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Minutes of the Foundation Board Meeting, March 20, 2015

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Minutes of the Foundation Board Meeting, March 20, 2015


Minutes of the Foundation Board Meeting, March 20, 2015, 3:00pm US MDT

Board members present: Lou Melini, Alex Rosenblatt, Ken Francis, Cyril Wendl, Mark Martin, Leanna Levine

Officers present: Randy Fay, Drew Childers

Invited attendees: Peter Van Glabbeek (volunteer coordinator), Russell Workman (fundraising consultant)

Board President Chris Russo was unable to attend.


All times are US MDT, GMT-6

3:06pm Mark Martin, Vice President, called the meeting to order

1. Campaign Status Report by Randy Fay

Randy presented a short summary of the  Fundraising Campaign Status and Details, which is included in the board meeting agenda.

Discussion followed.

Ken Francis moved to accept the report, Cyril Wendl seconded, report was accepted unanimously

2. Technical fundraising/donation feature improvements (Randy)

Randy Fay presented the technical details of the fundraising campaign. These are also covered in the report in the board meeting agenda.

  • Ubercart module suite

  • Stripe and Paypal card processing

  • Integration with Donortools for acknowledgments and donor tracking

3. Discussion and/or review of reactions to campaign

Several methods of reviewing response to the fundraising campaign were provided to the board in advance, including responses to the recent email from the board explaining organization changes, access to comments on donations and free membership signups, etc.

A short discussion of the responses ensued, but not all members had reviewed these resources.

Leanna Levine agreed do a review of comments from the board email and provide a summary of key comments to the board.

4. One view of why a few were so loud (Randy Fay)

A small group of vocal people have been quite concerned about the changes we’ve recently undertaken, including fundraising. Randy expressed his opinions about some of this:

  • Bike touring is one of the most "free" endeavors that one can undertake in the world. This is a beautiful thing.

  • A few WS members are probably on the radical "free" end of economic thinking, rejecting parts or all of the money economy. (No disrespect is implied here. That's a very interesting place in economic thinking, which many of us can identify with.)

  • Some members assumed that because bike touring can be nearly free, must never need or request money for its support. They may have identified their own organizational or economic thinking with the organization, even though WS had not done this.

  • Some members assumed that because our sister organization BeWelcome is committed to complete dependence on volunteer action, that Warmshowers should also be.

Randy expressed his own sense of loss discovering that we wouldn’t be able to make this work long-term without professional paid staff.

Russell replied saying that a longer-term more gentle communication mechanism could be undertaken. Russell emphasises the importance of implying the community not only with respect to communication, but also with respect to feedback and the implementing a strategy corresponding to it.

5. Peter’s summary of “dissenter” concerns about campaign / fundraising / changes

Peter van Glabbeek was invited to the meeting to present  a list of concerns collected from members he identified as "dissenters", people who were concerned about recent changes in the organization and fundraising. He had provided the report to the board in advance, and the board had the opportunity to review and respond here..

Peter’s main concern was that a long-term fundraising plan be devised by the board as an entity, and not by individuals, and communicated clearly to the members. Also, responses should be related to the facts revealed by critique rather than defensive of persons.

Peter was thanked for his presentation and the concerns he represented were acknowledged.

6. Change of name of “Free Trial”, or addition of a new “Free Traveler” or something of the type. (Randy’s key concern)

Randy expressed his concern that the board-mandated term "Free Trial" for the free level of membership implied many things it was not intended to imply (that we have instituted pay-for-membership, that the free donation level will be arm-twisted into something else down the line, etc.)

Discussion made it clear that the dual use of the word "membership" as both a fundamental position in Warmshowers (member or nonmember) and as a way of identifying donation levels (founder, supporter, hosting only, free, etc.) had caused confusion. Although many people in the US may be used to nonprofits using the term "membership" to refer to different levels of donation activity, that identification may not work worldwide.  

Alex Rosenblatt moved to replace the nomenclature "Free Trial" by "Free", at least until the April board meeting. Lou Melini seconded, and the motion passed without opposition.

7. Donor Badges on profiles: Good or bad?

Badges (a block on the member profile indicating whether a member has donated or not) have been somewhat controversial member, with some parts of the community requesting them because they feel like donation gives credibility with other members, and with other parts of the community believing they are a violation of privacy or a way of coercing donations.

Discussion ensued.

A motion to remove badges until later review (April) was made and seconded, and passed, although it’s difficult to determine from the Skype transcript if it was unanimous.

8. Give new members an automatic free level membership for a year so they don’t get a donation request in that first year (Cyril)

The meeting ran out of time for this, but will be deferred to April.

Mark Martin adjourned the meeting at 4:22pm MT

Action Items gleaned from this board meeting:

  • Leanna Levine will summarize responses received from Board email

  • The board will discuss and propose methods to separate the idea of "membership" from the idea of "donation level".

  • Revisit and perhaps redesign donor badges

  • Free Trial membership level is changed to "Free" immediately until at least April

  • Discussion of an automatic year's free donation level goes on April agenda

  • Improve our techniques for motions, seconds, and voting in board meetings. These could be in their own channel on Slack, separate from meeting chatter.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Thanks for transparency

and sharing this with the community.

Thomas_U, Freiburg, Germany - free, so far host only

Unregistered anon_user's picture
#4-One View

Why was Randy allowed to give his "one view " ? Why was he allowed to dismiss those with concerns as the "Loud Few" ? What makes them loud ? The fact that they weren't afraid to voice their concerns or opinions doesn't automatically make them Loud. Isn't it possible that there were others with more than one view ? I feel Randy is too deeply involved in the financial matters to be allowed to express only "his " view. Thanks to the Board for their time and addressing the donor badges and free trial membership issues for now .

Unregistered anon_user's picture

Who made the motion to remove the donor badges until further discussion and who seconded it ?

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