I sent out this note to some long-term contributors to Warmshowers.org via email a few weeks ago. I should have posted it here so that all friends of Warmshowers could see it.
I've been thinking that perhaps in the long-term interest of Warmshowers, it would be good to think through some governance strategy, like a Board of Directors or something. Right now, I and other volunteers just do what we have the energy or interest to do, but perhaps we need something better. Also, it would be nice to have an organization to make sure WS keeps going in the future; it's not reasonable to expect that I'll take care of it for the rest of my life, or that I'll live forever.
Do any of you have ideas about a governance structure? Experience with tiny organizations like this?
One thing I'd also like to do is have a little more formal tracking of donations, but I just haven't done much beyond accepting and acknowledging them. Perhaps we could find somebody who would be treasurer.
Thanks for any ideas.
There were a number of responses, mostly OK with the idea of a board of directors. Mark Martin said that he had experience with setting up a 501(c)(3) filing to make an organization tax-exempt in the US and that it wasn't too terribly hard. This would be a step forward for us, as it's silly for us to pay taxes on contributions if we can do otherwise without an enormous amount of effort.
The LLC business entity that we operate under, Warmshowers.org, LLC, allows us basically unlimited freedom in how we organize ourselves, so we can have a board or whatever.
I mentioned about fundraising and having a treasurer:
I would like to have greater accountability on the money, perhaps with a treasurer managing it. We currently have a bank account and paypal account owned by the LLC, but I'm the only one with actual visibility into it. We currently receive more than $2000/year in donations, which covers our costs quite nicely. I think we might get it to help us with some coaching or tech help with improvements this year.
As for my opinion, I'm not thinking we need to do more fundraising at this point. What we do already meets our needs at this point. Of course, that's with all volunteer management of the tech and membership side of things. If we had to have more paid technical help, etc., it would rapidly outstrip our resources.
Currently, funds dispersion is just to pay for (most of) the out-of-pocket costs of the server and related things. Some of those I still accidentally cover because they get embedded in my day-to-day activities. I think I covered our 5-year domain registrations, for example. But most of it is now paid directly out of the WS bank account.
Your comments here are welcome on this subject. And if you'd be interested in being involved with a Board of Directors, or in taking on the responsibilities of treasurer, please mention that.