[Theforum] starting at the beginning

Marlene Bruce marlene at digitizethis.com
Fri Jun 7 14:33:50 CDT 2002

Hey folks,

I'd like to explain to you how I see things. You may not agree, but
please hear me out before you judge my perspective. :o)

First of all, I've found myself having to ask:

    "Why, of all the questions in front of us,
     are financial questions being treated like step 10
     and not step 1?"

Financial issues need to be the beginning.
Let's start at the beginning.

To wit:

As has been pointed out before, the kind of bandwidth we've been
using involves a major monthly expense.

It's not the sort of thing that can be sustained out of someone's
garage. Our kind of bandwidth requires a major trunk and a lot of


This means that we're going to need one or more of these types of
financial supporters:

* corporate sponsor;
* institutional sponsor;
* sustaining community sponsors.

We need to secure support from one or more so that we can avoid
becoming everybody's favorite red-headed stepchild:

* a subscription site.

Or worse:

* nothing at all.

In order to achieve the ability to look for support (whether from
corporations, institutions, or the community), we either have to
become a "for-profit" business (cringe) or a "not-for-profit"

Those are the only two choices, right?

We obviously don't want to run this as a business that would *charge*
for its services. Ideally we would be a _non-profit_

The only kind of profit-making endeavors we want to undertake are
those of the fundraising nature, right? I mean, how many of Americans
here have NPR/PBS mugs, hats, or t-shirts, or other sponsorship gifts
like videos, books, CDs, or the like? Quite a few, I bet.

Before we can even think about looking for sponsorships on the
corporate or institutional level, we would need to have our ducks in
a row with regards to our non-profit status. We have to be able to
tell them how much money we need, and assure them that we have proper
officers and management in place to oversee that money. The same goes
for community sponsors.

Therefore it is counterproductive to first set up a wish list of
everything that we'd *like* to have in a perfect world (hardware,
bandwidth, staff, backup facilities, load balancing servers, all
topped with whipped cream and nuts) *before* we first know what our
resources will be. Coming up with some different scenarios for levels
or stages of hosting situations is, of course, a worthwhile exercise,
but it shouldn't be mistaken for being the beginning or most critical

After all, it's quite possible that we will have to *first* see what
kind of resources we can conjure up, and then come up with a plan to
make the best use of it. We have to plan for the possibility of
starting small and growing as our resources increase.

Therefore, financial considerations have to be step one, not step ten
(or even four) of the process of setting up our SysAdmin requirements
and plans.

For example, when we:

* approach people asking to meet and talk with them about helping us...
* hope visitors will actually take the time to read a "how to give"
page on the site (or even more unlikely, convince them to *act* on
* approach an institution to request their financial support...

...each situation will *first* involve people asking for our
financial status and system of accountability.

At least that's how I see it. It appears to be the way the world
works, and we gotta be sure we're dealing in reality here. If anyone
has an alternative to this way of looking at things, one that leads
to some kind of viable evolt.org-sustaining process I've overlooked,
I'd be pleased to hear it. As much as anyone, I want us to have a
viable, working solution (even if it's not our preferred ideal) prior
to year's end.

I'm not trying to be harsh, just realistic from my perspective.

Dan has been and continues to be very generous on our behalf. We need
to find a way to let him put his resources elsewhere. Let's start at
the beginning ... our categorization status, ability to raise money,
and understanding what it will realistically buy.

Profit/Non-profit status --> Fundraising --> Hosting.

All of this can be worked on concurrently, but our status has to be a
primary focus.

Thanks for listening,

More information about the theforum mailing list