Sonoma County Pagan Network

Meeting Minutes for Dec. 13, 2009

10:30 a.m. in Sebastopol, Coffee Cats Café

In Attendance: Bruce, Jeanie, Leeanen, Helen, Oberon (Non-board members Clarence and Thelma)

Meeting called to order at 10:45 am

Opening of Meeting - Jeanie had been given the chair by Leah in her absence. She led with a blessing and then stated that she would have to leave by noon. She designated Leeanen to take Chair position when she had to leave.

Treasurer's Report:

Bruce reported that for this month our bank account is at $2332.16, Cash Box is $111.97, Gift-card is at $51.25. total assets are $2543.69

All statements were viewed by all the board members present and signed by Leeanen. Copies were provided to the Secretary Leeanen. 

Bruce expressed concern about his keeping the only copies of the bank statements and other records and suggested that copies be kept in an archive. Leeanen brought up that the Secretary is the one who should also be keeping copies in the Secretary's box. Bruce requested that Leeanen check for any copies of the Treasurers reports since he look over from Edward and also let him know if any copies are missing. Leeanen agreed to do so.

Bruce asked for the board's approval for reimbursement of $130.00 for himself and for Oberon for attending the Volunteer Center's class on Non Profit tax reporting requirements. He submitted a receipt for the board to review. A motion was made and a vote was taken. The motion carried to reimburse them for taking the class.

A motion made to accept the Treasurer's report seconded and voted as approved.


Allocation of SCPN funds for Board Member Education:

The topic for discussion was whether or not and if so how much of the SCPN funds should be allocated for board members to take classes and seminars to gain knowledge that might help in the running of the SCPN as a non-profit organization. 

Bruce made the suggestion that as general rule that no more than 5% of the SCPN's yearly income should be used for such a purpose, however, he believes that each case should be reviewed on a case by case basis. The benefits of taking the class should be taken into consideration. An example was made of the class he and Oberon just took. It cost more than 5% of our annual income but the knowledge gained was very valuable and it answered many questions we had been wondering about in years past as to what we can and cannot due with regards to fundraising. What they learned opens up a lot more options for us. It's clear the knowledge we have gained was well worth the cost. (Specifics are mentioned below.)

Jeanie agreed with Bruce's views but suggested that we table the matter until she could have more time to discuss it. Helen wanted to hear everyone else's opinion before we tabled the discussion. Leeanen agreed with Bruce's point of view but also suggested that if there was a class offered that was of fairly low enough cost and someone was willing to pay for it out of pocket to attend and then share the knowledge with the board than that could be considered a donation to the SCPN. Lilith agreed and it was suggested that perhaps the SCPN could pay only part of the cost of the class if it was more than the 5% and the person interested in taking the class could pay the rest. 

It was also suggested that a note book containing the notes and handouts from such classes be kept and saved so that all board members present and future could have access to the knowledge gained. It was agreed by all that would be a good idea. 

It was agreed that for now we should adopt a loose consensus that 5% of the yearly income can be spent but each class will be looked at in a case by case basis and that if possible partial reimbursement rather than full could be considered and agreed upon. 

Report from Bruce and Oberon about the Class: 

If we decided to book speakers who require a fee for speaking that we could charge for tickets if we want to. This could come in handy should we want to book speakers from the community who are of some note. Tickets sold for a speakers would be considered non-profit income. As long as we report our income to the IRS as non-profit income it is not taxable. The IRS would only be concerned about what we made from ticket sales if we pulled in two million dollars or over. Our only requirement is if we paid $600 six hundred dollars or more to the speaker and that would be for the speaker's tax purposes. If we decide to charge for tickets our members would get in for free. We cannot favor any one member, all members need to get the same benefits. Only non-members would pay and even then we could still implement our no one turned away for lack of funds or charge on a sliding scale. However, we have no obligation to anyone who is not an SCPN member.

Raffles and door prizes are considered gambling and that falls under a totally different category. It would be too complicated and troublesome to fill out the paperwork and figure that taxes on such activities so it would be best if we do not hold them to include the general public. Within the membership only it might be ok but it's best to be sure of what the rules are. It was agreed we will not do them at all until we know what the rules are for sure.

