Topic: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

So after some discussion in the TC -> TO thread, the topic of a Phoenix Treasurer was raised, as a position ultimately responsible for the financial wellbeing of the site. Their duties would consist of covering the costs of our webhosting and domain, and further ideas included coordinating any donation efforts toward such, and managing any product sales of Phoenix t-shirts etc within the bounds of being a non-profit entity.

Consider this a thread to discuss what duties would and wouldn't be appropriate for the role, and in some ways a thread as to "what should the nature of Phoenix be as regards monetary matters?".

Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

My own thoughts - a Treasurer position should be subject to special rules, different to those for Officers and Coordinators. They should be answerable to the GC, but should require some special measure to oust (membership vote? Agreement between senior staff?). They should also be able to resign the post with an appropriate notice time.

I would argue that the Treasurer should, unlike any other position, be exempt from the "automatically removed after a year" rule, as their role is such that, so long as they remain willing to perform it, there's very few reasons they should be removed from it that wouldn't also incur their being banned from the site.

I would also argue that Phoenix should remain purely about the roleplaying. Non-profit with t-shirts and such can only end up being a bundle of hassle - if people wish to make and sell them, we can link to Cafepress stores or similar. This has the additional effect of keeping the Treasurer's roles one or twofold - paying for Phoenix's existence, and (potentially) organising donations to achieve the former. By so doing, the argument that they should be exempt from the usual removal rules holds further traction - their sole duty is to keep the site's hosting and domain paid for.

Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

Agreed. I am behind the establishment of this position as offered.

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

I think the issue though that has been said multiple times is the issue of assigning the role of carrying the expense of the site to a position. It has been said of both the offices of TC/TO and GC something to the effect of "I don't think a person should have to pay for the site if they are the _______ officer/coordinator". Someone's got to carry the torch and making a special position just for this purpose is, by definition, bureaucratic.

I don't take that to imply something is wrong with creation a position with an intended purpose (far from it) but rather I think we're dodging a very large bullet of "who's going to carry the financial responsibility for the site?"

It is our policy that officers are created from the responsibilities and powers of the GC, that those powers and responsibilities are the GC's to take upon him/herself and that because those responsibilities and powers are the GC's that it is the GC's right to task/bestow these responsibilities and powers upon an officer. Officers are extensions of the GC. So really we don't want a "Treasurer" we want to avoid tying financial responsibility to a person. The creation of a new position is really in direct avoidance of this issue, nobody wants to force somebody to pay...but somebody has to don't they? Somebody has been all along after all.

I'm with you in that I dislike the idea of forcing someone to pay but we have passively been forcing it upon Euan all this time and I don't see the creation of a "Treasurer" position as actually being productive in assigning the responsibility. I personally wouldn't volunteer, I'm so strapped for cash I'm considering picking up a part time job and I already have two full-time jobs. It's not the position I'm worried about, it's the responsibility and that's what everyone else is worried about too. We're on the same page, how do you force someone to take the responsibility of paying for something on behalf of the group?

Volunteers is always good but you don't need a new position for that, nobody enters into an office against their will, you might get voted in but you can still choose to say 'no'.

What I'm saying is I don't see an actual function to the position of Treasurer beyond supporting the concept of someone volunteering for the job but we don't need an extra office for that, and that by our current use of officers the responsibility of paying for the site has to originate with the GC regardless - we can't have an officer that has a responsibility that isn't first the responsibility of the GC that is then delegated to an officer.



To me it seems we're just playing with words to come up with something that's nice conceptually but is just avoiding the harsh reality of the situation which is that:

  • the responsibility must first and foremost be the responsibility of the GC's before it can be delegated to an officer

  • we still need to find someone willing to pick up the banner

If Euan volunteers to be the Treasurer to start, the creation of the position is of no consequence until we can find someone else willing to pick up the banner. I don't think it's futile to search for someone willing to take this responsibility, I just think it's futile to avoid the discussion of "who will take this job" in favor of creating an empty chair for it first.

~Robert

Last edited by RLongtin (2013-07-31 02:29:45)

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

I think that's a very good point, Robert.



-Mischa

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

I can see that argument, but I'd argue the financial wellbeing of the site is something a little special, and a "power" that the GC doesn't necessarily need to have - particularly as the hosting and domain name is within the scope of the TC rather than the GC. By that token, it should be its own special position. There's also the thing I mentioned before of it potentially being a "special case" that doesn't get removed from post per election cycle - saying that if someone is willing to pay for the site's costs then they can continue to do so for so long as they're willing (unless they get banned, or the membership decides otherwise).

