Board Meeting, January 4th, 2005

Attending:

  • Bdale Garbee (bdale)
  • Benj. Mako Hill (mako) (Vice-President)
  • Branden Robinson (Overfiend)
  • Bruce Perens (BrucePerens)
  • David Graham (cdlu) (Secretary)
  • Ian Jackson (Diziet)
  • Jimmy Kaplowitz (Hydroxide) (Treasurer)
  • John Goerzen (CosmicRay) (President)
  • Martin Schulze (Joey-)

Invitees present:

  • Christian T. Steigies (cts)
  • Drew Scott Daniels (mlots)
  • Jonathan McDowell (Noodles)
  • Michael Banck (azeem)
  • Michael Schultheiss (schultmc)
  • Warren Brian Noronha (warren)

Agenda:

  1. Opening
  2. Roll call
  3. President's update (John Goerzen)
  4. Treasurer's report (Jimmy Kaplowitz)
  5. Outstanding minutes (David Graham)
  6. New project membership request: Drupal
  7. Next meeting

Recorder: David Graham (Secretary)

The following minutes were adopted by the Board of Directors at its meeting of March 1st, 2005.

Minutes for the January 4th, 2005 Board meeting, held at 19:00 UTC in #spi on irc.spi-inc.org.

President's update (John Goerzen)

John Goerzen stated that he had no updates.

Treasurer's report (Jimmy Kaplowitz)

See appendix C for the text of the report.

In the Treasurers' report, Jimmy states that a possible solution for allowing non-US credit card donations to SPI is through a service called ECHO, which charges $19.95/month plus 2.26% of all donations plus $.30 per transaction. Using such a service, he states, is better than PayPal as PayPal has the problem of not being a bank and requiring an account.

ECHO allows us to script our own donation form, including a minimum donation amount.

The Board agrees that this is within the powers and budget of the Treasurer to do without formal board approval.

This goes to a motion:

Ian Jackson states:

"I move we thank the Treasurer for his research, and say we are happy for the Treasurer to carry on."

seconded by Branden Robinson.

Vote:

David Graham Yes
Ian Jackson Yes
Branden Robinson Yes
Bdale Garbee Yes
John Goerzen Yes
Jimmy Kaplowitz Abstain
Benj. Mako Hill Yes
Bruce Perens Yes
Martin Schulze Did not vote

The board moves that "We thank the Treasurer for his research, and say we are happy for the Treasurer to carry on." by a vote of 7 in favour, none against, 1 abstain, and 1 no-show.

Outstanding minutes (David Graham)

December 7th, 2004

A vote on the minutes was deferred until the meeting of February 1st.

New project membership request: Drupal

Bruce Perens states that SPI is not currently in good shape to handle Drupal's money, and wishes to ensure Drupal is aware of the problems.

The rest of the board agrees this is for Drupal to decide.

The Board established that Warren Noronha will be our contact with Drupal and that Dries Buytaert is in charge of the project.

A resolution (see Appendix B) to this effect is drawn up inviting Drupal to join SPI as an Associated project.

On the resolution 2005-01-04.iwj.1: Drupal as Associated Project, the vote is as follows:

Ian Jackson Yes
Branden Robinson Yes
John Goerzen Yes
Bruce Perens Yes
Benj. Mako Hill Yes
Jimmy Kaplowitz Yes
David Graham Yes
Bdale Garbee Yes
Martin Schulze Did not vote

Drupal is invited to join SPI as an associated project by a vote of 8 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions, and 1 no-show.

The next meeting is scheduled for February 1st, 2005 at 19:00 UTC.

The meeting closes at 19:41 UTC.

Appendix A: Current Board Membership

Date electedName Role
[2003-03-11]John Goerzen President
[2003-03-11]Benjamin Mako HillVice President
[2003-11-29]David Graham Secretary
[2004-02-20]Jimmy Kaplowitz Treasurer
[2004-07-29]Bdale Garbee  
[2004-07-29]Branden Robinson  
[2003-11-29]Ian Jackson  
[2003-03-11]Bruce Perens  
[2003-11-29]Martin "Joey" Schulze  

Appendix B: Approved Resolutions

Appendix C: Treasurers' Report

I have reviewed with great interest the discussion thread about a new report format for me to use. I will try to adopt some format based on those suggestions in time for the February report; I have not been able to do that yet, due to the busy pace of the holiday season and a lower-than-normal level of access to my computers while on vacation.