When we hold silent auctions we are supposed to pay and report the withholding sales tax on the items sold. The Franchise Tax Board wants their share of anything we sell. We need to keep records if we sell anything. We also need a business name/entity to report to the FTB.

Board members can be paid to sit on the board if we choose to do that. (Most likely this will not happen until and unless we end up bring in enough income to pay wages to the board.)

We can also require vendors to give us a percentage of their take if they sell wares at our events. Before we had been under the impression that we could only suggest that they donate a percentage of their sales. We do not have to worry about reporting sales tax, that is the responsibility of the vendor. 

(Note on vendor protocols: Lilith brought up that there could be trouble with liability if we allow vendors to sell homemade foods or even if we were to hold a bake sale for a fundraiser. It was agreed that it would be best not to allow vendors to sell homemade food items or to hold bake sales.)

Approval by the board for Oberon's response to a news paper article in the PD:

Oberon asked permission to post a response to an article written in the Press Democrat that describes the Christmas tree to be a Christian symbol. Oberon's response expresses that the Christmas tree is actually an adopted Pagan symbol for Yule. The main question was whether or not it would be alright for him to list his association with the SCPN when he signed his response. After reading the article and Oberon's response everyone agreed that it would be alright to include his association to the SCPN in his response.

Clarence suggested that the membership should be allowed to read the response and included in giving their ok before it's sent to the PD.

Oberon also expressed that he would like to make up a list of issues; political, social, civil, environmental etc. that expresses how Pagans in general feel or believe about such issues. He wants to create a general policy statement that we could hand out to people for the purpose of education.

Clarence expressed that the membership should be included in the decision of what is included in the list and should also be able to see it first before we start handing it out.

It was generally agreed that we would all like to see the policy statement and give our approval and also to include the membership input.

Yule Gathering Details:

The $10.00 cap for gifts bought for the gift exchange was agreed upon by everyone present.

Decor for the hall: The are the gold paper luminarias that Margaret donated in the cabinet. We may need to buy more battery operated tea lights. 

Others have offered to bring light strings, natural greenery to decorate the tables as well as pine cones and ornament balls. Clarence and Thelma offered to bring a small live tree to decorate and to put the gifts for the gift exchange under. Lilth offered to bring a box of plastic ornament balls to put on the tree (breakage of glass ones was a concern). We will have a box by the door with the ornaments for people coming in to pick up an ornament to go put on the tree.

For the PR leading up to the event we agreed that we must "talk up the charity drive" (Hellen suggested we find a better word than charity). We need to get people to donate items. 

We also agreed we must "talk up the feast" so that we have a variety of hardy items on the table and enough food to feed those who come.

We must notify those who are coming that the feast is part of the rite so please bring main dish foods to the table the will be set up in the center of the circle and do not place them on the side tables as usual. Hors d'oeuvres will be brought to the side tables for people to munch on until the ritual feast.

We agreed to compensate our presenters for the evening $25.00 for their travel expenses.

It was discussed that we should revisit the amount we give for travel compensation for future presenters. In the interest of time the matter was tabled for another meeting.

Scheduling Speakers for next year:

Lilith wanted board approval for the speakers that are willing to speak, she wanted to know when we wanted speakers and when we wanted meetings set aside for social gatherings so she would know when not to schedule a speaker. The board requires info on the speakers and what the presentation is before we give approval and Lilth agreed to get tat to us as soon as possible

She also said she would like to give a formal report to the board at the beginning of each board meeting.

Lilith wanted to be able to create fliers to put on the greeting table that give the info on what is scheduled at our gatherings up to 3 months ahead of time. It was agreed that would be a good idea to allow people 3 months notice what we plan to have on our calendar.

She informed us that Starhawk is willing to come and speak but that she wants $200 two hundred dollars upfront and a percentage of the ticket sales. Lilith also wants to be able to have at least 6 months advance notice so she can have time to advertise the event.

Due to time no formal decisions were made with regards to Starhawk. Item tabled until next meeting.

Meeting Adjourned: at 2:10 p.m.