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Financial Team — Call for Candidates

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The task of the financial team is to ensure a regular stream of revenues that is large enough to cover our running operational expenses. The team should remind members regularly, in a friendly way, not to forget to pay their membership dues. Next to that, our website should also invite donations, including from supporters who are not members. Appropriate measures will be needed to ensure that dues and donations can be received. 

The team will consist of three members, who together decide how they organize and divide the work. (For this role we will not have additional reserve members.)

Members who are willing to volunteer for this task are invited to announce their availability by posting an statement to that effect as a comment below.
Please also add some information that may be helpful to the membership in making a selection, such as how you hope to fulfill the role.

Two weeks after this call was posted, a vote will be held (using a poll) for selecting the three members of the team.

Discussion 27 Comments

  • Claire Bruhn 26th Oct 2016

    The idea of doing the tasks of the financial team makes me cringe. If it turns out that there are few volunteers, I volunteer and will take one for the team and I could commit to a year. I am really holding out for the position of adjudicator because I find that much more interesting. Anyone else into accounting and hassling folks about membership dues?

    • Lambert Meertens 26th Oct 2016

      The accounting is the task of the financial administrator, to be selected later. All the financial team has to do is hassle ;).

    • Rod 26th Oct 2016

      Thanks Claire! Hopefully more will follow suit.

      @Lambert. The task of the financial team would also be to set up a system to receive donations would it not? It seems to me most of the initial work would be going into that. Or am I mistaken and is this a rather trivial task?

    • fred curran 26th Oct 2016

      We could use a crowdfunding platform if nothing else for that. I am not sure where the decision would lie, in terms of which one we would use, would that be a decision for the financial team, or would that be a proposal from the financial team for all the members to decide on?

    • Lambert Meertens 27th Oct 2016

      Quote from fred curran:

       "I am not sure where the decision would lie, in terms of which one we would use, would that be a decision for the financial team, or would that be a proposal from the financial team for all the members to decide on?"

      Not only the financial team, but members in all kinds of executive roles, mandated or otherwise, will need to make decisions and be faced with the question whether they can just go ahead or need to involve the membership. In the end it is them who will have to make the call in each specific instance, but here are some general thoughts on the issue.

      First off, I think the most important precept is that of transparency. Always try to act as if with all members looking over your shoulders. In urgent situations there may be no time for consultation, but then be explicit and clear afterwards about what you did and why.

      Second, but also very important, we have to be carefully selective in what we ask all members to decide on. If it is too often, participation fatigue will soon set in, leaving the decisions to a few tireless members who will tend to make decisions that are tiring for the rest of us. Just consider how participation has been going down through the subsequent polls. This should be reserved for decisions of consequence, for example that would have a considerable impact on our resources, or that, once implemented, would be very hard to undo.

      So here is what I think is a lightweight way that can be used for almost all decisions where input from the members could be beneficial.

      Step 1: Announce the proposed decision, together with its rationale and any further considerations, in some way that interested members who follow what is going on are likely to notice and can react to, asking for further input (if any).

      Step 2: If there are no reactions, or only encouragement, go ahead and implement the decision. If suggestions have been offered that you think will improve the proposal and no serious objections have been raised, modify the proposal accordingly and implement it.

      Step 3: If objections have been raised, engage in and encourage further discussion. Hopefully, this will result in a consensus (which may happen not to be your personal preference). Implement that consensus.

      Step 4: No consensus can be reached. Consider carefully. Maybe it is not that important after all. Often there is an entirely different, non-controversial way of reaching the original objective, and everyone will be happy. If not, the time has come to go to

      Step 5: Invoke the decision-making procedure of Proposal 8 accepted in the September poll. This should really be used sparingly as a method of last resort for controversial executive decisions.

      As an example of this in action, see the recent spam-fighting measure to blind some fields of the member profile pages for non-members. The proposal was announced as a blog post, where it only found support and so was implemented.

