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Discussion: OUSA Finances

in: Orienteering; General

Oct 27, 2018 1:39 AM # 
Wondering what is happening with OUSA finances. It used to be that everything was posted monthly so people could see. There was also the aim to make all the finances transparent so all could understand what was going on. I guess there will a tentative budget coming out soon so that may clarify things but OUSA finances now seem to be a black hole.
Oct 27, 2018 7:10 AM # 
You know what I would like to see: when the club levies come in at the end of the year how much each club ends up paying.
This year our small club in Florida, Suncoast Orienteering, which struggles to keep enough members to be official will write a check to O-USA for somewhere in the neighborhood of $2500. I'd like to see how we stack up on a per member basis to other clubs in the federation.
Oct 27, 2018 7:32 AM # 
so all could understand what was going on

If everyone understood how accounting worked, I would be out of a job. Oh wait...
Oct 27, 2018 12:44 PM # 
Board meeting minutes for the past year offer some inkling as to our financial status.

Also, a financial report is included in the AGM minutes here >
Oct 27, 2018 6:27 PM # 
The Vice President of Finance's daughter is getting married today, and he has a baby shower for another daughter on Sunday. I expect he will have something to add, but not today.
Oct 27, 2018 8:40 PM # 
Gordhum you must have a lot of starts or a lot of USOF members to pay that much in dues. We pay less than $1000 and put on an event every month.
Oct 27, 2018 10:14 PM # 
Yes we have a lot of starts but this year only nine events. We encourage JROTC participation, make it a competitive experience for them right from the start- not just a gang walking around in the woods yelling out for each other - and it pays off with more and more coming back. Same goes for Florida Orienteering. Together the two small clubs will probably generate $4-5,000 for O-USA in return for insurance coverage. See the summer edition of Orienteering North America for an article on the success story that is Florida JROTC orienteering.
See Florida Orienteering and click on results to see how they take a big time approach to these JROTC events.
Oct 27, 2018 10:15 PM # 
(Gord posted while I was typing...)

Not USOF members, just members. There's a base charge per club, a charge per number of club members (USOF or not), and a charge per start.

I think SOAR gets a lot of starts. Your pricing structure should account for the annual costs (recharter fees) so that you take in at least as much as you (think you'll have to) pay out. Money to make new maps usually comes from the bigger events where you charge a bit more.

"Treasurer" is more correctly VP-Finance. Congrats on the wedding!
Oct 28, 2018 1:11 AM # 
Theres a base charge per club...

Really? I don't recall seeing it on rechartering forms.
Oct 28, 2018 1:45 AM # 
From: 2018 recharter form

"Orienteering USA bases club charter fees on 3 factors: 1) local event Starts, 2) flat recharter fee of $20, & 3) total primary club members.
Oct 28, 2018 7:08 AM # 
By the way I do not encourage people to join the club. If they do, they get lower entry fees AND we have to pay an annual levy for them to the federation. Where is the sense in that?
And it is still tough to get volunteer activity out of them.
However, if they join o-usa as a SOAR member they get our membership for free. That happens to be where our priority is.
Oct 28, 2018 1:02 PM # 
...Where is the sense in that?

You don't see any benefits from supporting a national, and indirectly, an international organization for our sport? I guess ultimately, that's the reason OUSA's Executive Director position didn't work out too well.
Oct 28, 2018 5:38 PM # 
Hi; I'm on the OUSA Board.

In 2017, our accounting system was an instance of Quickbooks managed by Robin Shannonhouse. Robin published monthly reports, which were posted to the website. These were informative, but the underlying issue was that the accounting system did not reflect how OUSA's finances were being used. In particular, the reporting did not accurately display undesignated, board designated, and restricted allocations. The system functioned, but it required an inordinate amount of behind-the-scenes work from Robin, from our VP finance Pat Meehan, from the various US team coordinators, and others. There were monthly phone calls to get different accounting systems to reconcile. The limitations of the accounting system were a major contributor to the OUSA financial crisis in 2015 and 2016, when the amount of restricted and board designated funds actually exceeded the amount of money in the bank. Another major limitation was that inquiries into the financial state of the organization or of any project within the organization (e.g. a US team) required lots of e-mails; there was no simple way to find out how much money was in any particular bucket without contacting Robin.

