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 Post subject: We need your opinion on the donation split percentage!
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:05 am 

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Currently, any Browncoat group that does a CSTS event, whether a full screening or an Affiliate event, donates at least 75% to Equality Now and up to 25% to other registered charities. A few events have expressed a desire to donate more than 25% to other charities. The CSTS Steering Committee and the 2013 Global team recognize that this is a big decision and everyone should be allowed to have their say.

There will be a discussion about this on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, in the CSTS Forums and on the website until the end of Sept at which time there will be a poll for all to vote.
Emotions can run high when it is something important to you, but let's make sure the conversation stays civil.

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 Post subject: Re: We need your opinion!
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:36 pm 
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Regarding queries about the history of the donation proportion: The proportional split was set in 2009 by the then Global Steering Committee and Global Team to settle a question that had been asked for a number of years (it makes it easier for organisers to know what they can do, rather than having a moving target all the time). The timing was simply because CSTS was getting a bit more structured (after CSTS had found it's feet and due to some lessons learned from challenges faced by past global teams). They settled on 75/25 as a reasonable proportional split (which the CSTS community at the time seemed quite happy with). Prior to this, there may have been events that were using a different split Many cities still donate 100% to Equality Now.

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 Post subject: Re: We need your opinion!
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:40 pm 
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The following are posts from Amanda Sullivan, representing Equality Now, which were posted to the CSTS forum during the Event Organizer consultation in late August.

"I just want to weigh in here that, yes, of course we are ok with whatever you all come up with. You do all the work, every year, year after year, and the results have been mind-blowing, spectacular and have helped us more than I can tell you. Equality Now is small, you know, and because of that we do not like to duplicate efforts on any given issue. Violence against women and girls is ubiquitous, a worldwide epidemic and we would like to take up so much more but we simply can't. Rather we work with our grassroots partners in the other countries to strategically support their efforts for justice for women and girls. An exception to the Action campaigns is our Levenson work (UK), also our work on pressing for a UN Committee on Discrimination against women in law put in place to monitor countries, as we believe that laws must be enacted and enforced, also our SOAWR work in Africa. These are broader issues and are just as strategically important as our campaign work. Again, we always work in collaboration with our partners and focus on pressuring governments through strategic litigation, to enact and enforce laws protecting their women and girls.

We are also always sorely in need of funding, especially now as we are going through a period of major growth that is necessitating a lot of adjustments and organizational changes. It was bound to come eventually, we are 20 years old now and growth was inevitable, and is a good sign! Obviously, we need funding in order to realize that growth (85-88% of our funds go to our programs) and I hope you ALL know how extremely and deeply grateful we are for your extraordinary support and efforts on our behalf.

Having said all that I want to also reassure you that we totally understand your desire to support your local charities, and how important doing so - in varying degrees - might be to all of you. I believe it is a tribute to who you are, every city uniquely so.

I hope, WE hope that you are all able to come to a compromise that is satisfactory to everyone. I am sure that you will be able to. All of you do this every year for FREE. The way I see it is, you do it because you love Joss, you love the crew, the series and the movie, you love getting together and pulling it together and celebrating. You love the community of CST. It truly is a unique and brilliant example of people working together for a common purpose. I have witnessed it firsthand and it is very, very SHINY.

One more thing, I hope you won’t ever hesitate to come to me with any questions about anything involving Equality Now and/or our history with Joss, with CSTS, our future, anything.

With all my warmest wishes,
Mandy"

"Just to let you know, EN was/is part of that coalition re: representation of women in the media, from the very beginning. Our London office director was quoted often in your press and had a fantastic piece in the Guardian. There is a lot that we do that we do not do Action Campaigns on, this being a prime example. Everything we do is up on the website."

"We cannot register in Canada without 'bricks and mortar'."

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Global Steering Committee Chair (2010-2015)
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Local Event Organiser/Crew: Melbourne (2007, 2009-2017), Vancouver (2006)
New Melbourne Browncoats Inc - newmelbournebrowncoats.com


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 Post subject: Re: We need your opinion!
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:43 pm 
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Personally, I'm in favour of leaving the split as it is - minimum 75% for Equality Now, maximum 25% to other charities (where groups can choose to donate 75%-100% to Equality Now, with the remaining going to charities of their choice).

