Sustainability Resourcing White Paper

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Sustainability and Resourcing for OWEA

As OWEA seeks to impact change on a global scale, we must take great care to structure the organization in a manner which facilitates ease of operation, fosters growth and accommodates for changes in leadership while operating efficiently based on sound financial planning.

This section identifies several key areas affecting our ability to build OWEA into an entity that is capable of sustaining itself in perpetuity from an organizational perspective.

Additionally, an initial set of recommendations for consideration have been included at the bottom of the document.

Structure

Recognizing that we are an early stage, non-profit entity initially deriving all personnel support from volunteers, the organization must account for both turnover and growth challenges over time. The following is to be considered:

Leadership Roles

Consideration is being given to initially establishing the following participatory roles within the organization:

  • Executive Board - consists of a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer
  • Chairs - responsible for specific aspects of the organization’s function (i.e. - communication, membership, curricula, events, etc.)
  • Committees – unspecified number of individuals assigned to a specific Chair.

As the organization matures, other changes may occur such as:

  • The number of chairs may grow
  • Chairs may expand to include sub-committees
  • Paid staff may be brought in to play both high level (i.e. – executive director) and lower level (administrative or support staff) roles

More info on leadership roles can be found in the core team part of the Membership section here: http://www.w3.org/2005/Incubator/owea/wiki/Membership_White_Paper#Core_team

[3rd ed: John - please mention formal org roles in Membership.

Chairs

Initial Chairs to consider (working list, include descriptions too):

  • Communications
  • Partnership
  • Membership
  • Resources
  • Events

The project Chair

  • Every initiative should belong to a Chair
  • Chairs should not do everything! - This is easy to say and hard to do in young or small organizations. To prevent this, chairs should be reminded that doing everything:
    • Contributes to an exclusive organization
    • Causes burnout
    • Negatively impacts succession planning due to lack of opportunities for others
    • Detracts from big a picture focus

Strategic Initiatives

Each strategic initiative should facilitate the achievement of specific goals and/or support our organization's mission and vision. Consideration should be paid to developing an official process by which initiatives are created and measured.

Partnership

Partnerships are regarded in the context of establishing relationships with 3rd parties that can benefit our cause. Although funds can be derived from partnerships, there are many ways that partnerships can benefit the organization.

Characteristics

What partnerships mean within our organization:

  • they will play a critical role in the success of our organization
  • they can take many forms and we will need to work towards defining the types of partnerships we wish to pursue
  • they may employ negotiated or defined agreements and involve the exchange of money and/or support
  • they reflect upon the organization and should never be taken lightly
  • allow us to accomplish things more quickly and effectively than we could alone
  • exist to benefit our organization financially and/or strategically


Funding

Many non-profits feel uncomfortable talking about revenues and profits. OWEA should not be one of those. We should remind ourselves that we can generally operate more effectively and/or achieve our goals faster and better if we are well funded.

There is a difference between trying to make money on something which requires great effort (i.e. - produce a book or event) so that the funds can be used to benefit the organization vs. trying to satisfy shareholders or business owners through the accumulation of profits, which is the traditional perspective of meaning.

Potential Sources of Funding

  • accreditation (long term / hard issue)
  • accept sponsorships (would vendor neutrality be an issue if we operate within W3C?)
  • partnerships
  • Grant funding / Government funding (establish in Europe & USA)
  • Book revenue / licensing of IP (free for non-profit, licensing for for-profit targets)
    • Print-on-demand course materials
  • Events & conferences
    • WE Rock Events
    • WE Rock Conferences
  • Consultancy on IP-Free content
    • implementation consulting
  • Membership
    • Schools
    • Businesses
    • Individual membership/supporters
      • Teachers
      • Small businesses
      • Students

Recommendations

Structure

The following is a broad list of ideas to consider for implementation:

  • Participation Agreements - It is recommended that all who are involved in participatory role within the organization sign a written agreement acknowledging their stated role and duration of commitment.
  • Published Organization Chart - a clear breakdown of the organization’s structure should be accessible to all.
  • Published Roles/Job Description - drawn from the written agreements signed by the executive board and each participant, this information is made available to all for better understanding of how each role functions
  • Decision making path - Consider providing details on how requests or suggestions are made and how they graduate into commitments or initiatives.
  • Succession planning - a generally acknowledged path for advancement eliminates confusion, avoids conflict and sets a standard for the expectation of how leadership changes

Strategic Initiatives

  • Create or adopt no new initiative without making sure it first has an owner (a chair), stated goals and has undergone an evaluation of the challenges and opportunities that pursuit will bring to the organization.

Partnership

The following should be considered:

  • a partnership chair should be established to support the evaluation and pursuit as well as the maintenance of
  • we need to clearly articulate what types of partnerships the organization seeks to establish and promote that publicly

Funding

  • our business model should focus on a self-funding approach that provides a recurring revenue stream
  • our revenues can be enhanced through contributions, grants and other discretionary sources of funding but should strive to not be dependent upon them or we lose control of our destiny
  • bookkeeping and/or financial performance should be transparent to ensure ethical behavior and transparency
  • an annual budget should be established which shall inform the extent to which we pursue various initiatives, influence pricing for revenue generating efforts and generally affect the overall financial behavior of our organization

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