Time to report on my first year as board member of the Toronto Free-Net. Previously, I had been a TFN member since 1994. Being active in its management, however, became quite a different story.
As soon as the new board was elected, I accepted the office of Treasurer, a position I kept for four months. During that time, I became familiar with the day-to-day financial situation of our non-profit corporation, and realized how close we were to bankruptcy. At that time, paying bills was not a matter-of-course event; what was matter-of-course event was whether we could pay a given bill or not!
Drastic measures had to be taken, and they were. Soon, the Board abolished the Executive Director's position, and attempted to eliminate all expenses not vital to the organization. Even the rental of a TFN office was at times in question. Fortunately, we eventually were able to keep it.
As Treasurer, I was able to provide the Board with monthly financial statements, something which had not been done in quite a number of years. I also produced financial statements for the previous year (2008-2009) a task which also allowed me to discover more of our inner workings. Unfortunately, the Board did not see fit to approve these statements, some board members being of the view that the manner in which income had been computed was not proper. So, I left it to other board members, if they so wished, to take care of that task. As a Board member, I have not yet seen any further financial statement prepared since by anyone else.
Which brings me to volunteer work. In my view, volunteering for an organization is an offer of time freely given with no expectation of monetary return (all our volunteers are now exactly that: they offer their time and receive no money).
Which means that work done by volunteers is precious. Even if it does not have a price tag attached to it (as no remuneration flows from it), it ought to be treated with the greatest of care.
Personally, even if I am no longer an officer of the Corporation, I freely give some of my time to tasks which do not require a lot of it, but which are vital to the organization: looking up if we have enough money in the bank to pay our bills, preparing cheques, and other tasks of a similar nature.
I would encourage TFN members to offer their time to the Free-Net. As you can see, it does not have to be for huge jobs, but sometimes, performing in a reliable manner a simple, clear, useful task can allow the organization to grow, as everything which needs to be done gets done, and as no one is forced to do eveything himself, as might have been the case in the past.
With this in mind, please volunteer your talents to the Free-Net if you can; you never know that which might be very useful to the organization.
And to show that there is life outside of the Free-Net, you might wish to visit one of my sites, where I describe some of my non-Free-Net (and quite unusual) activities. :-)
November 23, 2010
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