[Global_chapter_committee] Chapter Committee Policy Discussion

Josh Sokol josh.sokol at owasp.org
Wed Mar 21 20:36:28 UTC 2012

I'm renaming this discussion to further separate it from the other one.  I
agree with both what Kate and Seba have said so far and it seems like we're
driving toward a consensus on a new Chapter Committee policy which is
excellent.  So here's what I'm thinking:

* We need to update "Chapter 6: Chapter Activity" of the chapter handbook
to include additional verbiage on Inactive Chapters.  Currently we only say
that a chapter will be tagged as inactive if they have not hosted a meeting
or event in over a year or if the leader abandoned and nobody stepped up to
take the role.  We have identified some additional things to consider for a
chapter to be tagged as inactive and should probably try to hash those out

* Not necessarily a part of the handbook, but it sounds like we need to
create some GChapC policies around the flags we are looking for, how we
intend to handle them, etc.  You are absolutely right in that we should be
looking at some of these things as warning signs pointing to areas where we
could better engage with the chapters.

* I like the idea of reclaiming funds from inactive chapters in order to
strengthen other chapters.  Again, not necessarily part of the handbook,
but should become GChapC policy.

* In terms of covering Foundation costs, I agree that the Foundation
provides value in services, assets, and general things like insurance.  I
also agree that we need to cover these costs before profit is ever
realized.  The thing I've never been able to get a good answer on is what
are these things worth.  If we say it's a 90/10 split then we're
effectively saying that these resources are worth 10% of something, but
that something could be $0 or it could be $20k.  This is why I have tried
to avoid percentages and try to get an actual number.  Something that I can
apply regardless of event type, regardless of attendee fees, etc.  I think
that we can probably come up with a number that would be acceptable here,
but if the majority thinks 90/10 (or some other fractional split) is the
way to go, then I can support that.

* In terms of startup fees, I agree in principle, but I'll give you an
example where the no startup doesn't always work.  Assume a chapter has $0
in the bank, but wants to hold an event to raise money.  The first thing
they need, before they can find a sponsor, is a venue and a date.
Typically to lock a date in with a venue, it requires a deposit.
So....perhaps our committee should treat this as a "loan" and if the
chapter does not have enough money to cover the deposit we, as a committee,
can evaluate what they are doing and determine whether to assist them (if
the budget is available) until they can find a sponsor to pay it back.
This loan needs to be paid back immediately once the funding becomes
available.  Thoughts?

* For loss, I agree that it should be next to impossible to lose money
under the LASCON model.  That said, this model does require leaders who are
willing to stick to the plan and follow through.  This could be handled by
some minor accounting controls just to make sure that expense is never
greater than revenue + chapter account balance fora chapter.  Thoughts?

The good news is that I think we are all on the same page here in terms of
what we want the outcome of this discussion to be.  We just need to work
through the finer grained details.


On Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 2:06 PM, Seba <seba at owasp.org> wrote:

