Board members Steve Criss and Karyn Hoffert were not in attendance (Karyn had indicated that she had a family gathering to attend; Steve had not been hear from).
Linda Pilcher: "It is nine minutes 'til 8, according to the clock on John's wall that has the little leaves that look like the ones that were on the clasps on the cloaks on the people in the Lord of the rings movie thing."
[John L. "The last Board meeting–Hi, Sassy." Linda: "We did not 'Hi Sassy 'at the last Board meeting." John L.: "Cats always take precedence."]
The minutes from the March meeting were accepted, although the 'e' needs to be removed from Shyrl Hester's name.
We have decided to keep the current (somewhat expensive) web-hosting service, because of the people cost of moving everything to another (cheaper) service. Aaron Nabil: SpiritOne will provide free web-hosting for non-profits.
John W.: We tend to spend $4,000-$5,000 a year. The last couple of years, it was more like $3,000 because we thought there was a crisis. (We didn't know how much money OryCon had sitting in its account.) Looking back, in 2003 we spent about $8,000 so it is important to keep monitoring the money to make sure we don't fall into a crisis again. Even though we probably won't spend the entire budget in a year, we do spend most of the budgeted costs, within a few percentage points. Storage space will never go away, attorney fees will never go away, insurance costs will never go away, and we just talked about the web-hosting costs.
John W: The bulk-mailing permit could go away. I figured out that, unless you mail a thousand items in a year, you won't break even. John L: I just mailed 955 progress reports, we had an art show mailing last month–and we'll have another mailing in a couple of months. John W: So it is a worthwhile expense. (It now saves us about 25¢ a piece over mailing first class–the discount is more than it used to be–the thousand items mailed is needed to make up for the $160 fee.)
John W: Our current status is that we have a lot of money, thanks to a $10,000 surplus from the last OryCon(s). But with the current budget, we lose about $1,000 a year based on expected income and expenses. So we need to figure out how we bring up the income to match the probable expenses, because the money spent is watched pretty carefully.
Aaron Curtis: When we were discussing charging the events a flat fee to cover expenses, we talked about charging $1.50/member, then we rounded it up to $2 just to make sure we had enough. Now $2 doesn't seem to be enough. What happened? John W: I think that discussion was in error, since it was only covering storage and insurance. $2 does cover that, but not the other expenses.
Andrew Nisbet: We can't budget big extras each year–but every few years (pretty consistently) we get them, so it averages out well. So we have a pretty good budget based on the fixed numbers, but it ignores the flexible portion, such as these occasional large surpluses. So we need to plan on getting something from OryCon on an average basis, just not a huge surplus every year. Over these years, we've sometimes found ourselves looking at the financial statements and saying "Oh look, we've got a pile of money. We should do something with it." While the items purchased have been reasonable and needed, the expenditures also tend to flow up and down based on the surpluses. If that behavior could be restrained, we probably don't have a problem. But it's hard for this Board to restrain future Boards.
Should this be discussed elsewhere, maybe at a brainstorming session? Andrew: Items shifted to committees don't seem to get done.
John W: With all the panicking last year over OSFCI's financial situation, we really were in no crisis. Once the books were settled for OryCon, there was a $3000 surplus from OryCon which is a fairly average surplus. Aaron C: It seems like the cause of these crises that turn out not to be crises is the lack of information. If you don't know, then you prepare for certain doom. So the solution is to track this information better.
John W.: From my standpoint, it seems like what I should do is not wait for a budget from OryCon, but give them a budget, saying "This is what you need to do, plus/minus 10%, to make sure the proper revenue is generated." That's how business normally works. Andrew: If the fixed income can be set to cover the regular expenses, then we can budget the unexpected surpluses towards capital expenses.
John L: We don't really care what the convention's budget is. We just care that it can pay the overhead fee that we need from them.
Aaron N: On a related matter, we need to enforce some reasonable controls on the accounting for our events, such as requiring documentation for items like this check for $600 that I've written to myself (from Gamestorm). John W: Right now, all we have is peer enforcement to make sure that this is controlled.
