger all except the Treasurer does deal with the money.

DH and I are running awareness/donation stands at interesting venues, sending out a happy and positive monthly newsletter, attending every meeting. We tried a survey with 9 tick-the-box questions asking the members what they want, do they need help, how they'd like to be involved. Out of 130 members, we got 8 replies - even the Chairman didn't bother to reply!

I am at a loss to know how to revitalise this branch who were so desperate not to close, but now seem to want it to keep running on fresh air without any input from them. Only about 10 people attend the meetings, and give no help at other times. The two who do help are moving house and joining another branch this month.

We have no clubhouse and no other nearby branches.

It's only been a few months, but if we had realised we would have to build the whole thing from scratch including members, tbh we wouldn't have bothered.

Any suggestions?

B9exchange Thu 01-Aug-19 21:02:30

Depends how much effort you personally are prepared to put in, I am afraid. Age is not the problem, I work with charities who have very committed and active members in their 70s and 80s, but it sounds as though your committee has got tired and given up.

If you are determined to resurrect it, then you are going to have to take the lead, come up with a plan and ask the committee to adopt it. The plan would obviously include roles for each of them to agree to work on. If you meet resistance, then I am afraid it is a lost cause.

NotSpaghetti Thu 01-Aug-19 21:12:26

Sounds exactly like my local branch of Age Concern. Sadly it has been like this for years and I have no idea what can be done.
I hope you have more luck dragonella

Elegran Thu 01-Aug-19 21:26:24

I don't think you can do much without the backing of the Chairman. He sets the tone of committee meetings, and co-ordintaes the rest (or he should) Are you prepared to ask him whether it is getting too much for him now that he is ill, and to offer to take his place?

If you do take over, you may have to risk making yourself unpopular for a while - but if the charity is worth reviving, it would be worth it, and it sounds as though you have already had enough, so if you meet too much resistance you could always leave!

At a committee meeting

1) Produce a copy of your survey for each committee member and tell them what you have posted here - that of 130 members you have only had 8 replies, and you would like the committee at least to fill them in so that you - and everyone else- knows "what they want, do they need help, how they'd like to be involved"

2) Add that you would particularly like to know how the members of the committee would like to be involved, since they are the ones who run the charity. Tell them how much there is to do to make the charity successful. Have a list handy to read out, which you made earlier, with big things and small things which have to be carried out for it to function. Emphasise that without these tasks, the whole enterprise falls down, and you are not able to take them all on yourself.

3) Ask who would like each of the tasks you have listed. Keep a few small things up your sleeve, and if some people don't step forward for anything (very likely) fix them with a beady eye and ask, " Betty, you are so good at baking, perhaps you and Alice could take on the tea break?" or "Jim, your car has such a big boot, would it have room for the ZZZZ we regularly buy at the cash and carry?"

4) A week or two before the next committee meeting, phone each of them in turn to ask how they are getting on with the things they said they would do,, You will probably have to help some of them out, but make sue they are with you when you help them - not skiving off and letting you do it, (for the next occasion, check up on those people earlier and guide them into doing it, don't take it on although it seems it would be quicker, or you will be doing it for ever.)

5) At the next meeting, give profuse thanks to those who have done things, even if it took blood, sweat and tears (yours) and discuss with them how they will tackle any problems they met.

The details of recruitment, funding, publicity and so on are a whole other subject, which I cvan't be much help with, but there are websites with advice, if you still feel that you want to tackle these aspects as well as the general apathy..

Nannarose Thu 01-Aug-19 21:33:20

This sounds like a local branch of a larger (national?) charity. I suggest that at the next meeting you ask for an agenda item on the running of the local branch and suggest that you contact the parent organisation for advice and support.
If the committee don't want to do this, then either resign, or contact the main charity yourselves (though if the branch ticks over they may not want to get involved)

A fairly common problem I'm afraid .If this is a cause dear to you, you could offer your services to another branch, or a similar more enthusiastic charity.

Dragonella Thu 01-Aug-19 23:04:28

@Elegran I really don't want to be Chairman, and I understand that he accepted the post only so we could keep running - but I do wish he'd show an interest... or at least read my emails!

@Nannarose the parent organisation have been supportive, but what I need is some actual people on the ground to do stuff!

Callistemon Thu 01-Aug-19 23:22:15

The trouble is that many charities are staggering along with committees consisting of people in their 80s and 90s and younger people are often just not interested and cannot be bothered to make the effort.

I would suggest that you try hard to look for new, younger members and encourage them to take part and perhaps the people in their 80s and 90s, who have probably worked their hardest to keep it all going for many years, can retire - they deserve it.

You say that the Chairman does nothing but also that he is ill - perhaps that is why.

You're not going to inspire people by being offensive and saying that they do bugger all though. They have probably kept this charity going for very many years.

kittylester Fri 02-Aug-19 07:33:03

Dragonella, I wonder if your need to change things and your attitude to the current Committee is putting people's backs up?

Elegran Fri 02-Aug-19 09:11:10

Dragonella If you and our husband are the only people on the committee with any energy and imagination, and the chairman is ill and dispirited, then you are the de facto chairpeople, whatever your official position, and however you feel about it.

kitty there can come a point in an organisation when the only way to kick it into life is to so put up the backs of those who are not really running it that they either change completely or they flounce out in high dudgeon and others take over.