> see my remarks inline
> --seba
> 1) How do we, as a committee, define what constitutes "stale" chapter
>> funds?  Is it a timeframe?  Is it an active/inactive chapter status?
>> ****
>> I believe it is important to focus on the chapter that the funds are
>> there to support.  If the local chapter has funds but isn’t using them,
>> then this shows that support exisits for the chapter (individual
>> contributions or corporate donations) but the volunteer support is not at a
>> strong enough level to energize the chapter.  Perhaps maybe changing the
>> focus from the funds to the people might get to the root of the solution.
> this comes down to a key question: how do we differentiate active/inactive
> chapters.
> There should be a couple of easy metrics to raise warning flags: e.g.
> 1) the budget (if above 0) does not change over a period of 6 months or
> one year
> 2) the chapter does not announce or organize a chapter meeting over a
> period of 6 months or one year
> 3) a chapter budget continously stays above a certain treshold: e.g. $ 5000
> As Kate rightly points out: we have to focus on the people.
> If one of the above warning flags is raised (we have to automate this as
> much as possible) we ask the chapter leaders how we can help them and point
> out that they actually have a budget they can use to get back on track.
> Only when a chapter becomes inactive = the current chapter leader(s) step
> down, we could reclaim the budget. But I'd focus on finding new chapter
> leaders and reserve the remaining budget for the restart.
> If the chapter budget stays continously above the treshold (a luxury
> problem in my opinion): we kindly ask the chapter to spend it on chapter
> growth or sugest a list of donations (other chapters, GPC, Educations,
> Summit, ...)
> 2) If "stale" chapter funds are reclaimed, where do they go?  To the
>> Foundation?  To the Chapters Committee budget to reallocate?  Can a chapter
>> ever get those funds back?****
>> I have always been an advocate of absorbed funds from local chapters
>> remaining in the hands of the chapter committee.  Should a chapter then
>> need to access the funds as seed money, they can appeal to the committee of
>> their peers – less intimidating than “the mothership” As I have said
>> before, perception is 99% of reality, so maintaining that chapter support
>> group seems like it would be critical
> I'd say: the chapter committee to spend on startup chapters. In the event
> we have excess budget, the committee can re-allocate this to the board for
> other goals.
>> 3) What are the Foundation costs (hard and soft) that could be associated
>> with running a Chapter event?  Can we put a dollar value on those such as
>> $X per paid attendee?  That would make it easy for chapters to absorb them
>> as part of the event fee.****
>> The amount it costs for an attendee to attend a particular event will
>> vary  depending on a number of fluctuating criteria.  There is the
>> registration cost – depends on registration vendor, the Insurance cost (all
>> chapter events, conferences, meetings, etc globally are covered in the
>> Foundation policy), support staff time (varies depending on event and
>> effectiveness of local planning team), financial oversight, direct cost of
>> attendee (food, coffee, etc) which is usually covered by sponsorships, and
>> the use of the OWASP Brand.  The last item seems to be the most difficult
>> one to quantify.  How successful would Bill and Teds Application Security
>> conference be compared to Bill and Ted’s OWASP AppSec Event?  Can we
>> measure this?
> This will vary depending on the type of event, the event size, location
> and local versus global support.
> In practice the venue and catering make out the biggest costs: the local
> chapter board has to assure that these are covered with a good "business
> plan" for the event and look for sponsors upfront.
>> 4) How do we handle startup fees if the chapter does not have money in
>> their accounts?****
>> See answer to #2****
>> The chapter committee can “budget” annually for startup fees for local
>> chapters.
> In general a chapter should not need money to start up: we have organised
> 50+ attendee chapter meetings for years with zero budget. Once the chapters
> grows in number of attendees and chapter meetings, findings sponsor and
> budget becomes easier (ie attractive for the sponsors)
>> 4) How do we handle profit (ie. after both event and Foundation costs are
>> paid) from chapter events?  I've seen examples in OWASP of both 60/40
>> splits (membership) and 90/10 (chapter sponsorships).  I've also seen 50/50
>> tossed out there and Ivy's 80/20 from below.****
>> See answer to #2****
>> The Chapter committee can have the ability to directly support local
>> chapter activities through the donations from local events.  Again,
>> perception is important and I believe that local chapters may be less
>> critical with funds returning to the foundation if they had the comfort
>> level that it will go directly to support other chapters than be absorbed
>> by the Foundation.  The chapter committee then needs to understand their
>> own budget and be prepared to provide support for the hard and soft costs
>> back to the foundation on behalf of the local chapters.
> I woud put a minimum of 90/10 to cover the general administrative support
> costs and leave it up to the individual chapters on how they want to split
> it. I think we will be positively surprised on how much we can raise
> through a "volunteer" split.
>> 5) How do we handle loss?  More importantly, how do we ensure that events
>> don't lose more than a chapter has in their account?****
>> See answer to #2****
>> The chapter committee will have visibility to events that require
>> contracts, deposits, etc.  These events can receive additional support from
>> the committee (updates, reports)  The best way to prevent loss is to plan
>> adequately.  I think that the LASCON team has worked out a great formula
>> for a revenue generating local event that could be scaled globally.  Start
>> with a break even, bare bones event and then as sponsorships increase, the
>> event can be added to (thinking last minute addition of mechanical bull
>> sponsor in 2010)
> In general we should never have a loss, for the exceptional occasion we
> should cover this with the chapter committee budget and research the root
> cause with the chapter in question. A good case is Spain: here we should
> cover the loss and make sure they organize events again: now nothing
> happens.
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