The purpose of CSTS has (from it's very beginning) been about raising money and awareness for Equality Now, not just being a general charity event for Browncoats. There are many opportunities for Browncoats to raise funds for local charities, and there are no limitations that state that only CSTS events can organise screenings of Serenity or Whedonverse content or other activities for charity. While I understand that there are some groups who would prefer to raise money for local charities (particularly when there is no national Equality Now office in their country), CSTS has always been intended to be an Equality Now fundraiser. And for what it's worth, Equality Now's donor base isn't as large as you might think - like many other charities, they're sorely in need of funding.

To me, CSTS is not just about having a large dollar figure raised for a whole lot of charities. From it's beginnings, it's meant to be about using Joss Whedon's works (specifically Serenity) to raise awareness and funds for Equality Now.

I wasn't particularly keen on the reduction from 100% for Equality Now (back in 2009), but I am accepting of the desire for that change. I feel that to reduce it further would create an environment that steers CSTS away from being an Equality Now fundraiser, and instead towards being a catch-all Browncoat charity event (which could then cause groups to feel restrained from organising non-CSTS fundraising activities because they may feel like they have to organise under the CSTS banner as some kind of "that's how Browncoats fundraise" expectation, as well as cause us to lose the focus of CSTS).

Full Disclosure: I am a member of the CSTS Global Steering Committee, a past Global Team member (2009) and have also been organiser/crew of CSTS events in Melbourne, Australia (2007, 2009-2013) and Vancouver, Canada (2006).

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Global Steering Committee Chair (2010-2015)
Global Team: Comms Lead (2009)
Local Event Organiser/Crew: Melbourne (2007, 2009-2017), Vancouver (2006)
New Melbourne Browncoats Inc - newmelbournebrowncoats.com


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 Post subject: Re: We need your opinion on the donation split percentage!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 2:29 am 
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There is more discussion/debate on other sites, but I figure since it's a discussion re: CSTS, that I should post my 2 cents here.

This is a slightly edited/modified version of what I posted to an internal thread:

------------

Since CSTS was founded on the premise that it is a Joss Whedon/Equality Now based charity event that involves the screening of the movie Serenity, it makes sense for CSTS to stay EN-centric. With the current optional ratio of 75%/25%, that is especially the case, but potentially lowering the optional threshold to 50/50 may be 'diluting the cause'. Not to say that raising money for other charities is a bad thing in any way shape or form, but if it is a CSTS event, Equality Now should be the main charity that is represented with more of the donations going toward Equality Now than the other charities being represented.

The problem faced is that there isn't a "one-size-fits-all' solution that covers other local and national charities that people may have more brand/mission recognition with and that the "one-size-fits-most" solution may exclude or drive folks away that would like to raise more money for the different charities. And I think that is OK.

As mentioned before, CSTS isn't the only game in town for organizers to come together to raise money for a charity. A perfectly good event can be held without CSTS affiliation or help. It's just that CSTS provides a comfortable framework and support structure in which organizers can use and help each other with to put together successful charity functions. CSTS also provides some legitimacy to the event and provide a level of trust that the money raised will go towards the charities represented. The fact that CSTS events have been held since 2006 with 800k raised so far is also an awesome thing you can associate with your event when it is a CSTS event. This isn't to say that an organizer couldn't run a legitimate, trusted, and successful event without CSTS, but as a first time organizer without the support of CSTS, it would be difficult, and you have to have your own history, and that organizer wouldn’t be part of the global movement.

So with all that said, we have two main CSTS types of events, a Screening Event, which includes a screening, and an Affiliate Event, which is an event without a screening. Both currently have the same requirements of 75% towards EN, with (optionally) 25% going towards other charities (Not including a separate donation bucket, food drive, specific item auction, etc). For these two types of events, I think EN should remain the forefront, and in order for that to be the case, that EN should get the majority of money raised, which if I had to slap a number down, it would be 60% or more. (Side note: personally, I like 75, but other than ‘majority’, I don’t have real strong feelings on the exact number, my folks will most likely always elect to provide 100% to EN for our CSTS events).

