Soledad Griffin – Elections Q&A (Part 2)

4) What do you believe the Board’s role should be in the area of fundraising in particular? What kinds of concrete acts should or shouldn’t Board members do with regards to fundraising planning and execution?

I do think that the Board should collaborate in setting the goals for fundraising, considering their fundamental role in planning out the OTW’s financial future. In terms of concrete acts, I believe that the best thing Board can do is support the committees that are in charge of those areas as well as support and spearhead efforts to expand our userbase for all projects (and, therefore, expanding our possible membership).

That said, while I believe that fundraising in fandom is best left to the people in charge of that – helping them when they need it – personally I think that the Board should look for alternatives for funding that are not fandom donations.

5) What kind of challenges, in your opinion, does the OTW face in the financial area? What do you think are our most pressing needs and flaws in that realm?

Our most pressing need is building sustainability, in general, and that also pertains to our financial reserves and how we approach our finances.

Our financial situation is nowhere near dire and our drives are greatly successful, so while it is important to budget in a smart way, that also means letting go of our fear of spending. Caution is important, but we need to start investing in our future growth.

This does not mean, of course, resorting to careless spending, but remaining open to the possibility of fixing certain ongoing problems with money, so to speak.

6) Would you be able to lay out your vision for OTW’s financial future? How do you intend to balance the committees’ different needs?

We need to be more efficient because better results for the same amount of money never hurt anybody’s finances, but also to ensure our donors trust us (and therefore to ensure they remain our donors).

More importantly, we need to learn how to spend. We are expanding continually, and that means more expenses, but we also have a reserve large enough that we can afford to invest in our growth. However, deciding which investments are useful at this particular time with this particular state of the OTW’s assets is a complex question. There are easier decisions to make, like ‘buying new servers’, but there are other questions – like whether hiring a contractor for any kind of work is a good idea at all – that are harder to answer.

In terms of how to balance committees’ different financial needs, in the case that fulfilling one committee’s need directly impacts our ability to fulfill another’s, there are several factors that would help me make that decision. The main one is urgency, but also what the organization’s priorities are at any given moment.

7) We’re currently projected to be operating at a financial loss this year. Do you have any concrete plans for how you’ll address issues of financial sustainability going forward?

One year at a financial loss is not ideal, but it is not unmanageable or that uncommon. We have a reserve that would keep us going for months and yes, we would not be able to expand on that reserve, but if we were not pulling enough income to cover our expenses, then expanding would not be a great idea anyway.

I do believe there are some goals that we could strive torward, like having clearer, better financial procedures, that would help our financial sustainability.

8) AO3’s continued survival currently depends on a small handful of volunteers doing massive amounts of unpaid work. If those people became unavailable, what would your plan be to keep the archive from going under? Do you have a sense of how much it would cost to hire external contractors to do that work?

Over 200 volunteers work at the AO3, and I am familiar with how much work they do, so I would rather focus on avoiding such a situation than consider the alternative.

In general terms, one of the most important things is to ensure the procedures are documented and that the knowledge necessary for the continued survival of the AO3 is stored where new volunteers can easily access it to continue that work.

However, if that situation came to pass and no other people with the relevant skills were willing to volunteer, I very much doubt that the OTW would be healthy enough to be pulling in the sort of income that a fully paid staff would need.

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