Starting in 2018, we elected to transition to Jitasa, a non-profit accounting and bookkeeping service. The expectations are that:
  1. Much less manpower will be spent on routine bookkeeping, freeing up time for actual orienteering programming
  2. An overview of OUSA finances will available to all pertinent parties through an online portal, making planning much easier
  3. Accounting will correctly reflect the financial state of the organization, again allowing the orchestrators of OUSA policy to focus on programs.

At present, as I'm sure Pat would communicate, the transition has been a bit bumpy. As discussed on the last Board call, the account manager from Jitasa who was working with OUSA left the company halfway through 2018. We hope to get to regular reporting soon, but it's been a bumpy road. We are discussing other options, including transitioning away from Jitasa.

OUSA state: at a very high level, the austere measures in 2017 have brought OUSA back into a stable financial state, with a reserve of about 25% of our annual board designated budget (~$60k in reserve). We are under budget for 2018, which is probably because many of the big projects for 2018 - junior development, website redesign, and major technology initiatives - are larger, multi-year projects and are taking a bit of time to start spending the allocated funds intelligently. I expect the Board's major efforts in the remainder of 2018 and 2019 will be on advancing our agenda in the three broad categories of junior development, technology infrastructure, and club support. This will be reflected in the 2019 budget, too.

We're not happy about the lack of reporting and transparency with our finances, either. Inquiries into OUSA activities are always welcome and encouraged. These are important questions to ask.
Oct 29, 2018 2:29 AM # 
chitownclark that comment about supporting the national and international federation is as insulting as it is a red herring.
I'm talking about a club's internal finances. We sell a local membership at a token price of $10 per individual $15 per family. Come to three events, get the reduced fee an they are ahead of the game and the club continues to 'lose' money on further events. Then on top of that we have to send a levy on their membership on top of the $1.50 we are already sending on each of their reduced entry fees.
Not to mention the O-USA double dipping by asking clubs to pay a levy on each O-USA member in the club who has already paid a fair chunk to O-USA with none of that coming to the club.
Do we support the national federation? You bet we do and as I said will probably send a check for somewhere near $2500 this year. How much will your club be sending?
Oct 29, 2018 10:26 AM # 
Well Gord, I certainly don't mean to post insults on a/p. Especially not toward you, whose contributions to our sport, in Canada, Florida, on a/p and elsewhere are well documented. I'm sorry that you took it that way.

But you see, down here in the States, we're having a little election in a week or so. And it is shaping up to be a referendum between 'Red state vs Blue state' politics....inward focus vs outward focus...strong government controls vs weak...nationalism vs internationalism.

And your rhetorical question...'where is the sense in that?' nicely echoed the crux of this decision. Obviously on a local level the answer is NO. No it doesn't make sense to induce newbies to join your club so they can pay less while the club must pay more to OUSA.

My comment was simply to question whether there weren't broader, higher ideals that needed to be considered and supported too...such as all the benefits we indirectly receive from OUSA and the IOF. You and I will probably not directly enjoy most of their programs...but shouldn't we be empathetic enough to appreciate that SOMEBODY WILL? And support those programs vocally and financially?

I don't really know why OUSA's Executive Director position was eliminated. My supposition is that he never received full approval and cooperation from local clubs or their members. They basically want to be left alone, to do their own thing, find their own way...with no outside help.

