Agenda item for February SPI board meeting

Robert Brockway robert at
Sun Feb 5 14:04:24 UTC 2012

On Sat, 4 Feb 2012, Jimmy Kaplowitz wrote:

> One thought first on discussing this in the meeting: we should probably 
> have a predetermined time limit for this item, since discussions are

Yes fair enough.  I find that having a real time discussion with all or 
most directors present is a useful way to move a discussion forward.  A 
short discussion should be sufficient to get us started.

> As for my substantive thoughts:
>> (1) Using a back office company
> I was at one point involved with another nonprofit that used this kind 
> of service. That nonprofit ended up moving those man-hours to in-house 
> volunteer board members because it wasn't cost-effective for their 
> needs. Although every organization is different and it would be a bit 
> less inappropriate for SPI than for them, I still think it's a worse 
> option for us than either your option #2 or the status quo.

Yes I personally suspect that option #2 would probably offer better value 
for money but I'd like to take a closer look at option #1.

> This seems useful. We do seem to be rather bottlenecked on the man-hours 
> of remarkably few individuals, principally Michael. To be clear, I'm 
> very happy with what Michael is doing, and having been in his role some 
> years ago I know how hard it is. Still, more man-hours would give him 
> and the rest of SPI more flexibility.

Indeed, and it would allow SPI to continue to scale.

> That's fine if the Secretary and Treasurer are willing to do the 
> corresponding oversight for that arrangement. :) Still, depending on

Yes this is the sort of thing that we would need to sort out.

I wrote:
>> An arrangement like this would ideally operate with limited
>> commitment on either SPI or the office assistant to minimise
>> liability and costs.
> Not sure what you mean by "limited commitment". Certainly it would

In many jurisdictions employment contracts (such as those used by 
full-time or permanent employees) carry with them potentially wide ranging 
responsibilities & liabilities in law for the organisation and even 
officers and directors.

Fortunately labor laws normally allow for less formal arrangements, with 
less responsibilities and liabilities on each side.

IANAL.  I base my comments on research I've done in various jurisdictions.

> require some minimum level of ongoing oversight, as well as some sort of 
> contractual agreement to protect confidentiality where that makes sense 
> (e.g. donor info or sensitive early-stage discussions with potential 
> associated projects), plus more insurance and legal advice than with no 
> employees.

NDAs and confidentiality agreements can occur in all sorts of contexts 
(I've signed many over the years as an employee, contractor, consultant, 
etc) so I don't think we'd have any problems there.

> Agreed. All of that is reasonable. And, at least based on the labor laws 
> for US jurisdictions I've looked into, the rules that apply with only 
> 1-3 employees are relatively few and manageable with a bit of due care.

That's reassuring :)



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