Response to the Treasurer’s Question on Earmarked Funds
April 27, 2013
Submitted by Nathan Fowler
I have been one of the people accessing some of the earmarked funds in the MassRID Treasury – specifically the line item marked “Betty” in the 2011 MassRID Meeting Treasurer’s report, and which is currently being referred to as “Foundations”. I would like first to provide some context to the use of these funds since Jan 2011, and second to suggest next steps.
The question as posed in English on the MassRID website (http://massrid.org/node/303) as of April 10, 2013 read:
Apparently, several years ago MassRID was hoping to have a series of workshops in the areas of Legal, K-12 and Foundations. $450 was gained from the initial Legal and K-12 workshops but the series was not continued. Foundations has actually been offered multiple times and profits are currently at $3600.
Additionally, sometimes we are asked to handle the finances for someone in the community putting together a workshop. The profits we have from these are currently $1300.
The question the treasurer will be posing to the membership is – what to do with those profits?
At the April 27th business meeting MassRID would like to hear ideas from members regarding solutions for this issue. If you have any questions please ask beforehand so we can maximize discussion time during the meeting.
In January 2011, I asked the MassRID executive board for access to the funds marked “Betty” in the Treasury for use as seed money to host Foundations I and II in Worcester, MA, which would attempt to draw participants from Massachusetts, as well as Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, the Capital Region of New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Foundations had not been hosted in Massachusetts in about 10 years. That workshop resulted in a financial surplus, which went back into the Treasury in the same line item in order to seed future Foundations workshops. At the time, I had hoped to plan a workshop series, Foundations 1 through 8. In emails with the Treasurer at the time, Cat Dvar, I made these intentions explicit, and asked whether it would be possible for the surplus to be held for this express purpose.
My intention in hosting Foundations was to run a zero-sum workshop at the lowest possible registration fee. I made arrangements with the Treasury that a surplus would be used as seed money for like-workshops. The workshop was never intended to turn a profit for MassRID, but to be a self-sustaining workshop series.
The nature of Foundations is such that a critical mass of participants (roughly 20) must have taken Foundations I and II in order to advance to Foundations III and IV, and then to V and VI, and ultimately to VII and VIII. Attrition makes it difficult to find enough registrants for higher levels, and results in higher registration fees and lower budget surplus. The availability of seed money from previous Foundations offerings helps offset the cost of registration and grant reductions to participants seeking financial assistance. Without seed money, the only way to host Foundations-type workshops, especially at higher levels, will be to fund raise within our community, or to further raise the cost of registration. Maintaining a “Foundations” line item will allow for our community to host future Foundations workshops, which have both been financially self-sustaining and a consistent draw for interpreters from around New England.
The cost and liability of running a workshop is high. The availability of seed money allows for the payment of initial costs, such as advertising, booking fees, and deposits for workshop space. Seed money also allows for reductions in the cost of registration fees, which compose a majority of the overall budget. It is not financially sound for MassRID to provide workshops that are likely to result in a loss; however, without the help of MassRID, it is all-but impossible for an individual in our community to host a workshop with a substantial budget – even a workshop that is likely to result in a profit - because of the risk of loss. Furthermore, an individual managing a budget takes on the added liability of appearing to earn income, especially when a profit is generated.
If MassRID is not the center for professional development, another entity will take its place. It is my preference that MassRID remain at the center of interpreter advancement. In full acknowledgement of the multiple roles that I hold, I offer this:
Presuming it is financially reasonable for MassRID, and presuming it a minimal additional burden to the Treasurer of MassRID, I support the maintaining of special funds - such as the line item for “Foundations” - in the appropriate MassRID bank account, whereby funds can be accessed at least roughly every six months. I would like to see a policy developed by the Treasurer, in conjunction with the executive board and other relevant parties, for the handling of current and future funds of this type. The policy might include, but is not limited to: a cap to the amount of money held in a particularly line item; permissions as to who may access earmarked funds; time limits for money held, and policies for handling expired monies; fees charged for maintaining of special funds; and protocol for requesting and approving special funds. The policy should explicitly describe how to manage funds that are currently in use, and given precedence, might reasonably be considered in use.
