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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: What initiative!

in: iansmith; iansmith > 2016-09-20

Sep 21, 2016 2:54 AM # 
Excellent, Ian, I heartily salute this initiative of yours!

I will also mention that I appreciated the various analyses you did and published here prior to the AGM.
Sep 21, 2016 7:57 PM # 
Thanks, Swampfox. I have access to more data now that I'm on the Board, so I should be able to more accurately characterize what the situation is.

What can OUSA do for you?
Sep 21, 2016 10:11 PM # 
Ian, I would just ( *just* - ha!, as if it was as easy as snapping my fingers!) like to see the sport start growing stronger in the US again, instead of weakening, as it seems it has been for some years now. There are many ways someone could measure that. My method of measurement is rough, but very simple: depth of field in M21 and F21 at a few selected events each year (Team Trials, Classic Champs, etc.) We're at a point now where a good many events have almost no meaningful competition to speak of.
Sep 21, 2016 11:24 PM # 
However look at the M21 and F21 fields for NAOC this weekend. I was just browsing the list today and found myself being surprised at how competitive those look.

I have access to more data now that I'm on the Board

I'm not sure what to make of that. There's data that only the BOD can view?
Sep 22, 2016 12:29 AM # 
Yeah, that's a good question, fossil. In general, people (e.g. Robin Shannonhouse) were very receptive to my requests for information before I was on the board. I think that while much of this documentation is technically publicly available, the method for access is e-mailing the right people. I've mined the financial reports, but as Pat Meehan remarked in his VP Finance report from the Board meeting, these aren't as functionally transparent as could be hoped.

One of my main priorities will be financial transparency for OUSA by
1) Making raw finance documents available as much as possible and
2) Generating reports to explain and break down what we as a federation are doing
Sep 22, 2016 1:34 AM # 
+1 swampfox

@iansmith -- don't sacrifice effectiveness on the alter of transparency. The Federal Register is great, but it doesn't contain the annals of innovation (jtorranc, as he is wont to do, will probably excoriate me for such a scurrilous assertion, but I stand by it.)
Sep 22, 2016 3:01 AM # 
@j-man On the contrary - I think transparency will only improve our effectiveness. We cannot move forward effectively until we understand what we are currently doing, why we are doing it, and what each action achieves. Communicating that understanding is ancillary to discovering it in the first place.
Sep 22, 2016 3:13 AM # 
I wouldn't confuse dumping raw data with good transparency. What I would like to see as more transparency in the financials is better analysis and reporting from the finance committee. I think it is important to have insight into what things are, and why decisions are being made rather than just a huge pile of data to sort though. Of course it is then up to the consumer to decide if that the provided "official" analysis is deceiving.
The published financial documents don't really give the unskilled financial consumer much info on what is going on in OUSA. I think at least an annual report should be produced that has analysis of the previous years budget - success, and failure, and what the outlook for the next year, or longer, is. That way we can determine if the proper long term and short term planning is being done, and if we are meeting our targets for spending and revenue.
Sep 22, 2016 3:31 AM # 
Certainly agreed with edwarddes. I am now on the finance committee, and I intend to produce concise but meaningful reports both for board consumption (to inform decisions) and for the OUSA membership to understand our programs and their efficacy. That said, data dumps - to the extent that they are feasible, are an important part of reproducibility, even if only a scant few people care to examine them.

A point I'd like to emphasize is that evidence points to an unsustainable deficit spend over the past few years, and the Board must take substantial measures now to balance the budget. The data also suggests that many quantifiable measures of orienteering in the US - membership, starts, activity - are declining. I maintain that it is possible to both balance our budget and execute initiatives from the federation level to grow the sport, but this will require (probably dramatic) reprioritization.

In its most extreme form, one could imagine the "minimal" OUSA where only the necessary programs are continued and all other spending is reduced. The necessary programs include insurance, accounting and other legal requirements, and probably communications like ONA and newsletters. This minimum functional OUSA would probably cost less than 1/3 of our current budget, and taxes on the clubs could be drastically reduced. A premise here is that clubs could more effectively use their funds. I don't think this is the best approach.

Our current OUSA, as I see it, has unsustainably high spending. The part of the spending we control is unrestricted - the restricted spending amounts to contributions from people to a specific cause, which doesn't really require OUSA's involvement. An obvious example is my donation to the US senior team. From my preliminary analysis (which is unofficial), our average unrestricted annual spend is $240k. Most of this (96.1% from 2011-2015) fits into three accounting categories: Program Services (62%), Management (23%), and Fundraising (11%) (Table 4).

Of that $240k, the breakdown is:
Insurance (necessary), 14%
ONA (necessary), 7%
Programs for members and clubs (details unknown) 6.4%
Accounting, 9%
Junior Team coach, ~20%
ED, ~44%?

I haven't broken down the payroll numbers yet, so I'm not entirely sure what the breakdown is.

I think we have increased funding about as much as is feasible right now. Hopefully our grant and sponsorship efforts will be more effective in the future, but that's unlikely to happen in the next year or two. So, we need to maximize the effectiveness of OUSA with a sustainable level of spending between the minimal OUSA and the current version.
Sep 23, 2016 1:07 AM # 
What level of OUSA unrestricted spending is sustainable (with current fee levels, number of starts, clubs and members, assuming we manage to stabilize those numbers)?

If fundraising consumes 11% of our unrestricted funds, in order to attract mostly restricted donations, should that cost be borne (at least in part) by the funds that benefit? Fundraising costs are a normal part of charities and non profits that seek donations. Is there a cheaper way to fundraise effectively?

Let me add my thanks for providing this info. And congrats on your election.

This discussion thread is closed.