[Foundation-l] Next board meeting

Brian McNeil brian.mcneil at wikinewsie.org
Tue Feb 26 13:56:24 UTC 2008

A charity's treasurer is always a member of the board. It is one of the
positions that is more you *must* have than more than *should* have. Where
you have a staff and noticeable amount of financial transactions to deal
with, the treasurer does not deal with these aspects. They employ someone on
staff to do the daily bookkeeping; either a Chief Accountant, or in more
Americanised terms, a Chief Financial Officer.

Looking at a small organisation, my father spent several years as the
treasurer for his local church. He had salary for a staff of one (the
priest), accounting of costs such as the manse and church buildings, and
management of donations to handle. This was all something that he could get
90% of done in a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon after church.

In this case, an accountant was only involved for a few hours every quarter
when government documents had to be filled out and filed.

WMF is bigger than that, at least in terms of the amount of money involved.
The record-keeping requirements are also more complex. To deal with this you
need someone full-time. Being full-time it means on staff and paid to
perform work that the smaller operation only periodically needs an
accountant to do.

The position of treasurer on the board then becomes more important, but -
hopefully - less onerous. Someone else is doing the daily bookkeeping and
you're in an executive position as treasurer. However, you need to know
enough to double-check the work of the CFO from time to time and give
intelligent advice on what priorities are. You also need to take the CFO's
work to the rest of the board. This is the hard work part of being

For these reasons you ideally need someone who has the experience to fill
the CFO position, but actually just act as the executive above them. This
makes it very difficult to elect a suitable candidate and far more
appropriate to appoint one. Someone taken from the community would obviously
be preferred, but the pool of qualified candidates is small.

Brian McNeil
-----Original Message-----
From: foundation-l-bounces at lists.wikimedia.org
[mailto:foundation-l-bounces at lists.wikimedia.org] On Behalf Of Ilario
Sent: 26 February 2008 11:01
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Next board meeting

The point is this: the board *must* represent the community but the
board *must* be also the link between the community and the management
(it's natural because the choice of the management is that any manager
can be *not* wikipedian).

With a function of *control* of the board on the management's work the
community can have *trust* on management's work.

In this vision I said that the role of treasurer is bigger than the
role that a board's member can have, but if we are looking for a
treasurer in a traditional point of view the treasurer must be a
person outside the board (probably), but in this case he will be a
member of the management.

Result: the management control himself, and this is not correct.

After the choice to take management's members from board's members
it's clear that the management doesn't have the "memory" of Wikipedia
and without an "osmosis" between the management and the board this
"memory" cannot be easily reach.

Result: the risk is that the management cannot have the trust of the
community and the community cannot recognize the management.


On Mon, Feb 25, 2008 at 12:33 PM, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton at gmail.com>
> >  My own suggestion would be that a treasurer who is an
>  >  appointed Board member would need to face the electorate not less than
>  >  six nor more than eighteen months after that appointment.  The six
>  >  months should be enough time for him to put his mark on the job, and
>  >  show that he can communicate with the general membership.
>  Why would an appointed member ever have to seek election? The point of
>  appointed members is to get people with specific skills the board
>  requires, the point of election is to get people that can represent
>  the community. They are distinct goals, and you shouldn't try and mix
>  them. (Of course, if a member of the community has the required skills
>  and can fulfil both roles, that's great.)
>  _______________________________________________
>  foundation-l mailing list
>  foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org
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