I believe this question is a matter of policy and it is the prerogative of the executive board that we elected to define it.
Although I am unable to attend the MassRID meeting on 4/27/13 because I am out of state for work, I appreciate the opportunity to supply both context as I know it, and my opinion on this topic. I have full faith in the membership and the executive board, and I ask that any questions, comments, or concerns about any of this commentary be directed back to me that I might more clearly elucidate my thoughts.
Regarding the Upcoming MassRID Business Meeting
The MassRID board is energized from the membership's participation in our January member forum and the feedback we've received about the organization.
We want to move forward, serving you and making positive change in Mass - working as allies with the Deaf community, supporting our Deaf interpreters, our educational interpreters, our interpreting students and the young professionals just coming into the field.
To that end, we need to VOTE on several important issues at our April meeting: electing new regional representatives, changing the bylaws to allow for more ease of reaching quorum at future meetings, and making decisions about how our budget will be spent. Each region is a locus for our colleagues to meet and share dialogue about the issues that concern them the most. It's essential to have our business meetings be places where we can introduce topics, bringing them to discussion and voting. And it's important that every member knows what money is available to them for professional development and has a voice in guiding our organization's decisions.
For this reason, we need to reach a quorum in April. We have 161 voting members at last count. One third, 54 members, must be represented at the meeting live or by proxy. Because we are still constrained by the bylaw that requires two-thirds of the quorum to be in-person voters, we MUST have at least 36 voting members in attendance, with a maximum of 18 proxies held (limit of two proxies per voting member).
We will be voting EARLY in the agenda, as soon as we count the quorum (all reports will be sent by email to the membership prior to the meeting to save time on-site: officers, regional representatives, committee chairs), so if you have other commitments later in the day, please consider coming at 9am, voting, and then leaving!
Thank you for helping to support MassRID so that we can support the interpreters of Massachusetts.
Joan N. Wattman
MassRID General Meeting
April 27th, 2013
The Learning Center for the Deaf, Framingham, MA
- 9:15 AM: Call to order
- Count quorum
**In order to be an official meeting, we need to reach quorum.**
- Discussion facilitated by president:
- State rate meeting in February
- What MassRID does for the membership
- 9:35 AM: Voting
- Bylaws Change: Motion: Article VI Section 5.5 be deleted.
Rationale: Article VI Section 5.5: Proxy Votes currently reads: "Total number of proxies cannot comprise more than one third of the total votes for any given meeting." Although the concept behind it is good, this method is unworkable in a general meeting. Deleting it is the easiest way of fixing the logistical problems we’ve had at the last few meeting
- Regional Representative Elections:
- Greater Boston
- Southeast/ Cape Cod
- Educational Interpreters Membership
Reduced rate for first year educational interpreters’ membership (i.e. introductory membership)?
- Bylaws Change: Motion: Article VI Section 5.5 be deleted.
- 10:30 AM: Treasurer’s Report
** Please see full explanation of monetary issues on the website (VLog) and in The Communicator, come prepared to discuss.**
- Money that is not earmarked
- Membership discussion on how to best use this money
- 11:00 AM: MCDHH Report
- 11: 30 AM: Wraparound Program Presentation: Ivy Velez
Yesterday's meeting was very productive even though we were not able to vote :( Stephanie Clark acted as our parliamentarian and has suggested next steps to bring the Board into official authority given that we have not met quorum in our spring, fall or winter meetings and our term ended in May 2012.
The current officers are willing to serve another term - myself, Joan Wattman, as President, Amanda Riemer as secretary, and Marina Clark as treasurer. We are still seeking a vice president, but are also willing to go forward working together as an executive board with the assistance of Cheryl RIch Keeter as communications chairperson.
The community will have until January 21st to give nominations for all four officer positions to Ruth Lehrer, nominations committee chair at firstname.lastname@example.org, and at that point we will close nominations, announce the ballot to the membership, and have that posting out on our website, facebook page, onelist, and membership emails for 60 days.
We will hold electronic elections in mid-March.