Milena Popova 2017 Q&A: Volunteer Positions

[Note: Candidates were limited to 300 words for each answer.]

What are your thoughts on the OTW accepting volunteers who are under the age of 18, even if they might be over the age of legal majority in their country of origin?

The OTW has a range of roles, and a minimum volunteer age of 13, with some roles having age restrictions on them. For instance you have to be 18+ to be on the board as that role has specific legal responsibilities in a jurisdiction where the age of legal majority is 18. Tag Wrangling only accepts applications from people who are legal adults in their own jurisdiction, as wrangling may involve exposure to sensitive material. Ultimately, this is about enabling enthusiastic individuals to contribute to the organisation while also not exposing them, existing staff and volunteers, or the OTW as a whole to legal and other risks. The decision on which roles to restrict falls to the relevant committee and Legal, with oversight from the Board, broadly following the principle of minimising risk.

Assuming Legal okayed it, should non-paying volunteers who’ve been with the OTW for over X months be eligible either for voting in the elections and/or being elected for board?

The short answer is yes. The slightly longer answer is that there is a lot of complexity in this with regards to how exactly we determine eligibility. Length of service may be one variable we want to consider. Another might be activity – there’s a spectrum here of people who are technically still on VolCom’s books but aren’t actually active to people who are basically putting in a full-time job’s worth of work for the organisation, as well as people who are on hiatus but have put in the work in the past and have every intention to return. I’d also want to talk to Development & Membership and Finance about this to understand the possible financial impact of changing voting eligibility and help find ways of mitigating it. There are also some other legal complications associated with this approach to do with US tax law – my approach here would be to work with Legal to understand what we can do remove or minimise the financial burden on volunteers. So the devil here is in the detail, and that detail would need to be hammered out between Board, Legal, Volunteers & Recruiting, Development & Membership, Finance, and of course Elections to find a solution that works for everyone. But the principle for me is that if you’re contributing to the organisation through your time, work and skills, you shouldn’t also have to contribute money to be allowed a say in how the OTW is run.