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Wednesday 12 October 2005
Get up, stand up

Mark Davis, Dons Trust Secretary, gives reasons why DT members should come forward as candidates in the elections to the Board. It's not all prawn sandwiches but it's not sackcloth-and-ashes either.

Elections - what elections?

DT members should by now have received a letter or e-mail announcing the 2005 elections. This year there are six places up for grabs on the Board and we are looking to cast the net as widely as possible among our membership to fill them. This is your chance to make a real difference to the future of the Dons Trust and AFC Wimbledon. If that prospect excites you, then read on.

Boards ? who needs them?

So far, the Dons Trust has had a pretty eventful four years. A Supporters Society was born, lots of members joined, our football club absconded, and so we formed another. Then what happened? We bought a stadium and raised millions of pounds for it (and still need plenty more). Time for a rest? No. We set up a youth academy, took over a Ladies football team, started a community programme. Oh, and the football club?s been doing pretty well too.

I say ?we? in all this, because around 2,000 members, and countless volunteers, have been part of this roller-coaster ride. But at the helm throughout has been the Dons Trust Board. And the role the Board has played has not always been an easy one ? analysing complex situations, taking tough decisions, representing members? views and interests. And doing plenty of the legwork too. Oh, and managing day-jobs and family lives as well.

In many ways, of course, the roller-coaster ride is becoming smoother as the organisation approaches maturity. But this new phase also throws up new challenges. Is the DT?s Constitution still fit-for-purpose? What is the most effective way of overseeing the club? How should risks be managed? And how to keep on course for the DT?s long-term aims? All these questions occupy the Board, as well as managing day-to-day DT business.

Why stand?

It won?t come as a surprise to learn that serving on the DT Board is quite hard work. With very few perks attached (save the occasional civic reception). The rewards, however, are very real.

First, the opportunity to make a difference. You have the opportunity to preserve and set the direction for a football club we all care about passionately. And to build on that with the DT?s other activities (ladies, youth, community, etc.) This is not a well-trodden path. But, if we get it right, others will continue to follow (witness the growing list of supporter-owned clubs, some inspired by what AFC Wimbledon has achieved).

Second, the opportunity to do some interesting work. The issues we face as a Trust are complex but fascinating. How best to involve our membership in the running of the Society? How to manage an organisation run almost entirely by volunteers? How to set the direction for one of the country?s largest non-league football clubs? How to put something back into our community? And, when you?ve come up with the answers, how to put it all into practice most effectively?

Third, the opportunity to brush up existing skills or to acquire some new ones. Do you want to learn more about project management, teamworking, communications, community engagement, fundraising? Here?s your opportunity ? not at all bad for your CV, if that?s what you need.

Fourth, the opportunity to get to know lots of people associated with the club. Not only the people you will work closely with on the Board but many of the volunteers and DT membership in general. And being a well known face in the first place is not necessarily a requirement of being elected.

What attributes are needed?

You do not require specialist skills or prior experience of serving on a Board to stand for election or to play a full part on the Board. Of course, such skills could be useful, but the Board has the option of co-opting additional members to bring in specialist skills which the elected Board members may lack.

But you will need energy, commitment, integrity, the ability to work as part of a diverse team and a passion for furthering the aims of the Dons Trust. If this sounds like you, then step forward.

What does a Board member do?

Board members have two sorts of responsibility. The first is as a general member of the Board, attending monthly Board meetings, considering issues presented by your colleagues, representing the Board at General Meetings. In practice, quite a lot of the Board?s business is done by e-mail between meetings so as to maximise scarce time at Board meetings for business that needs to be conducted face to face.

Second, Board members typically take on a specific area of responsibility. In some cases, these are roles on the AFC Wimbledon Boards; in other cases roles for the Dons Trust (these are shown in the Dons Trust?s Quarterly Reports). This work is very varied and provides the opportunity to play to your strengths. A number of Board members are supported by working groups in performing these tasks, which can help to share the workload.

What next?

If you are interested in standing, but need a feel for how the Board operates, then you might look at the minutes of DT Board meetings. These are accessible via the Dons Trust section of this website and can be found here. If you still have questions, then e-mail me at secretary@thedonstrust.org

For more information, the following documents can be accessed via the links below:

? Letter from the Secretary of the Dons Trust to members (40kb);
? Nomination forms (32kb);
? Election rules policy (including conflict of interests policy) (108kb).

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