Date: 2015-11-24 11:13 pm (UTC)
ruric: (0)
From: [personal profile] ruric
Thanks for this - makes for interesting reading.

The 990's seem to be up there now - the 2014 one certainly is.

Financially I think there are a couple of routes to addressing people's concerns.

a) Make the finance/account stuff easily findable on the OTW website. Don't expect people to know to look in the annual report - maybe have an easily locatable tab e.g. How we spend your money/donations? With a clear and short narrative story about where the money goes.

b) Put the balance sheet and P&L accounts on the How We Spend The Money page but cut the jargon and make them accessible. I spent a couple of decades in social housing and any housing association or other charity has lots of info on their websites showing how to present complex financial info so laypeople without financial backgrounds or uni education can see how cash is being spent. If necessary make it really really simple - and go for the how each £1 is spent type pie chart :) If you want more details I'm happy to go away and dig out some of these for you :)

c) Scanning the accounts for 2013/14 there's nothing in them that makes me clutch my pearls and think about some of the more serious allegations I've seen bandied around. Sure the travel increased in 2014 but I understand there was a 3 day planning/face to face meeting and for a worldwide org getting people together face to face is going to cost a bit!

d) A simple narrative explaining some of those expenses could help reassure the more concerned elements of the membership - plus a willingness to be open and accountable about how money is being spent and some footnotes to explain what some items are. I mean I can guess what Systems Expenses are - but having a note to explain in a bit more detail what's covered would be good.

In my day job (I work for a very large professional membership org - 160k members and 450 staff) and manage a budget roughly the £1m mark so I'm used to dealing with financials and am not sure I'm the target audience for the baseline membership of the OTW. But that said the bigger financial concerns for me would be:

a) the lack of an annual budget and a 3-5 year financial plan (which should be reviewed annually when the budget planning is done). This is something I think is worth bringing in outside paid for help to get in place ASAP. I can't see any reason why both the budget and the financial plan shouldn't be available for members to see - it's not like these are trade secrets - there's no competitor waiting to steal the info and if publishing that reassure the membership then why not?

b) Where's the external validation of the accounts? Who audits them? If they're not audited, why not? Again - it's another worthwhile route to reassuring members that there's nothing shady going on. Memberships and donations are critical to the sustainability of the OTW and it seems short-sighted to me not to take every possible step to make sure members feel that their money is being responsibly dealt with and invested/spent.

c) Is it true there's no internal finance/audit committee - if not why not? I'm unsure of why there seems to have been a decision to do away with it and make the Treasurer (and Board?) responsible? Would having a proper finance/audit committee relieve some pressure on the board so they can focus on strategy but still have oversight of spending? Are there sensible policies in place for committees to spend to threshold (dependent on committee chair approval),with expenses above a certain amount needing finance/audit committee sign off and significant expenses needing both finance/audit committee sign off and Board sign off? (Sorry if all these answers are obvious somewhere on the website but it seems really weird to me not to have an internal finance/audit committee - because those are a particular and very specific set of skills that some people excel at and which a Board should not get bogged down trying to do)!

d) get the cash out of the paypal account and move it somewhere else - even if it is more complex than people think :)

e) I really think Sanders idea of publishing a quarterly P&L account or even an summary P&L quarterly account is excellent and again would do wonders for reassuring members.

This is just a quick set of thoughts but happy to go away over the weekend and take a more considered look!
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