So, instead of trying to go with a one-size-fits-all or one-size-fits-most-but-not-really-anyone (I’m looking at you Donnie Darko Bunny Costume with gorilla arms and short legs!) on the main regular types of events that should be EN-centric, what about additional categories that would include folks that would like to be included in the CSTS family, but cannot stick to the donation percentage guidelines due to other factors? Those folks in that category should still donate to EN, with a lot lower donation % threshold, but still be connected to the CSTS community, have their EN charity donation amount count towards the total, but perhaps have different ‘branding’ guidelines to identify the event as a CSTS partner event instead of a ‘main’ CSTS event.

My Role with CSTS: I am an event organizer. I also head up a charity that holds other non-CSTS events at conventions.


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 Post subject: Re: We need your opinion on the donation split percentage!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:57 am 
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What is important to remember in this discussion is the fact that some cities who would like to give more to their local charities are willing to leave CSTS if nothing changes. That means fewer cities and less money to Equality Now. You can have 50% of a city’s take go to EN or you can have none of it. Which is better? EN is not a 501c3 equivalent tax favored charity in Canada, this may affect charitable giving . Amanda at EN has stated that she is fine with a reduced split. Think carefully before you are willing to part company with these cities and lose their contribution. I think it is important for us to stay together. Each city can give as much as 100% to EN or as little as 50%. It is very likely that that the amount raised will be little changed if we reduce the split. It is certain that amount raised will be a good deal lower if we do not. Evolution and compromise are crucial to the survival of any organization. You can have 20 cities adhering to a strict orthodoxy and raise $50,000.00 or you can have 40 raising $100,000.00. Which is better?


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 Post subject: Re: We need your opinion on the donation split percentage!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:18 pm 
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Is this discussion/vote only going to be about changing the current split?

Is my idea of creating a new category for those that want to donate less than the current split off the table?


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 Post subject: Re: We need your opinion on the donation split percentage!
PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 6:11 am 
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I apologise in advance for the length of this post but it turns out I have a lot of thoughts about this issue that have been percolating in my head for a couple of months.

For those interested in my connection with CSTS I helped organise CSTS Melbourne in 2010, 2011, and 2012, I have been CSTS twitter monkey since June 2010 and this year I’ve also taken on the role of Donations Administrator at Global level. I attended my first CSTS event in 2011.

I do not believe the donation % should change. For many reasons.

To me CSTS is about thanking Joss Whedon. The person who not only created the ‘Verse and characters we love so much but who believed enough to fight for their story to continue, fought with us to get Serenity. Equality Now is his chosen charity, he is the reason we all came together, this is our thank you to him. And while it’s nice to see big figures roll in, I think the awareness raising about EN is equally as important as the money donated.

Something I recently realised about one of the impacts of a % change is on the Donations Admin. Currently we confirm donations with Equality Now and KNTR, if donations are made to other charities we usually take it on good faith the proof of donation (copy of receipt, cheque etc emailed to us) is what was donated. We can guarantee most of the money goes where it’s meant to, which is one reason CSTS has such a good reputation. If the % is changed all of the charities will have to be contacted, some who are not aware of who we are may wonder why we’re asking, it may take a lot longer to verify etc. It will create a lot more work.

Some people are worried CSTS is dying because we don’t have as many cities participating in the past couple of years. I don’t believe this to be even remotely the case. However CSTS is in severe danger of dying in the next year or so because nobody is stepping up to help at Global level. There are currently 4 of us doing the work of at least 11 people. If it wasn’t for Jen and Lioness doing an incredible amount of work the last few years I’m not sure there would currently be a Global CSTS. We almost didn’t have a Global Event Coordinator this year, and I have no idea if anyone will volunteer for the role next year. I mention all this, which may seem irrelevant to the current discussion, only so that when I say something creates more work people understand it’s not that we’re afraid of hard work but that Global is currently stretched to breaking. If you really want to see CSTS survive in whatever form then consider volunteering or encouraging others to at Global.

