NoiseBridge Finance Policy (and related considerations) Draft for Discussion
A NoiseBridge bank account should have at least six months' expenses to pay rent, insurance, ISP, power, and various supplies.
NoiseBridge should run a funding drive if balance falls below five months, to continue until balance exceeds seven months.
Consider having parties as part of funding drives. What other events and efforts?
[Per Jake, 20080930: ] This is very much in line with what we've been trying to do. So far we've raised pledges of around $10,500USD. [EndJake]
Bank Account Access
Noisebridge corporate account checks should require two signatures, any two of four Noisebridge members may sign checks (or all board members or all officers may sign checks: the important point is to require two signatures for a check). Those who can sign checks should also have the responsibility for reporting current financial status at regular times.
[Per Jake, 20080930: ] It's possible that we'll implement something like this. I suspect the limiting factor is two-fold:
1) Banks are probably not going to like this very much. 2) Members may not be happy with any two people being able to drain the bank account.
[Per Jim rejoinder, 20080930: ] i believe a two-signature checking account is within common practice of most banks.
the alternatives are having one person able to sign checks or having a number of persons able to sign check. both seem more problematic than having a small number of persons able to sign checks and requiring two signatures on each check. the thinking behind this is that of the old pogo cartoon: "i have met the enemy and it is us". there's another appropriate maxim, "trust is efficient." [EndJim]
Remember that we've structured the (soon to be) 501c3 in such a way that we're all capital 'M' "Members." This is an important legal distinction and one that I'm really happy about (we may live to regret it but we don't yet).
[Per Jim rejoinder, 20080930: ] 501(c)3 status might be far enough in the future not to merit too much discussion at this point. it seems to me that membership ought to be defined and probably more formalized than it is currently. [EndJim]
The finances will be published, hopefully in real time. Transparency is key. We want to avoid major issues with money by letting it all hang out. [EndJake] [Per Jim rejoinder, 20080930: ] Amen. [EndJim]
Consider a second short-term CD or other interest-bearing account as a complement to the checking account. Such an account should have a restriction to control release of funds, perhaps funds can only be released to the checking account.
[Per Jake, 20080930: ] This is a great idea. If you have some suggestions for a bank that canhandle all of the above, that would be wonderful! We've put up a lot of banking stuff on the finances page. Do you have any preference? [EndJake]
[Per Jim rejoinder, 20080930: ] this idea belongs in the list of questions to ask banks. [EndJim]
Two-tier membership plan: higher tier pays a higher monthly dues for unrestricted use; lower tier pays a lower monthly dues but must also pay a per-use fee. All payments must be by check.
[Per Jake, 20080930: ] Here's where we're going to diverge. We're a flat organization. There are no "high priests" here. We're not running a service center, people won't just stop by and pay a daily use fee to use the electronics lab. If people stop by to fix something, we're hopefully not going to be so hard up that we can't share with them. This is critical in fostering a good relationship with our neighborhood and in bringing in new people as something more than their so called "worth" measured in dollars.
We will accept money in any form people want to send it. Check, paypal, cash, anonymously blinded (David Chaum! Why didn't you sell to visa or mastercard?!) e-cash, e-gold, sacks of quarters, etc -
When we're officially a 501c3, we'll even issue specific receipts to ensure people get the tax benefits they expect. [EndJake]
[Per Jim rejoinder, 20080930: ] i think i'm free of elitist tendencies, to a large degree at least. my private motivation was to allow a poor man's participation so that i can be a paying member (i'm hurting for both time and money just now). just to be clear on the point, i do not equate anyone's worth with money but rather on their good will, mainly.
it seems to me the issue of cash and other such (bag of quarters, gold ingots...) is problematic in terms of the membership getting it to the NoiseBridge bank account, so i raise the issue even in light of Jake's note. as a point of policy, what actions create too much trouble? [EndJim]
Consider a vetting process for new members. SF Gem and Mineral Society's vetting consists of prospective members getting two current members to vouch for them (first step is a short chat with each of the existing members, second step has two members okaying the prospect at a meeting, third step consists of new member payment and receipt of a card.
[Per Jake, 20080930: ] We have a vetting process. In short, people coming to the space need to be a part of the community by being a part of the community. [EndJake]
[Per Jim rejoinder, 20080930: ] i, and possibly others, are not clear as to any process for becoming a member. i've assumed that my having joined the mailing list, taking on this (and in the future possibly other) little job, and having come to one meeting are enough that i am a member. i don't believe any vetting has been involved, and it seems to me that as the group grows, some vetting process will be prudent defence against trouble. [EndJim]
Consider issuing a NoiseBridge member card with a member number and a date. Possible to barcode or otherwise enable electronic verification (alternate possibilities could be fun).
