Alex Tischer 2015 Q&A: Finances, Group 2

Can you describe your ideal setup for OTW finances going forward, given that many of you flagged the current situation as an issue?

The setup I would like to see established is a fairly basic, yet functional one that has the option of being improved on and fine-tuned in the future.

We need to make finances a job for more than one person again: having a single individual as the lynchpin for all our financial transactions is irresponsible, and provides too many chances for things being perceived as dodgy, even if everything is completely above board.

I would like to see the finance committee reestablished, with at least three members on it. Having clear and accurate bookkeeping for past expenses and a prospective budget to use for planning would be part of my ideal setup. I would want the accounts/bookkeeping audited at least once a year, if not by an external auditor (which might be too expensive), then at least by two volunteer auditors with no involvement in the finance committee. The audit reports should be available to any interested org members at the very least, and preferably publically available.

There is currently no internal or external auditing structure checking the OTW’s bookkeeping (no legal worries, here: the Delaware state laws do not require annual auditing from nonprofits). If you join Board, is this something you would like to change? If so, how?

As I explained in my previous answer, yes, I would want to establish at the very least an internal auditing structure. I would want the auditors to have no involvement in the finance committee and the yearly audit reports to be as publically available as possible. While this might not be a legal requirement, for the peace of mind of the members – and actually the treasurer and/or finance committee themselves – I think this is a very important element to have.

Our finances are currently being overseen by only one person with actual decisional and content-producing power, which is concerning in terms of transparency, and efficiency. If elected, how would you go about building a sound administrative Financial structure for the Organization?

This may be getting repetitive by now. I would want to re-establish the finance committee, make sure it is formed of at least three people, have public bookkeeping audits and a prospective budget for future planning.

As to how to build this, the first step would be to recruit internally among the staff of all committees for volunteers with bookkeeping experience, who would be willing to sit on a finance committee to start working the details out.

I saw many concerns about finances in the candidates’ statements, but I did not see outsourcing financial oversight mentioned as a solution. I’d like to know what the candidates think about outsourcing (paying for) some responsibilities, in particular engaging a company with a background in financial services for non-profits.

While I am not ruling out the possibility that this might become necessary, if, for example, no volunteers came forward to staff the finance committee or, likewise, no auditors could be found, I don’t think our finances at this moment absolutely require this.

It is hard to say, as so much about our finances is not openly discussed, but from the glimpses I’ve caught, our finances don’t seem to be very complicated and involved. If that turns out to be untrue, I don’t dislike the idea of outsourcing at least the untangling part of the current situation, and potentially keeping certain aspects outsourced for longer. It would require careful research to find the right balance of a cost-benefit solution for the org, because while obviously a certain amount of donation money has to go to admin and upkeep of the org in general, a large number of our members do not donate for the administrative upkeep of the org, and would rather see the projects kept up and running. Some admin costs are necessary, but we have to make sure that if we’re thinking about outsourcing, that it is really not possible to do the relevant tasks in org.