What is the purpose of this session? Get clarity on issues with global OFN budget processes
What outcomes/deliverables do we want? Find a solution such that the global OFN budget is clear and fair for all
Who is facilitating? Nick
Who is scribing? Gen
- Discussion of tensions regarding the OFN global budget and how it is managed
- Especially where some instances are managing the budgets for other instances, there are divergences in methods of management
- All instances earmark money for the global pot, but since it’s not all used it is important to be clear on which pot is drained first and why
- It was suggested that we could add a lock to the contributions section on the spreadsheet so an endorsement from the Global team is necessary before it can be changed - seemed to receive popular support in the room
- Belgian server fees (32 euro/month) are causing complication here - these should be coming out of Belgium’s budget, not the global pot
- The potential for hiring a dedicated treasurer for Global OFN is discussed, but doesn’t seem financially feasible right now - need to automate and distribute this admin work more
- There’s a standing item of the Global OFN Hangout to address the Global Budget, but the problem is it’s never addressed - we need to commit to doing this
- Budget also affected by discrepancy between developers’ projected and actual working time dedicated to Global OFN - especially important right now since the Global Pot is running down quickly for the next few months, so we need to be as accurate as possible.
- Nick will discuss with Belgium re: aligning practices with other instances
- Myriam and Kirsten will review the Global Budget Spreadsheet
- Someone will check directly with Devs whether they will be able to execute their committed hours each month
Kirsten opens by questioning whether everyone is aware that OFN is probably going to run out of money in a couple of months, whose responsibility it is, whether everyone taking that on with the same sense of urgency. Maybe this is a problem of lacking a global budget strategy, rather than a specific issue with the Google spreadsheet processes.
Myriam raises a concern that, especially where some instances are managing the budgets for other instances, there are divergences in methods of management. There is a lack of clarity regarding sharing of costs (e.g. why empty first Canadian and then Australian contribution). Need for a standardized process regarding how different instances treat budgets - we need to discuss and agree. Kirsten highlights that this hasn’t come up for OFN AUS because they’ve been overcontributing.
Kirsten argues that the labeling on the Google spreadsheet doesn’t matter and is arbitrary, but Myriam and Lynne argue that it does have an effect regarding (perceptions of) fairness. Since money isn’t physically moved, the labeling is actually very important.
Maikel summarises the issue - All instances earmark money for the global pot, but since it’s not all used it is important to be clear on which pot is drained first and why
Myriam suggests allocating spending proportionately to the part that each instance contributes, but Kirsten argues that this violates accepted accountancy practices.
Kirsten suggests that the global-pot earmarked funds be treated as commitments that won’t be violated unless the instance has no choice. Lynne offers the example of an instance that needs to reduce its commitment to keep its servers online.
Somebody suggests that we could add a lock to the contributions section on the spreadsheet so an endorsement from the Global team is necessary before it can be changed. This seems to be a popular suggestion.
Rachel points out that we’re discussing two issues - transparency and budget management. Is there a need for more regular hangouts to pay attention to the global budget spreadsheet? In fact, it’s already a standing item of the Global OFN Hangout - the problem is it’s never addressed.
Maikel highlights that all organizations have a treasurer - can OFN Global really do without one? Kirsten notes that this links to tensions re: paid and unpaid work. The treasurer role would perhaps need to be resourced, difficult to do right now. Nick really likes the idea of bringing on somebody for a paid treasurer job - could give it to Oliver if we get the system right. Notes that even the smallest food coops have a treasurer. It doesn’t make sense to have this important job split between Myriam and Kirsten who are already overloaded - it’s an admin role, not a strategic role.
Myriam says she’s happy to keep doing it (takes 15 mins a month), but we need every treasurer of every instance to be involved. Lynne points out that there are lots of ways to simplify and automate this, e.g. by embedding a graph built from the spreadsheet in the website.
Kirsten suggests that the global team could be given login details for OFN AUS’s accounting tools, to cut down on the admin load on Kirsten. Could set something up with Zapier to automate export from Australian accounting tool to Global budget.
Kirsten suggests a cloud accounting solution for Global OFN, but Lynne points out that it would require somebody to do paid work on this. Kirsten counters that it might be quite straightforward to run after a month of set up - just tagging expenses as global or non-global.
Lynne - a key complication is that Belgian server fees (32 euro) are coming out of the global pot. Need for server boundaries - instances should manage their own server payments. Nick notes that 3000 euro was assigned to OFN Belgium for its first 2-3 years. Could invoice now and assign the remained to global pot?
Myriam highlights that the budget is also affected by how quickly developers work, and therefore how much they invoice for in a particular period. As the budget is running down, developers should ensure that they’re not overestimating how much they will do and invoice for, so we can be clear on how many months we have left. Add monthly review of developer time commitment? But Rachel highlights that it’s hard to plan ahead what work will come up most urgently - whether it will be global or local work. Also maybe more important that the committed time gets realized to improve the platform before the budget runs out on fixed costs - maybe need to redirect funds to pay a new developer to get through the work before the budget runs out…
We have enough input to review the Global Budget Spreadsheet
Can check directly with Devs whether they will be able to execute their committed hours each month
Nick will discuss with Belgium to bring them into line with the other instances