In short, on the Org chart, I'd stick it off to the side, because it's like no other position. And it means someone running for GC won't feel they have to either pay or arrange for payment to be made.

-Euan

Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

Does it need to be a position at all? Are we just looking for a title for whoever (Euan, in this case) is carrying the burden financially? What purpose does the title bring? Awareness to others so that they may chip in?

-Jason

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

Jason Andersen wrote:

Does it need to be a position at all? Are we just looking for a title for whoever (Euan, in this case) is carrying the burden financially? What purpose does the title bring? Awareness to others so that they may chip in?

-Jason

Well, tbh if he's helping keep this place afloat, in my opinion he can be called whatever he wants... He could call himself Trevor the Tremendous Trauma-Inducing Travesty, or Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All if he really wanted to, but in this instance the title would surely be a recognition of his/her efforts?

Just my two-cents worth

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

Right I understand the premise but as I say it still doesn't really tackle the issue of someone wanting to volunteer their efforts and their money, whether they're the GC or no (that being the bigger issue I was trying to emphasize).

Were the treasurer not a position of financial commitment but rather one of fundraising I'd feel particularly inclined to say it's a worthy position but where the primary purpose is to pay for the site, that is from my standpoint unnecessary.

What we are discussing in business terms is ownership (or shareholding were it between multiple parties), but without the notion of acquiring shares or outright ownership of the site. Where funds are requested as a "donation", a commitment is rarely attached (and when it is it involves a limited term) and especially not in the nature of a "position".

I might suggest that part of the reason for debate is a lack of knowledge over what kind of cost we're discussing. I don't know if you want to make it public knowledge but I suppose if the objective is to get someone to volunteer to the task of funding the site then they'd have to know what kind of a financial commitment we're talking about. Were the price small enough that a little annual fundraising can cover our costs then I'd say it might not be worth even debating the nature of the chair.

~Robert

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

The reason I'm avoiding numbers is that they could vary. Particularly, it's possible that they'll go up as we need more site resources.

Jason Andersen wrote:

Does it need to be a position at all? Are we just looking for a title for whoever (Euan, in this case) is carrying the burden financially? What purpose does the title bring? Awareness to others so that they may chip in?

-Jason

It makes clear who is responsible, at the end of the day, for the site's costs. In case that becomes an issue, it's important to know.

Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

Euan Reid wrote:

It makes clear who is responsible, at the end of the day, for the site's costs. In case that becomes an issue, it's important to know.

RLongtin wrote:

What we are discussing in business terms is ownership (or shareholding were it between multiple parties), but without the notion of acquiring shares or outright ownership of the site.

~Robert

This is essentially what I'm saying. Funds put into something in this fashion behave identically to "ownership" which isn't what you're suggesting. I think what you really want is this:

RLongtin wrote:

Where funds are requested as a "donation", a commitment is rarely attached (and when it is it involves a limited term) and especially not in the nature of a "position".

~Robert

I don't see an indefinite term as being appropriate as I don't see a requirement of notice being enforceable without a legally binding contract (in which instance it's still a donation, the "donor" is not receiving anything they aren't already getting for free by donating money so such legal documents would easily be thrown out by any court). A fixed term is appropriate in that everyone knows what someone is signing on for but even then it's not enforceable as notice really isn't enforceable.

If we really want to cover our butts on making sure the person paying won't back out unexpectedly, it might do to screen the individual for their employment and their income but that's getting too personal. Outside of that I don't see any way to make something like this.



I'm still of the opinion that a "Treasurer" could be someone who organizes donations and manages the money taken in in this fashion and would gladly support it, and I have nothing against establishing new "ownership" of the site by either making the site an entity which owns itself and requires donations (in which case a very public donation meter should be displayed to let users know how low funds might be) or pass ownership to someone else who doesn't mind paying for it, but I don't see a position of "mandated donor & payor of the bills" as having any real merit. It's still in essence collecting donations with no real enforceable elements.

~Robert

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

To draw examples from local government, student societies, school governors, that sort of thing, we could consider 'corporate ownership' in that all members of a body (eg all elected coordinators) are financially responible for it.

To stay with the real world examples of local government, student socs, etc., they pretty generally have a Chair Person, Secretary, and Treasurer, all three of whom are normally elected by the membership or co-opted where not enough candidates run.