    • Lambert Meertens 27th Oct 2016

      Quote from Rod:

       "The task of the financial team would also be to set up a system to receive donations would it not? It seems to me most of the initial work would be going into that. Or am I mistaken and is this a rather trivial task?"

      My saying that all the team had to do is hassle was meant as a joke. Setting up some way for receiving donations is not trivial but also not particularly hard. See, for example, this wikiHow article: How to Set up an Account for Donations (although written from a purely U.S. perspective; also having an account with an IBAN number is easier for donations from Europe). It is also not difficult to add some donate buttons to the home page (e.g. for PayPal, with a discount for 501(c)(3) non-profits – although PayPal excludes many countries, now even Turkey). Basically, just copy what other organizations are doing that solicit for online donations, many of which offer donors a choice between several methods.

      I expect more effort will go into discussing the pros and cons of various setups than actually doing it once one has been chosen.

    • Lambert Meertens 27th Oct 2016

      Here are pages showing the PayPal donate button: Pechma Vision Donate page and OEIS Foundation. To donate, you don’t need a PayPAl account; after clicking the button you see that you can also donate with a credit card or bank account (but donations from Bangladesh, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Puerto Rico and Turkey are excluded).

    • Claire Bruhn 27th Oct 2016

      It may occur that a member wishes to donate but cannot for various reasons use PayPal or a Credit Card. Perhaps we can offer them the option to link up with another member living close by. That way member A can pay member B his or her dues and member B can pay the dues for the two of them. Though it may be that member B could go from member to member saying they were collecting dues while they were really pocketing the money. I like to think IOPS members aren't so shady, but it might occur. Direct individual donations should be preferential.

      I also think if someone can not afford to donate they shouldn't be judged for it and shouldn't be exiled from the website or have any less privileges here. Perhaps when an individual pays their dues we can give the option "Donate for 2, Donate for 5, Donate for 20...etc" That way some of our more well-to-do members could pick up some slack.

    • Claire Bruhn 27th Oct 2016

      I am also thinking there will be many members who do not want to disclose their yearly income in order to find the 1% that they need to donate. Maybe that is a figure for each member to ponder to themselves before they donate. 1% of the income of some of our more well-to-do members is quite a lot of money. Could we ever expect them to actually donate that much money? And I can also imagine there may be very poor members who would donate more than 1% of their income. I am wondering how we can make this process easier and more inclusive and how we can more effectively reach our goal of keeping IOPS alive.

    • Lambert Meertens 27th Oct 2016

      The yearly dues are 1% of the monthly income. So, calculated over the yearly income, it is 1% of 1/12th part, which is something like 0.0833%. The more well-to-do a member is, the more affordable this should be, since what is left for them to spend is 99.9167% of a much higher amount. If they find it hard to part with the money, it must be a psychological thing.

      When I first formulated the membership dues proposal, in the Aspect: Finances topic of the forum of the Reimagining IOPS project, I wrote: “We should start collecting membership dues. Formally these will have to be voluntary contributions, for a number of reasons. ... Still, we can set an amount for membership dues, which members are meant to pay unless hardship or other compelling circumstances make this infeasible.” [emphasis by underlining added]

      The Remarks for Proposals 11 and 12 also say: “For a variety of reasons, this [that is, paying the membership dues] has to take the form of voluntary contributions. We are not going to expel members who cannot transfer money to an IOPS account.”

      I think that indeed members should decide themselves how much they will pay. The 0.083% figureis an indicative amount for a normal situation, but if someone can’t feed their kids three proper meals every day that is obviously a far more important problem than any payments to IOPS. And if someone can easily pay more, they should do so. It should be more an honour thing. We cannot judge from a distance anyway what portion of a household income is some member’s expendable income. Maybe the family has high medical expenses; we have no business to ask for such things.

      Another issue is that members do not have to reveal their real names. This may turn the matching of dues received to individual members into a nightmare. All considered, by far the simplest is not to attempt such matching, but treat all contributions, including payments of dues, as if they are anonymous donations.