Dragonella may have to choose between taking over or abandoning them. Staying without seeing any results would be soul-destroying for her and husband- and not any help to them. Better leave them to their fate than join them in inertia.

Callistemon Fri 02-Aug-19 09:39:38

kittylester that thought occurred to me too.

Presumably this is a branch of a national charity and I am not unfamiliar with the scenario.
It could be a good idea to try to find out some of the history of the branch and why this has happened now. Yes, some involved in charity work in their eighties may still be enthusiastic but in my experience that can change quite quickly as ill health begins to intervene.
Another consideration is timing of meetings and local transport - the lack of buses prevented many older people going out in the evening.

I don't think you can blame the older committee members as maybe they have put their all into this for years and perhaps their present lack of enthusiasm reflects what you are now experiencing.
Perhaps they have tried to recruit younger volunteers and have experienced what you are now facing.

Instead of questionnaires perhaps a friendly chat or phone calls may help you to understand why this is happening.

Callistemon Fri 02-Aug-19 09:41:54

Are you sure your emails have gone through?

Another reason for a friendly chat or phone call.

SalsaQueen Fri 02-Aug-19 18:40:25

You have my sympathies.

I work for a charity, as a Day Centre Manager. The place has been going for 20 years, I've been there for 2 years. The treasurer has been excellent in raising money, getting donations, etc., but then in April, she told the Trustee Chairman that funds would only last until September. She suggested a number of measures. She had no reply, nothing.

In June, she told the Chairman again (this woman works full-time in a different city and we never see her). A meeting was called for 2 weeks later. The meeting went ahead, still, nothing was resolved. The Treasurer then went off sick a few days ago (she's not ill, she told me she'd planned to get signed off work). The Chairman was away in Spain, on holiday, went that day. She advised that the day centre shut immediately (Fridays and Tuesdays), so I had the job of ringing every person who attends, plus transport and entertainment companies, and I had to cancel our planned day out, reimburse everyone.

The Treasurer handed in her notice in today - she's been strategic in this, as she won't have to work her notice, she's "off sick".

The 3 volunteers (one has been there for 20 years) and all the people who love the day centre have been left high and dry, and I'm out of work, at the age of 60.

Bloody trustees.

Sorry I can't help, but I understand how you must feel.

Seakay Fri 02-Aug-19 18:51:31

SalsaQueen if you know the Treasurer isn't sick, then I don't understand why are you colluding with her lies and fraudulent behaviour?

Callistemon Fri 02-Aug-19 20:10:23

SalsaQueen that all sounds rather odd.
Perhaps you should follow this up?
You obviously have paid staff as well as volunteers, whereas the type of charity I have posted about are all volunteers and keeping going despite their age and various medical conditions!
Still trying to raise money for people who are probably fitter than them.

kittylester Fri 02-Aug-19 20:33:19

Elegran, I realise that there need to be movers and shakers on a committee but feel they should have some diplomacy skills too.

Elegran Fri 02-Aug-19 20:46:37

I don't think I advocated any lack of diplomacy, but the OP says that the organisation is clearly failing and almost all of the committee are getting on in years and appear to be doing nothing at all to prevent it closing. Perhaps it is time that they retired and a new batch of younger and more enthusiastic committee members takes their place. However, it is a well-known fact that when people have been on a committee since the year dot, they are highly resistant to leaving. If diplomacy fails to get them either contributing or moving over so that someone else can contribute, then dislike of the new broom may do the trick instead.

Callistemon Fri 02-Aug-19 23:27:05

However, it is a well-known fact that when people have been on a committee since the year dot, they are highly resistant to leaving.
Not necessarily. In our experience (well, DH's) he and the rest of the committees would love to hand over to younger people with energy and enthusiasm but none are forthcoming.
So those in their late 70s and 80s plod on, doing a great job, raising money for charity but hoping that one day younger people may show the same enthusiasm that they all have over the years.

Elegran Sat 03-Aug-19 08:44:53

Not necessarily - but it does seem so in the OP's case.

SalsaQueen Sat 03-Aug-19 17:38:39

seakay. I'm not colluding with anything! She told me she was thinking of getting signed off sick, and her doctor has signed her off - what do you think I am supposed to have done? It makes no difference now, as since I posted earlier, I've had a letter saying they are making me redundant.

Dragonella Mon 05-Aug-19 15:22:25

Elegran, I haven't been undiplomatic to the other committee members - far from it. I understand fully that our Chairman is merely a place-holder who is genuinely ill and can't be expected to do anything. He would gladly resign if someone else would be Chair, but no one will even take on the Vice-Chair role. Apart from me and my DH and the Treasurer, there's only one other person on the committee and his role is specifically on the welfare side. He's busy with other volunteer roles and doesn't do anything else for us, doesn't even attend meetings. My frustration is not so much with any of them, but with the current members who don't want to join the committee or be involved in any way. I will carry on until the next AGM in April, but unless I can see any improvement we will be leaving and the branch will just have to close.

Callistemon Mon 05-Aug-19 15:29:15

It's a pity, Dragonella but it does seem to be happening these days.
perhaps people are just too busy, I don't know.

Elegran Mon 05-Aug-19 16:09:56

I didn't think you had been, Dragonella. I agree with you, if none of the members will take on any roles, you will have to give up and let the branch close. Perhaps realising that it is heading for closure may make some of them step forward, but I doubt it.