It’s official: Creating the Future is building its infrastructure and becoming a real live organization!
Not that our efforts haven’t been “real” so far. It’s just that we have always felt like we’ve lived in two worlds.
On the one side, we have always believed in our hearts that the Community Benefit Sector holds the keys to creating a healthy, vibrant future for our world. And yet we weren’t actually a full-fledged, tax-exempt, Community-Benefit organization ourselves. Somehow it has felt like we were looking in from the outside.
All that is changing, and we are so excited – the seat of our souls feels well-seated for the first time in a long time. Every single day we feel as if we are home.
Because we have vowed to share what we are learning along the way, we wanted to take some time to catch you up on our doings. It seems we are turning even the seemingly dull “legal and financial infrastructure issues” into tools for aiming at this organization’s fullest potential. How cool is that?
Building the Legal Infrastructure
It has been a kick so far, building this organization by transparently engaging the wisdom that is around us. One result of that effort is that we’ve found an attorney who wants to help us build that way of being into the legal infrastructure that will “be” the organization!
Ellis Carter is perhaps the most creative, innovative and knowledgeable attorney this sector could know, and we feel honored to have her guiding us in this process. Her Twitter name is @CharityLawyer and there is no more apt name (except perhaps CommunityBenefitLawyer, but that would take up almost all her 140c!) If you need both information AND wisdom, subscribe to her blog, follow her on Twitter, or better yet, hire her!
We have been working with Ellis on all it will take to file for tax exemption – describing the core purpose of Creating the Future, defining our fundraising plans, our budget.
But then there is the part that is the most exciting – the part we will be sharing over the next few months. And that is the whole issue of governance structures.
Some of what we are hoping to build into the bylaws are the answers to questions such as…
• Is it a good idea to build recruitment criteria into the bylaws, to guide future boards with some of the wisdom you all have shared at this post here? And if so, how to do that?
• How do we build into the bylaws the process of openly engaging the world at large in all major strategic decisions, as we have been doing all this year?
• How do we build into the bylaws provisions that prevent the organization from being hijacked by a powerful individual – something virtually every governance consultant has experienced, along with the sinking feeling that comes with having no choice but to helplessly watch as disaster unfolds?
• How do we ensure that core values will guide the decisions of future boards?
• And many more questions and issues that each of us has encountered in so many organizations.
As we tackle each of these issues, we will be coming to you for deep discussion (and if you have thoughts now, let’s hear them!). The result will be samples that will be freely available online, where we intend to share the final product of our own bylaws as well. After all, you will have helped create them!
Our first step in this process has already garnered 20 comments and growing – the question of what criteria we should use for recruiting board members. If you haven’t read that whole discussion – especially the comments – there is a rich resource of information, ideas and wisdom in the thoughts people have shared. Go there now and read it, or at least print it out for future reference. (Tip – if you make a brief comment, you can then click to follow as additional comments are added. With a thread like this, I would absolutely recommend that!)
Another brilliant mind is helping us build the financial accounting side of this organization. Carolyn Sechler doesn’t just dabble in accounting for this sector; she is the CPA to 300 organizations! She is creative and wise, and she finds deep joy in cutting straight through the BS (yeay!).
Also, she is wacky and whimsical. Yes, a wacky, whimsical accountant. Totally takes my breath away.
Carolyn is setting up the initial books for Creating the Future, and she is advising on other simple things we can do to create financial policies and other necessities. Carolyn believes in using and sharing as much free stuff as possible (you can see a ton of stuff at her site here), and so again, as we develop policies, we will be asking for your experience with these same exact issues. And then we will share back out with the world whatever we develop!
The exciting news for us, though, is that we now have an EIN number and a bank account, and yes – a PayPal account just for Creating the Future, so we can officially accept donations. And that is just in time for the projects I will be sharing in the next few days, where yes, we could use your help!
This sector has, in the past, kept discussions about finance and legal issues behind closed doors. While our experiment in operating openly is still very new, we just want to report that so far, we cannot find one good reason to hide – and we can find many many reasons to openly engage.
We hope you are learning along with us on this adventure. If you have stories to share about your own efforts at working transparently, especially when it comes to finance and legal issues, I hope you will share them here. We want to learn along with you!