    • Claire Bruhn 28th Oct 2016

      Thank you for clearing up that misunderstanding

    • Thomas Hallbert 17th Nov 2016

      And any member with a website could add a donate button on their own website, together with a motivation. Should be a minimum of engagement I suppose.

    • Lambert Meertens 17th Nov 2016

      I shall already be happy if they put up any reference to IOPS. Some do make work of making IOPS visible, but many don’t. Yes, we need some money to survive, but we also need much more visibility to become stronger.

  • Bat Chainpuller 28th Oct 2016

    12000 a year. That's ten bucks for the year. Under a dollar a month. Of course it should be voluntary. If IOPS doesn't get enough money it shuts down. Simple. That's the incentive. Do you want the site to continue or not. And of course those who earn a bit more could put in a bit more, anonymously. Z badgers users. Some get annoyed by it. I do not. It makes sense to me. No choice. If you want it, you have to give a little or it disappears. Z is up front in this regard. But if one doesn't have the capacity to pay, that's fine. I have no problem with that.
    But I might say, use the site then. Participate on it and make it look like it deserves to stay up. That's the best contribution. Using it regularly or as often as possible.

  • Lambert Meertens 31st Oct 2016

    Quote from Bat Chainpuller:

     "Of course it should be voluntary. If IOPS doesn't get enough money it shuts down. Simple. That's the incentive. Do you want the site to continue or not."

    Right. But if not a few more members step up to the plate, the site will disappear anyway, voluntary contributions or not. IOPS can’t live by money alone.

  • Caragh - 2nd Nov 2016

    I am willing to do one of these roles. I have a shopgirls ability to count money and an idealists desire to keep this website going. blessings to all

  • Rod 2nd Nov 2016

    I'm also volunteering. I'm good with spreadsheets (collateral damage from my job) and know a little bit about web development, which could come in handy.

    Not too keen on hassling folks either, but maybe that's a plus :)

  • I volunteer for the financial team. I like keeping things organized, will not be shy to tactfully remind people of their dues, and generally being in a team makes me feel comfortable with the different decisions we will need to make from time to time. If not elected I will volunteer for other positions (others, please step up as well, at least to get things running in the beginning).

  • Ashim Jain 4th Nov 2016

    I can also volunteer for the financial team. I can setup up a software financial accounting system (say using some open source software) if necessary. Can also do some peripheral work like generating monthly/annual reports, etc. or any other task the team deems fit for me.

  • Rod 4th Nov 2016

    If not selected, and not enough people volunteer, I'll also volunteer for other roles. What I'm personally most interested in though, and this is not a mandated role, is to get web development going again, adding features and fixing bugs on the website.

    • Lambert Meertens 4th Nov 2016

      Awesome. I expect that being a financial team member will only take up more than a nominal amount of time in the starting-up phase, when the team needs to consider the options in how to set up things so that members and supporters can contribute financially. That should not take longer than two, three months at most. Once the basics are in order, this role will leave ample time to do other things.

  • Claire Bruhn 4th Nov 2016

    Given the great number of volunteers here, I will subtract my earlier offer and wait for the adjudication position. Sweet.

  • Lambert Meertens 5th Nov 2016

    The list of candidates is now fixed, and the poll for the selection procedure is now open.

    I thank the volunteers who came forward for their willingness to make this work.

    This blog post will remain available for members who wish to ask the candidates any questions.

    • Lambert Meertens 5th Nov 2016

      In some cultures it is considered not-done to vote for yourself. In my opinion, it is perfectly fine if the candidates for mandated roles vote (also) for themselves. In fact, since the selection process is not meant to be a popularity contest and the Yes votes indicate sufficient confidence that a candidate is able to fulfill the role, it would be somewhat illogical not to do so.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 5th Nov 2016

    And a big thanks to all the candidates who volunteered!