I argue our GC is equivalent to the Chair, we don't really need a Secretary because no one is taking meeting minutes, and we need a treasurer to make sure we pay our webhosting bills. The funding to achieve that could be made by donations (and any other legal means), and perhaps a group of trustees could be formed to foot the bill if donations aren't enough.

Ash

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

Interesting discussion, I can see this going several ways.

Ash's suggestion would be a change to how things work now, but it is a possibility, and would make the Treasurer office have meat behind it. I'd also suggest, if we go down that route, that it be an elected office, with all the rules that govern such office. I feel the membership should really know who they are putting into a position to have a hand in the cookie jar, so to speak.

We'd need a lot more infrastructure for such a thing then we have now, though, such as an account where the money resides, a reporting system that allows for transparency in the bill paying, and a system of checks to ensure the funds aren't being misappropriated.

And that doesn't even cover the rules that would be needed for the "group of trustees".

-Jason

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

As the primary purpose I'd thought of in posting this was to ensure we had a) someone to pay the bills and b) the opportunity for people to run for office even if they can't afford to run the site, what route do we want to take to ensure that, then?

Personally, I kinda like the trustees route.

Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

Trustees I think makes more sense, plus if it's divided up between a group of people then the commitment isn't as much which means if one person has to back out the damage can be mitigated a bit better. I'm more inclined to Trustees over a Treasurer with sole responsibility.

~Robert

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

Be careful not to copy the old country's owner positions! Otherwise I agree.

Krista

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

I think we should make very clear that those who pay for the site have no greater stake in its ownership than the rest of the members. They've simply opted to make their funds available to help pay for the site to run.

Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

Right, that's what a "Trustee" is.  wink

~Robert

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

Euan Reid wrote:

I think we should make very clear that those who pay for the site have no greater stake in its ownership than the rest of the members. They've simply opted to make their funds available to help pay for the site to run.

Absolutely; I totally agree. Also, no perks whatsoever.



-Mischa

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

Fund raising could be something many of us choose to take on, whether by personal donation or activity-based things that bring in funds.

I know Ash and I donated to the old country's site costs, and I'd be happy to do that here, but also I think we could run fun activities and events to actually generate funds and also raise our profile.

Whatever route we take, I think this would be a positive development and investment in the future.

Deborah

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

Deborah Leighton Plom wrote:

Fund raising could be something many of us choose to take on, whether by personal donation or activity-based things that bring in funds.

I know Ash and I donated to the old country's site costs, and I'd be happy to do that here, but also I think we could run fun activities and events to actually generate funds and also raise our profile.

Whatever route we take, I think this would be a positive development and investment in the future.

Deborah

Agreed on this matter. I know plenty of people who'd donate the funds to help run this. And i'm sure we have plenty of people who'd be willing to make original artwork for merchandise just for the site as well. As a community it would be nice to be able to have fun events with those that are nearby. Though this always ends up a legal debate on who's responsibility it is. If the members policy states that the Sims are the property of the Players, then the Site acts like a publicly shared company. The players are your stock holders. Why not let them invest in the future of the site, appoint a CFO to monitor donated funds. They can only be freely given, because of the nature of many of our sims.

If i didn't already have too much on my plate, I'd volunteer to help start up the donation process to help with site costs and development. So as a site, why not put it up to a vote. Ask the Phoenixians what their opinion on a donation option is. Then execute from there. None of you should have to shoulder this burden alone. We are friends, family, and fellow gamers. No reason we shouldn't help out.

Very Respectfully

Raven

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

As Euan and I were discussing, i get that legality, and keeping non-profit are important for this site as well. These are all things to consider for the future and the longterm. As it is, i don't think it'll be too difficult if those of us that want to privately donate to help alleviate costs do. Which as soon as payday comes around consider me in for a good chunk.

Raven

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

CFO?
It's Chief Flight Officer to me...  smile

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

Chief Financial Officer

but well played Krista, Well played.

Raven

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Re: Proposal: Phoenix Treasurer

How about Chief Accounting Guru?

Oh no, CAG's got connotations as well...

;-)

I don't think we need a vote for this position to happen, the GC could make it so, but the thing I'd want to make sure of first is that this wouldn't open us to legal attack from Fox or the like.

Ash

Last edited by Ash Leighton Plom (2013-08-13 12:40:52)

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