I’m in Australia where EN has no office and little to no press coverage yet our events are growing and currently all Australian events give 100% to EN. I can’t speak for any other cities but I know when I worked on Melbourne events we felt it was important to inform people about EN, what they did, why their work was vital and what the connection between us is. If cities choose not to make Equality Now an important part of their event, that is their decision.

If watching the When I Speak video doesn’t make you think it’s important to support Equality Now then I doubt what I’m about to say will change your mind. There was something that happened earlier this year that made me proud and so very happy CSTS is such a big fundraiser for EN. If you didn’t hear, back in May an 11 year old girl in England wrote a heart breaking letter to the British office of EN asking them to help her avoid being subjected to FGM. I can’t help thinking where would she be if Equality Now wasn’t here. EN has been doing a lot of work in the UK in particular on FGM. Because EN exists she had someone to turn to, there is hope for her and other girls that they won’t be horribly mutilated.


And if that wasn’t enough there was a report from the World Health Organisation in June which found violence against women is at epidemic levels, 35.6% of all women worldwide will experience violence. EPIDEMIC LEVELS.

CSTS is a global organisation with events across the world and I believe we should mainly support a charity that works with and benefits people worldwide.

This is a difficult discussion at times because it’s so hard to say this charity should be supported more than another because they are all deserving and do vital work.

No one is stopping anyone from doing good in the name of Browncoats. Yes the number of cities has fallen in the last 2 years but everything thing ebbs and flows, I think the fact we’ve kept so strong in numbers for so many years has been an amazing achievement. There are many factors for the cities we’ve lost and I think the donation split would account for less than a handful.

If people want an umbrella organisation to support and be a hub for a whole host of Browncoat fundraising then we create that, but that’s not what CSTS is.

If hypothetically we do change to a 50/50 split, what’s to say the cities who wanted the change in a few years leave anyway or want the split reduced again?

I am hopeful for the future of CSTS, through twitter I'm lucky to talk with people who have just discovered Firefly or CSTS or both. And I get to talk to people who are thinking about running an event because there's not one near them. As far as I know the current split has not put off anyone thinking of running an event and I don't think the current donation % is damaging us.

The CSTS and EN symbols are entwined in our logo, and I think EN should remain our primary charity focus.

Thank you for reading.


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 Post subject: Re: We need your opinion on the donation split percentage!
PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2013 3:42 pm 
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I completely understand about not wanting to add more work to a already thinned volunteer force, and I too feel the effects of folks not volunteering for higher level planning efforts such as the Global team of CSTS. It would be something I would be interested in helping with, but I have my own organization to help with, along with lots of other things on my plate... but that's another subject.

Question I had was on why we check beyond EN on donations given to different charities? And if we are not checking all of them now, why would we start if the donation % is changed? I feel the donation to EN is on behalf of the CSTS movement, and the other charity donations are on behalf of the local organization for their own reasons. Beyond taking it upon good faith that the donations were properly made, should CSTS Global be on the hook to follow up and verify with each charity? I'm of the opinion that it is unnecessary step, especially since there is not enough Global volunteers to do all the work. If there was plenty of folks volunteering for this, sure it would be nice to be able to verify everything and keep everyone 100% honest, but then we also need to start looking at everyone's expenses, number of tickets sold, etc etc to make sure the math is correct on donation %'s and we can go down some deep, dark and scary holes to ensure that everything is legitimate. I'm going down an extreme path, obviously, but my basic questions still stands, why check beyond EN, if it's not a 100% on everything?

I would agree as well, as it the way CSTS is structured, the donation split is good. (as stated before personally, I like 75, but other than ‘majority’, I don’t have real strong feelings on the exact number, my folks will most likely always elect to provide 100% to EN for our CSTS events). With CSTS checking the minimum 75% donation going to EN, attendees can feel good about the event they are going to is legit.

This is why I also like the idea of a different category of CSTS partner, in which they would donate less than the main CSTS event. CSTS would verify the % donated to EN, and local attendees can feel good about that, and can get other sources of affirmation that the proper donations are going to the other charities that money is being raised for. CSTS shouldn't be on the hook for being the verifier for these events because CSTS/EN isn't necessarily the main attraction for these events. Of course, this wouldn't work for Global if the ultimate goal is to verify every charity donation made from every type of CSTS event, because it was cause tons of extra work, so I understand why this would not be optimal or beneficial to the CSTS organization just to keep more cities within the umbrella of CSTS.