For example, during the ten years I was a club officer here in Chicago, I very much supported OUSA and their programs and requests, in contrast to most other club members. I personally directed four or five national 'Bramble Ramble' A-meets on our thorny maps...I think you came to one. It was a lot of work, because many club members saw no reason to jump through all those OUSA hoops to get sanctioned...and then have to pay $25 per day for that weekend, when they normally ran on the same map for $5.

This whole dichotomy or conflict of objectives festered for several years. There was one year when we didn't send OUSA an accounting or any of our required dues at all. Zero. I couldn't get a check approved. And since I was afraid that our OUSA insurance was cancelled as a result, began suggesting that we cancel scheduled local events. Eventually I resigned. And the club hasn't presented an A-meet in over twelve years.

So Gord I know there's a lot of strong feelings about this issue. I've always admired the work you've done to further our sport. I'm sure you and I agree on most issues, far more than we'd disagree. And I'm sorry I made you feel insulted by my clumsy riposte.
Oct 29, 2018 10:45 AM # 
Thanks for the explanation Clark. I figuratively took a pill and am calmer now. We're on the same page.
In orienteering most of us are people who just love to go run in the woods. We are not marketers. We are navigators, runners, adventurers, problem solvers but we are not marketers. Other sports such as triathlons and adventure races and mud runs have people whose primary task is to stage events and to make money from the events. Even when they are non-profits they expel their potential profit by paying good salaries or honoraria.
That is not to say we are all hopeless at marketing. I only know a little bit about them but I'd say the folks in Hamilton Ontario are doing great jobs marketing their programs to the parents of youth and to the AR crowd.
Oct 29, 2018 11:02 AM # 
While we are on the subject what about those higher than normal fees for locals to attend 'national' events on local maps?
That is a serious issue for probably every club and other sports, too. I remember being at the World Masters Games in Portland and pretty well all the local triathletes were giving the triathlon a pass because they were being told to pay three times the normal entry fee to race on the same old course they use several times a year.
An orienteering example: Yukon is reputed to have an active junior orienteering program but virtually no juniors from the Yukon participated in the NAOC or COC. What a shame but their loss is Nova Scotia's gain as one of their young participants was recently named the province's athlete of the month. But I digress.
The O-USA policy of one freebie national event per club per year is a great program. I hope we in Florida can take advantage of it soon. There are other expenses associated with holding a national event, not he least of which around here is opening yourself up to national level criticism - once burned; twice shy - and the controller/ event advisor expense.
I think clubs should find a way to make the net entry fee for locals little more than it is for a normal local event. They could do that by reducing the fee for locals/ club members who put their names in to a volunteer pool for the event or something similar. When a national event entry may be $25/day keep in mind that a local entry at $10/day is better than no local entry at $0/day.
Oct 29, 2018 2:53 PM # 
Your membership model may work well for you, or it might be something you want to reexamine. I know of a club that offers free meet entry to all members, and another that does not have a reduced fee for club members, pretty opposite approaches. And another that doesn't have any fee for club membership, with the "member" base rather vaguely defined.
Oct 29, 2018 3:55 PM # 
In Florida orienteering is an extreme, dangerous sport, with lots of poisonous snakes, carnivorous plants, alligators, orienteers collapsing from dehydration all the time.
Insurance premiums should be much higher for them, reflecting the risks.

In general this thread is about how to keep the wolves fed and the sheep safe
Oct 29, 2018 6:58 PM # 
gordhun - wondering about this: "if they join o-usa as a SOAR member they get our membership for free."