Andrew: We can write up these procedures, we can set up the budgets for the events, we can require the receipts. The question is: where are we going to find the treasurers for these events, where are we going to find the time in our lives to act as backup treasurers for these events? Do we have the expertise to handle this–such as writing the budget for the World Horror Convention?
Aaron N. (?): When our Gamestorm treasurer resigned, it took me maybe a day to go through and get everything in order. Is OryCon much larger? It didn't seem to take a lot of work or expertise. Maybe we just need to set up some simple guidelines for the event treasurers. [There was some discussion about how hard it is to find people for these positions in the events.] Aaron C: Maybe if we set up standardized methodologies, it would be easier to attract people to fill this job.
Andrew moved that the OSFCI Treasurer develop standardized books for events, and an addition be made to the management agreements which connects the OSFCI treasurer to the event treasurer in a management capacity. John W. will put this together, with the help of several other Board members. Additionally, the management agreement shall, in the future, include the signature of the treasurer of the event. This motion was agreed to. (We need to run this all by Sam.) Aaron N. will draft the management agreement language.
John W: Returning to the subject of the OSFCI budget, who to ensure that enough money is coming in to meet the corporations needs? Aaron C: It looks like the $2 per event attendee will pay for the corporations usual expenses, while the occasional surpluses from events would take care of any capital needs or unusual expenses. Andrew: Just about all of the events we've held in several years have brought in some sort of surplus.
John W: It would need reasonable that we could shift the fee, so that the GameStorm would pay less per person than OryCon, since GameStorm uses less of the corporate resources. John L: With the shakiness of OryCon's budgeting this year (because of the lack of information from last year), it would be tough to increase this fee for OryCon this late in the year. Maybe with the start of OryCon 29, but not for this year.
John W: Maybe a combination of a mandatory $2 fee and a request for money out of any surplus? Is there any reason for an event to keep any surplus that isn't going to be used for next year? Andrew: In the past, events being able to donate some of their surpluses to a wide variety of charities both provided incentive for more people to participate in running the event, and a feeling that we would be fulfilling more of the "charitable organization" views that the state might have of OSFCI.
John L: Ironically, back in the pre-historic days of OSFCI, all of the OryCon surplus went to OSFCI. Then we said "OSFCI has too much money. Let's allow the event chairs to instead give some of it away instead." Ruth Sachter: When was this? John L: Sometime in the early 80s.
Allowing these donations to be made does build up good will towards the organization.
The Treasurer's Report was accepted.
Patty Wells: Because we are using more space downstairs (we don't have to pay more for the space, but we do for the carpeting and pipe & drape), the hotel cost will be about $2,000 more this year. (That's down from the $4,000 initial estimate for the space.) But in return, we're getting the suites for free. John L: The Regress Report/Progress Report 1 went in the mail last Thursday. We have about 400 members right now, without any program participants yet.
Any questions? Andrew: When the program participant invite went out, a number of people called Andrew ("some of whom weren't named 'Fiscus'") because there was no mention of there being a "guest of guest" comp membership this year. Andrew is concerned that this may engender some ill feelings –even if it's intended to comp the program participants' guests, word of that may not get out smoothly since it wasn't in the first mailing. This will likely result in many people showing up to complain at OryCon Reg and in the Green Room. Several: What is the status of the "Guest of guest"? Mary: It's not settled yet. There is some concern of the load this number of free memberships puts on the convention. Patty: From a hotel standpoint, the more that people are bringing their family and friends, the more they are renting hotel rooms (more so than if they came by themselves). Ruth: And that gives us more people purchasing art in the art show and items in the dealer's room. Patty: And eating in the restaurant.
Aaron N: What does this have to do with OSFCI? Why isn't it being handled by OryCon? Part of OSFCI's role is oversight over the events. Jim Fiscus: I would argue that it is absolutely vital and cannot be left to the individual convention. This would degrade the reputation of OryCon with the pros.
Andrew: In our oversight role, it is incumbent of us to point out to Mary that–because this is different-it's entirely likely that we'll have 200-300 people standing in line at Reg or in the Green Room, complaining about this. If the policy is being changed, it should be changed "hard and loud", so there's no confusion about it and everyone is informed about it.
