R E V I E W 15 However, we now have a more rounded capacity to deliver services, and a more sustainable business infrastructure to maintain them, so it is also time for us to do some more forward planning. FORWARD PLANNING Since 2012 we have been exploring the challenges around our governance, to reflect the changing contexts for our organisational representation, capacity and aspirations. The IHBC originated in 1981 as the Association of Conservation Officers in a world supported by volunteers with only occasional office support. Back then, climate change was still a niche issue. Apples were for eating and windows for looking out of. Our competitor- partners were more often small amenity societies than big professional bodies and most of the people who would go on to become members were then learning their skills in public services, in local planning departments. Conservation was often the fun slipstream coming out of what the DoE called ‘repair, maintenance and improvement’. For others, myself included, it was an exciting new world that opened out from an academic fascination with culture, history and places. It is still like that for some early career practitioners, but for others such views probably sound impossibly quaint. In either case, we are now duty- bound to follow the virtuous circle that has taken us to where we are today. We need to plan ahead to ensure that our organisation is fit for purpose, today and for the future. Our plans and structures must underpin what we want to do; what we want to do is what we need to do; what we need to do is what we say we are doing, and, crucially, that what we say we are doing actually can be done because our organisation is fit for purpose. THE STATE OF PLAY To see where we should be looking from, let me list some headline points on our current standing. (With so much going on, there is simply not enough room for more detail below, so please go to our website if you need more.) Resources We raised our surplus in the last financial year by 50 per cent, up from about £28,000 the year before. Under our trustees’ guidance, this capacity should ensure we deliver fully on our charitable and corporate objectives, fulfilling a central aspiration of our members. Our skills complement – our human resources – is no less impressive, reflected in the diverse competencies in our national office staff and the bedrock of volunteer capacity that underpins so much of what we do. Membership The number of members subscribing to our Code of Conduct was static last year, but still we’re at least 50 per cent up on where we were before the national office was developed. And we are launching a suite of support tools and resources for those working towards full accreditation by IHBC: • TeamStarter , for teams looking to build capacity in conservation • WebStarter , for individuals • ‘staged’ accreditation, to support those developing skills incrementally, especially those without access to dedicated conservation planning training in public service • and online tools and dedicated feedback, guidance and support, all linked to a credible (if admittedly small) CPD monitoring programme. Education We have secured National Occupational Standards, a bureaucratic measure of critical significance for any profession defining itself to government, years ahead of our initial expectations, while also usefully defining our support for vocational education. Annual schools generate revenue that supports branches and bursaries. Our website is increasingly a starting point for learning rather than an end-point for those looking for accreditation. The Gus Astley Student Awards have disbursed the equivalent of £20,000 in student support since the scheme was launched in 2007, while vibrant regional and local events, resources and networks continue to be delivered by our branches. Policy We have secured endorsement for IHBC membership criteria as a preferred standard in the construction industry under the most testing review of conservation consents in recent years (England’s Penfold Review ). We can boast a legacy of consultation responses that includes leading on heritage legislation advice that represented ¼ million built environment professional memberships. As a matter of course we are also consolidating opinion across specialist private, public and third sector interests in ways that most national bodies have completely failed to register. Communications The NewsBlog email alerts (with over 7,000 items in the archive) are a resource available to all 2,200 or so members, with easy options to send our messages into our active digital social network, which now has around 7,000 links. The IHBC website now gets about 300,000 unique visits a month (from an average of 60,000 in 2011). Our jobs service delivers the good news to members’ desktops or mobile phones at the rate of about three per week, and most of our publications are openly accessible online. This is just part of a story that we want to continue, and as we review our structures to recognise the new world we have helped to create, we look once again to our members, colleagues and supporters to help guide us forward as we make sure we remain fit for purpose. Seán O’Reilly, firstname.lastname@example.org The Gus Astley Student Awards at the 2013 Annual School in Carlisle: the scheme has disbursed the equivalent of £20,000 in student support since it was launched in 2007.