Aline Carrão 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?

We need to address the finances issue in a practical and straightforward way. It’s clear, judging by the last few years, that having only one person in charge of our books and bills is not a ideal set-up. We need to reinstate the Finance committee and recruit for it, so that the responsibility won’t fall on one person’s shoulders.

Other than that, we need to assess whether it’s feasible, sustainable and practical in the long run to have an all-volunteer Finance committee, and which parts of the work—bookkeeping, budget planning, investments, auditing—would be better served with an external contractor.

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?
I do believe we need a better structure to check our books and make sure everything is in order. We need to evaluate what the best process for the OTW would be. An external audit might have prohibitively expensive — we would need to investigate. We might need to look into an internal auditing structure instead, or perhaps have external audits only every few years.

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?

We need to reinstate the Finances committee, recruit for it requiring CVs. At the same time we need to evaluate what the different aspects of the OTW’s financial needs (bookkeping, budgeting, auditing, investmenting) are and what the best way to address each one of them is, be it recruiting specifically for it, setting up an ex-officio role, making something a committee-wide responsibility, or bringing in an external contractor. This way we will not have a multifaceted and work-intensive job depending in one single person having to do too much. Plus, it’s essential to have failsafes and checks and balances in our financial structure. Someone has to make sure bills get paid in case of an emergency; someone has to be there to catch a mistake in the books if something gets mistyped or miscategorized.

Even if we decide to outsource much of this work, it’s important to have qualified people who can assess our current situation and make these decisions. This is a critical area of the OTW, and we should prioritize recruiting for it as soon as we can.

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.

I think it’s a very reasonable option, and possible one of the best solutions in the immediate future. That said, this will require finding a financially viable option; taking into consideration our other operational costs, some services may be too expensive for us. But yes, I believe outsourcing bookkeeping, depending on the cost, could be a very healthy option for the OTW. It would mean we won’t depend on retaining a volunteer with bookkeeping experience, and that the person doing our books has professional experience. Both would be excellent changes.