Aaron C: This is an OSFCI issue because we're supposed to advise the chair if the convention seems to be making (in our view) a mistake, and because of the ramifications that it will have for OryCon 29. Aaron N: Are we prepared to overwrite Mary's decision? Andrew: I'm not prepared to. I'm just saying that if the policy has been changed, the changed should be very publicly announced. Patty: Has the policy been changed? Mary: I haven't been told that it's changed. Jim: Bobbie told him that she had never received a copy of the previous invite, so it's likely she didn't know of our policy (which is different from the usual Seattle-area policies). Mary: Was the policy one guest per participant? Linda: Yes, and they have to be pre-reg. You can't just pick them up at the door because they're cute and you want to sleep with them.
Patty: It would cost us a lot of good will with no real benefit. If we'd come to the Marriott the first year, and we'd been burned with a lot of extra fees, I'd have been one of the first people who'd say they we have to find ways to cut back. But since that worked OK, it's more important to bring in more people to use hotel rooms and restaurant food. That, we will get a benefit from (in future years).
Jim: Most of the people who come as "guest of guest" normally wouldn't come on their own, so we're not losing money from unpurchased memberships. Ruth: And some of them end up on the program themselves.
Aaron C: Move that we respectively request to OryCon 28 that they please use the same guest comping policy that was used in previous years. Motion passed.
New Guest of Honor: OryCon's added Michael DeMeritt as a GOH. He was an assistant director of Star Trek Voyager and Enterprise, and has published a book about his experiences. (He is being treated the same as any other GOH–OryCon is only paying his expenses.)
Patty: We all need to look at trying to drag in new people to work on the convention. (Much discussion.)
Any other OryCon questions? Andrew suggested that the slide they show on cable channels be tapped to not only announce the events, but to also publicize the organizing meetings for the events. Page will look into this.
Gamestorm 8: The GS8 treasurer resigned before the books were done, with Aaron Nabil took over. They have now about $5,000 in the bank. They'll pay OSFCI $275 (for insurance), and one-half of the remaining surplus, once the seed money is passed on to GS9.
Andrew: There is still some concern on their financial status. Although OSFCI's financial health is looking better, it would be more comforting if there was an organization behind the Scholarship Fund, rather than Paul and Debbie being personally appointed to head the fund. It's Sam's opinion that the Fund's money being donated to the Oregon Community Funds doesn't make it safe from any legal actions taken against OSFCI. John L: They did put together a proposed charter for the Fund that was presented at the March meeting. Andrew: In that case, we need to act on that. But even that might not serve to protect any of the funds against actions against OSFCI. Untangling our finances would be a good thing. This proposed charter should be an agenda item at the next Board meeting (copies will be sent out once again).
Page has a stash of old records that should be put into this storage space.
A copy of the OSFCI corporate budget is available upon request from the OSFCI Secretary. It's too hard to HTMLize.
The terms of James Fiscus and Page Fuller expire in November. They have been re-elected to the Committee, with their new terms to expire in November 2008.
MOVED: The OSFCI Board ratifies the re-election of James Fiscus and Page Fuller to the Board of Trustees of the Clayton Memorial Fund.
|Committee Members||First Appointed||Term Expires|
|James Fiscus, Chairman||October 1996||Novermber 2006|
|Page Fuller, Treasurer||October 1996||Novermber 2006|
|Karyn Hoffert, OSFCI Rep.||July 2005||November 2007|
|Geri Jeter||November 2002||November 2007|
|Ruth Sachter||November 2002||November 2007|
|Marc Wells||November 2003||November 2007|
Our judges are writers Lawrence Watt-Evans, Elizabeth Moon, and James D. Macdonald.
|Committee Members||First Appointed||Term Expires|
|James Fiscus, Chairman||October 1996||November 2008|
|Page Fuller||October 1996||November 2008|
|Marilyn J. Holt||September 2000||November 2008|
|Sara Mueller||October 2003||November 2007|
|Alan Rosenthal||January 2006||November 2009|
|Sheila Simonson||October 1996||November 2007|
|Shawn Wall, Treasurer||November 2005||November 2007|