Bank balances

As of December 31, 2004, the FirstIB checking account contains $10,677.01. The only transaction since this account was opened was a $10 maintenance fee, which should more properly apply only to business accounts and not to nonprofit accounts such as ours. Branden or I will talk to them about this in an attempt to get the charge reversed. Hiccups like this are to be expected when an account has just been opened.

The American Express Financial Advisors account only sends statements quarterly and not monthly, and Branden and I are unaware of any online account viewing feature associated with that account. Therefore, expect an update on this account in the Treasurer's report for the February board meeting. We will look into the existence of any online or telephone account information system for this account.

Providence PO Box

I checked the Providence PO box twice in December. On December 16, there was a mail from our Secretary, David Graham, containing my copy of one of the forms used to open the First IB checking account. In addition to this, there was a sizable quantity of mostly large envelopes, none of which contained our name. Some of these simply had our PO Box number indicated, while others had indicated recipients such as "Receptionist," "Human Resources," "Law Office," and "Providence Law Office."

Understandably, I felt that some mistake had been made, and I discussed this with a postal employee. She determined that there was a law office which had a mailbox at that post office, and whose box number differed from ours by only one digit. She and I assumed that they must have made a typographical error in a job advertisement. The postal employee held the mail for the law office, none of which had any SPI-related markings on the envelope, and she said she would contact the law firm to have them correct their error. I made it clear that we would take any mail that did turn out to be for us despite appearances.

When I checked the mailbox again on December 21 soon before going on vacation, the box was empty, so presumably the above mishap got resolved appropriately. I will check it again shortly after I return to Providence on the 13th of this month.

Old business

As indicated above, the First IB account got opened and the funds deposited, with only the minor mishap of an accidental maintenance fee. Hooray! Branden has also received two ATM/Visa cards associated with the account, and the corresponding PINs. Unfortunately, mine as well as his went to the Indianapolis address, but he will send me mine after my return to Providence.

New business

I have done some investigating into alternative donation solutions, since there are many limitations of Network for Good. One option worth considering is ECHO, which is a reputable financial company that will provide a true merchant account at relatively reasonable rates. We would be able to process credit cards (the following rates apply to Visa and Mastercard but other brands are possible too) at a cost of $0.30 per transaction plus 2.26% of the donation amount, plus a $19.95/month fee for any months in which we receive donations. Checks can be cleared through this system too, if we so desire, for $0.30/transaction, although this is less obviously beneficial. This would include electronic checks where the user never physically mails us anything but just enters the info online.

The $19.95 fee is unfortunate, but it would be more than offset by the additional donations we would receive from international donors who cannot currently donate to us through Network for Good. (They can donate in their local currency, and we will receive US dollars after conversion by the credit card companies.) We can also, for those donors who wish it, set up recurring donations via periodic charges to their credit cards. I am not entirely sure whether we would want to recommend going through ECHO in only some cases and NfG in others, or only ECHO all the time.

One last benefit is that their gateway is truly open, in that they provide GPLed code to use their processing system in a plethora of UNIX-friendly programming languages including stalwarts like PHP and Perl, as well as make available a specification of their gateway interface for developer use. We can integrate their processing with our site, or if we prefer we can process through their Merchant America site for free. (The latter might be the way to go if we don't also want to purchase a commercial SSL certificate, in the interest of not making our donors worry about website security.)

A complication is that they require an associated bank account at First Regional Bank, but we can regularly transfer funds to our First IB account. There are no charges for this additional account if we make 10 or fewer debits per month, which would be the case if we transfer funds, say, weekly to First IB. I don't think this is a downside of ECHO, since all true merchant accounts have a similar requirement due to Visa and Mastercard rules. After all, it is a merchant account, and banks are often involved in legitimate tools such as that (as opposed to cheap imitations like PayPal).

Please take a look at the following links and tell me what you think. I may propose a resolution before or during the meeting (if a resolution is even necessary for this), or simply gather opinions for a future decision.

General info on their non-profit program, with other FAQs easily linked:

http://www.echo-inc.com/faqs/index.php?ba=view_subs&name=Nonprofit%20Program&cat_id=19

Fee structure for non-profits and more info on accepting donations:

http://www.echo-inc.com/faqs/index.php?ba=view_answer&cat_id=19&answer_id=1905&name=Nonprofit%20Program

http://www.echo-inc.com/accept-donation-payments-online.html

Info on working with their payment gateway:

http://www.openecho.com/echo_gateway_guide.html

Gateway tech specs:

https://wwws.echo-inc.com/ISPGuide-Menu.asp

Appendix D: Meeting Log

For the meeting log, please see the original minutes in the mailing list archive.