Beau's report on his handling of office operations since Angela's departure was very encouraging. He has very quickly identified about half a dozen ways to save on recurring expenses, and is working on a proposal to close the office and make its operations more distributed and online. He is documenting the procedures and mechanics of the office's operations, and seems confident that they can be streamlined so as to not require a full-time Executive Director costing us roughly $40K/yr. Since a dollar saved is equivalent to a dollar fund-raised, it looks to me like Beau is poised to become by far our top-performing fundraiser.
California Freedom is costing us about $26K/yr to publish. Mark Johnson proposed a moratorium on its production until we are no longer sliding towards bankruptcy, but the idea had no backers due to the obligation we have to produce CF for members who pay the full dues that includes a CF subscription. I pointed out that we're spending $9K/yr in layout costs so that CF can have nice columns and stories that break across pages, whereas the layout costs of the similar email "eFlyer" we've started producing are zero. I suggested that $9K/yr in layout costs are a pretty extravagant way to spend members' money as we slide toward insolvency. There seemed to be wide sentiment for finding some cost savings here, but Cam McConnell said the meeting was almost over and that we should work offline on bringing our newsletter expenses into alignment with our membership model. Chuck Moulton suggested that dues should finance the newsletter, recurring donations should finance office/staff operations, and fund-raising should be for specific programs. I think that's almost right, except I would say that dues should finance both the newsletter and core office operations (renewals, database, etc.), and that all other programs and non-essential operations should be financed by program-specific fundraising and program-specific recurring donations. This would allow the funding behaviors of our members to act as a clear market signal telling us how much they value our various activities.
The committee adopted the proposal Chuck and I put on the agenda to post human-readable contact info on the LPCA web site for ExCom members who desire to do so.
Chuck and I also put the filling of LNC vacancies on the agenda, but this turned out to be the one dim spot of the meeting. Aaron Starr is now LPUS Treasurer and so his LNC seat as our rep (alongside M Carling) is now effectively vacant, with 2nd Alternate Scott Lieberman routinely filling in for him. Ted Brown moved to formally put Scott in Aaron's seat, but the motion was divided into vacating the seat and then promoting Scott. The first motion succeeded, but there was dissent on the second. Lawrence Samuels said that Scott was "one of these reformers" and was "pro-war". I quoted from a recent email from Scott saying "basic non-interventionism, combined with overwhelming retaliatory military force, is the best way to go." This satisfied Bruce Dovner and perhaps others, but the result was that Scott lost a narrow voice vote in which about half the committee abstained. The agenda item then ran out of time before we consider whether to make Scott 1st Alternate and to consider me for one of the open spots. (It now seems unlikely that I would have won one, as I had just cast the only vote against endorsing an anti-war rally sponsored by ANSWER, which is led by marxist-leninists from the Workers' World Party.)
In other news, the committee voted (over the nays of Ted, Chuck, and me) to make Starchild push his chair back from the table, and he complied. Various members of the committee successfully moved to allow Starchild to be heard as raised his hands at various points, and his comments were quite constructive. Afterward he agreed with me that this was the most encouraging ExCom meeting he'd ever attended.
From the gallery, Brian Miller spoke in favor of a resolution that the LPCA call on the Governor to endorse the gay marriage rights bill before him, and also announced an extremely generous $500 donation to the LPCA. During the public comments at the beginning of the meeting, Miller briefly and elliptically asked the ExCom to address the recent unpleasantness regarding Tim Campbell's remarks about Angela Keaton, but the committee took no official action.
From: Brian Holtz [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 11:40 PM
- What are the details of the "current liabilities" ($10K - county distributions?) and "loans payable" ($3K) mentioned in the June report?
- What is "deferred revenue"? The convention minutes show it dropping from $20K to $5K over CY2006, and the June report shows it back at $20K.
- How much (if any) of the $51K in accounts receivable in the June report is not OB pledges? Was the growth from the $30K reported at the April convention purely the result of discovering new OB victories?
- The convention report says 2006 recurring gifts totaled $57K, but the June report reports $21K more revenue than the convention report, with recurring gifts only at $35K, and a new category of "performance-based gifts" at $43K. I take it this is revised accrued 2006 OB pledge revenue to be collected in 2007 as a result of OB victories discovered after the convention? If so, what is the nature of the $15K of additional performance-based gifts anticipated in the budget adopted in June?
- Why were county party distributions so low in 2006 (~$12K) compared to the previous four years ($33K - $44K)? Dues revenue was $54K in each of 2005 and 2006, but was $44K in 2005.
- Can we break down the 2006 $10K of "other revenue" to one more level of detail? The March minutes say that $5K is list rental and $800 is interest. Is the other $4K all CF advertising revenue?
- How does the $10K in 2006 direct mail solicitation and $3K in telephone solicitation roughly break down between the possible purposes e.g. membership prospecting, membership renewal, pledge solicitation, OB solicitation, and cruise attendance solicitation? We should try to break down expenses by purpose/program as well as by type (e.g. phone vs. mail).
- The March minutes report $4K in 2006 HQ travel and $3K in "outside services". Could we get about a sentence more of description for each of these?
- The March minutes report almost $3K in telephone expenses in 2006. How did we spend that much? AT&T says it offers businesses unlimited long-distance calls for $20/month ($11/mo the first year). I bet Richard Rider could hook us up with some kind of unlimited long-distance plan that would cost only a few hundred dollars a year.
- What will be done with the $15K budgeted for campaigns and elections in 2007? If this is for finishing the discovery of 2006 OB victories, then why do we accrue new 2007 OB revenue discoveries against 2006, while accruing new 2007 OB expenses against 2007? Is there any way to avoid spending any of that $15K?
- Why are member communications budgeted at $24K for 2007, vs. $18K in 2006? There doesn't seem to be a strong relationship between issues published and expense. The figures I have are: 2002: 9 @ $12K, 2003: 11 @ $13K, 2004: 12 @ $20K, 2005: 12 @ $28K, 2006: 9 @ $18K.
- Why are we budgeting $20K for member recruitment in 2007 compared to $300 in 2006, while projecting a drop in dues revenue (from $54K to $50K)? What do we think 2007 dues revenue would be without spending that $20K? Don's spreadsheet shows nothing being spent on recruitment from 2002 - 2005.
- What are the "other fundraising costs" of $5K in the 2007 budget, and why are we budgeting $20K in direct mail fundraising? The analogous figures for these categories were: 2006: $15K, 2005: $12K, 2004: $6K, 2003: $7K, 2002: $15K. What do we think 2007 dues revenue would be without spending that $25K?