[Per Jake, 20080930: ] If we have any card, it will probably be a blank entry card. People can decorate it however they like and we (as an org) will hopefully do nothing of the sort. We're not creating a flashy emblem or status symbol. People can do that themselves.
We're very likely to use the anonaccess system by Das Labor (as has been discussed many times, David and I are looking at the hardware for this as I write this): http://events.ccc.de/congress/2007/Fahrplan/events/2351.en.html
We want anonymous credentials for our door and the card shouldn't identify someone as a member. We don't need or want status symbols. [EndJake]
Consider requiring higher tier members to maintain at least two or three months' paid-ahead status.
[Per Jake, 20080930: ] We almost certainly won't require anything. People can do as they please. Their contributions will be noted in public, on the wiki and in the bank balance statements. [EndJake]
[Per Jim rejoinder, 20080930: ] the only issue i had in mind was various means for keeping the NoiseBridge bank account up. groups have their seasons, and a healthy bank account can see us through an unhealthy season. [EndJim]
Consider releasing keys only to higher tier members. This idea suggests regular hours and some set of persons willing to open the place for those without keys.
[Per Jake, 20080930: ] We're going to ensure that the space is open to all members. We're not going to treat some of the group like less because of their financial status. A member who donates $1000 but never hacks, never shows up and doesn't participate (other than bike shedding) isn't actually part of the community. Money isn't the most important facet of community participation. [EndJake]
Some small group should share managing and tracking this stuff.
[Per Jake, 20080930: ] The entire thing is currently and will continue to be managed with our wiki, mailing list and possibly using crabgrass in the future. [EndJake]
[Per Jim rejoinder, 20080930: ] details of room access are not part of financial policy, sorry i opened that door. how to manage access seems to be unaddressed, though (and should be addressed in some other part of the wiki, yes?). [EndJim]
Donations of equipment and other physical goods do not count as member dues. Consider loaning or giving things for NoiseBridge use.
[Per Jake, 20080930: ] If someone donates us a $20,000 laser cutter, they're probably going to get a pass on their $50 membership dues. Not from any one specific person but from the membership as a whole. I'm also pretty sure this is going to self regulate. Some people will contribute things that are of value that cannot be counted in terms of dollars per month or per hour or whatever time frame, etc.
We do not need _anything_ currently. Loaning things is probably a very bad idea. If you're burdened with something and Noisebridge could use it or would want it, please by all means donate it. When we're a 501c3, this will especially be great. With that said, we're probably going to destroy or consume a lot of things. It's unrealistic to want it back and it may even create personal drama when someone brings in "their" do-hickey that is "misused" or otherwise not available to them on their personal whims. [EndJake]
[Per Jim rejoinder, 20080930: ] My point as a matter of financial policy was to disinclude donations and loans of stuff from membership dues, mainly as an effort to keep the bank account up. of course exceptions may apply.
as an example of loans: it may be that we would like to paint the room. i have a lot of tarps and painting equipment that i'd be willing to loan. i'd want the stuff back. i'd make a big noise about proper care and feeding of paint brushes and other equipment and hope to be present enough during the work to enforce my wishes. if things got away from me, i'd have to eat it as is: it makes no sense that i'd try to seek redress from the group (in the form of dues credit or recompense or anything else).
Supplies to be paid for as part of ongoing expenses could include cleaning chemicals (to be determined) along with one good quality broom, one good quality mop, up to four various-sized sponges, supplies of paper towels, toilet paper, toilet seat sanitary covers, plumber's friend, toilet bowl brush and holder, two five-gallon plastic buckets, two two-gallon plastic buckets, up to four other various-sized buckets or containers.
[Per Jake, 20080930: ] This is pretty reasonable. It should go on the wiki somewhere, perhaps under a supplies page for the space? [EndJake]
Consider drinks to be personal items. Or consider purchasing a vending machine. Having an honor bar with a cash jar and the responsibility of getting the cash and stocking contents seems too much hassle for the possible rewards.
[Per Jake, 20080930: ] Heh. We're a space full of hackers. If we put a vending machine up, I'm personally going to hack it and give away whatever is inside. If we can't trust each other to put in for soda or whatever, it's probably a moot point to even attempt sharing _anything_. Personally, I'm of the mindset (and I'm not alone) that we're going to assume some risk. Someone will drink a soda without having a dollar. Someone else will put in a five and not ask for change.
[Per Jim rejoinder, 20080930: ] myself, i think we shouldn't bother with drinks: let people bring and share as they please. as to hacking our own community stuff, that seems possibly self-defeating, though also possibly amusing. [EndJim]
We're not solving that problem until we actually have it! [EndJake]
[Per Jim rejoinder, 20080930: ] This is a great policy! [EndJim]