Top Posts 2: Woe, thrice woe
To read the full text of this post on the International Freecycle Moderator’s Group you need to be a member. (Also note the group has gone through a slight rebranding and is now located at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IntlFCMS/ rather than the old IFMS.) Membership of this group is restricted to moderators of TFN compliant groups, including ones that have been delisted.
Anyway onto the post. Actually because of the group’s privacy rules I will provide neither the full text nor a synopsis. Members can read the full text in Freecycle grants etc… – sorry for the long post! What I will do, however is draw out some of the questions raised in the post.
The core question raised regards how a local TFN group could raise funds locally and use those funds locally. It is not about how they go about chasing funds, but assuming funds are actually coming then what bank account to use, what fiscal controls are in place, and how and if this should be done with relation to the TFN company. This post became interesting since the issues initially were addressed by Deron. Unfortunately he seems to have left the group hanging in limbo without any final and acceptable solution.
You see a “normal” charity has bank accounts set up in each country in which it operates, with proper fiscal controls so that any local group can establish or reuse a bank account properly and that any funding organisation can thus have total confidence that the money is used properly according to the funding guidelines.
TFN does not have such fiscal controls in place, except for perhaps the USA. So the first problem that arises is whether any money so raised in another country, or for that matter in the USA, should be routed through TFN’s own bank accounts. If any money is routed Internationally then you can easily hit some large financial penalties for moving money around, that’s one problem.
Another is that if it actually ends up in TFN’s pockets then it could take control of whether and when that money goes back out. This may suit TFN’s accounting needs but is likely to be entirely contrary to the local group’s needs and indeed their funder’s needs.
There is also the issue that once in TFN’s hands it might be technically possible that TFN might only return funds if spent according to TFN’s guidelines – and that these might actually not be aligned either with the original funder’s goals, or even the local group’s needs.
Rewinding a bit before any money moves, or is even promised to move, someone needs to sign for the money. So who should sign? Should the local moderator sign? Should a national supermod, such as a GOA, sign? Should even Deron sign?
I hope I have alluded to some of the issues raised clearly enough. Any moderator who has tried to raise funds for a TFN related group probably has felt some of the pain. It would be nice to think that TFN spent a lot of its own resources helping groups to raise funds, though in this example I am sorry to say the outcome was far from satisfactory.
Such problems actually prevent a group growing even when local funding is potentially being thrown at them. In this case it seems even the funder was recommending groups should change their affiliation away from TFN!
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