I guess before I go on more, what is the official CSTS stance/policy on charity donations for other charities other than EN from a verification stand point? Do you contact each and every charity, some charities, or just need a copy of the donation receipt?


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 Post subject: Re: We need your opinion on the donation split percentage!
PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:54 pm 
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Lioness can explain the process better than I but CSTS does verify every donation to every charity. We do this so attendees can be absolutely sure that all events do as they said they would do and that the money, all the money, goes to good causes.


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 Post subject: Re: We need your opinion on the donation split percentage!
PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2013 9:28 pm 

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What Dave said! :) But, that said, there are various ways to ensure the donation was made and in most cases we do not need to get in touch with the other charities as the Organizers provide sufficient proof. There are various checks and balances in place right from when a registration is sent in; we ask for information on the other charities including a website if they have one.
Sometimes a city's total can't be posted for quite some time because there has been no verification to either the city or to us that the money has been received. This is true if the charity is small or doesn't understand that they can't just wait till year end to acknowledge donations.

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 Post subject: Re: We need your opinion on the donation split percentage!
PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:28 pm 
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Ok.. my follow up question :)

If you are confirming 100% of donations, regardless of which charity it is going to, how is it determined that the donation amount is the true donation raised, and expenses towards the event is a valid expense that should come out of money raised instead of out of the pockets of the organizers?

It's a bit nit-picky, but if you want the attendees to be absolutely sure that all events are run honestly and that the money raised is going towards good causes, shouldn't that include what the organizers claim as event expenses that are deducted from the overall donation amount? Should organizers provide a financial report on the event to include income, expenses, donations, etc to make sure everything is on the up and up?

Again - I'm nitpicking a bit about this, because in relation to this split percentage, or my idea (that's not really getting any traction) of a different category, is that as more cities donate money to different charities, it will just cause additional workload on an already strained volunteer workforce. Even if the split does not change, if more cities start donating 25% to various charities, I don't think it is sustainable.

Maybe it is... I'm not doing the work and am gracious of those that are, so my questions/comments may not matter since I'm not involved in the back-end work. Just throwing my thoughts out there :)


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 Post subject: Re: We need your opinion on the donation split percentage!
PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:43 pm 
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When I ran my events I provided receipts for everything. The cost of the theater rental, receipts from Costco for the poster printing, from Paypal for the swag and merch, everything. Is it possible to game the system? Sure. You can under-report merch and ticket sales, you can fake invoices for stuff you didn't pay for. But other than sending jack booted Agents of Shield with XXX truth serum and nipple clamps we just have to trust that the event organizers are doing the best they can to run an honest show. We can verify what you send off to the charities. The rest is on you, the organizers. What do you stand for?


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 Post subject: Re: We need your opinion on the donation split percentage!
PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 1:39 am 
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Nodgarb - as an Organizer, I do provide that type of report. For the past three years I've sent in a detailed budget with line items for everything, from ticket sales and Quantum Mechanix merch purchases to the cost of the fortune cookies ($16 for 400) and the $1.44 packs of dinosaurs used in trivia prizes. I think that's pretty standard? although I don't handle the Global side of things so I can only comment on my own event. Personally, I haven't sent in copies of all the receipts - I felt that might be overloading the Global team (plus I don't have a good scanner setup) - but I've saved them all in case Global/EN/anybody want to audit us.


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 Post subject: Re: We need your opinion on the donation split percentage!
PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 1:48 am 

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It used to be mandatory - I can remember sending in a full tallying of expenses and income. But at some point it wasn't insisted upon any more but we really appreciate it when it comes in.
And yeah, it would be easy enough to fake it. Although I have to say, CSTS has kept a sharp eye out over the last 8 years and I really don't think a lot has slipped by.

As for your idea, Nodgarb, there has been discussion about it but I think myself it is a slightly separate discussion and needs to be discussed on its own. On Whedonesque there were suggestions that things remain as they are and a change be looked at after the 10th anniversary. Maybe that is a good time for it.

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