So for those people, they are paying OUSA for a membership, your club is not getting any financial benefit. But then you are counting them as a club member, giving them discounts, and also paying an additional fee for them at recharter time. Is this correct?
Oct 29, 2018 11:07 PM # 
You may think Yurets knows nothing about what he writes. As he has been orienteering in Florida and seen for himself that the greatest danger are the buds from caesar weeds aka 'hitchhikers' I can only assume that he is pulling your leg.

smittyo that is a good question and it does seem like a contradiction but SOAR's greatest need connected to membership is to keep enough O-USA members registered with SOAR so that we can keep our club status. It is not something that most clubs have to worry about. But you are correct the re-charter double dipping by O-USA does irk. However while we are a small club we are not about to go broke. We will have three more events with an expected 400 total entries between now and the end of the year. Florida Orienteering will have two events with a similar 400 entries expected. That's an estimated extra $1200 for O-USA. Florida is the state that keeps on giving to O-USA! Willingly giving (usually).
Oct 30, 2018 12:17 AM # 
How many members do you need for club status? Last I knew, it wasn't very many.
Oct 30, 2018 12:34 AM # 
In my position as president of OUSA before Kris took over, I have quite a bit of background information as to how the finances were dealt with. I take issue with Ian's commentary on the finances and the transition to Jitasa.
First, while the information that Robin produced did not have all the background information, it was informative as to how money was spent. With a change in the dues structure, the finances of OUSA had turned positive. While there were dedicated funds, these were never spent and there was never a real issue with OUSA going into default. While Robin's data did not expressly talk about this, reading the data closely kept the cash flow clear. Yes, we were having issues but with the changes in the dues structure, finances were turning the corner, even with an executive director. If you look at the historic cash flow, this was evident although no one seemed to care at the time. Without an executive director, the amount of money that OUSA has to spend has increased dramatically and should be reflected in the new budget. At the same time, there seems to be concern that all dedicated funds are spend at the same moment so there needs to be a buffer that is larger than needed.
With regard to Jitasa and how things were supposed to be made easy, it never happened as planned. While I was still on the Board, I was concerned with Pat not having any hair left as the issues associated with this particular accounting business seemed to drive him crazy. Oh, and then the guy who Pat was working with (and had finally figured out what OUSA needed) left and Pat had to start retraining a new person. Pat should be wearing a halo. What seemed to be a simple solution was not and if there are still not "reliable" reports that can be given to the membership, Jitasa has become a real problem. Perhaps, they should be fired but that will then require a huge amount of time to retrain a new group (and that will be done by volunteers and most likely Pat. Should he get a second halo?)
With regard to the teams not knowing how much money they had to spend, there was a "Team Funds Report" that kept teams informed of their amount to spend and how much money came into their "fund" on a monthly basis. I started this report and kept it up to date for six years after there had been an IRS requirement of change in accounting. We could not have "funds" when we reported to the IRS but the Excel spreadsheet kept track of what could be spent by each team. It was not perfect and had some issues that required corrections but it was generally accurate after the "issues" were corrected.The Excel spreadsheet was kept up to date by importing data from the reports provided by Robin. Sometimes, income or expense was not coded properly so these issues had to be corrected. This report was taken over by someone who did not follow through on the updating and it, therefore, stopped being accurate or available for a period of time.
Oct 30, 2018 12:48 AM # 
Regular Club 8 or more members
Associate Club fewer than 8 members
Oct 30, 2018 8:38 AM # 
If it's any consolation, here in the UK we are having very similar debates about how much money should be raised for BOF (=OUSA), via what means, and how the money should be spent. I'm guessing that most O federations in the world, with the exception of the rich ones, are having the same discussions.

The accounting software issues seem slightly odd to me though - are there that many entries going in and out that you need to "train" a support person, as opposed to just using an off the shelf product? But I might just be naive.
Nov 1, 2018 2:14 AM # 
Well, as I hope you can see Suncoast Orienteering has taken heart from these discussions and bitten the bullet. (Scroll down a bit to find the post) We have done away with club memberships and therefore club members pricing at events. Now one price for all, including visiting orienteers. That is unless you buy a new season pass in which case there will be no further fees to pay all season. This is a great idea I have copied from the forward thinking Ottawa OC who have now run a wildly popular season pass idea for three seasons. Thinking of coming to an event in Florida? Buy the Suncoast Orienteering pass just to avoid the registration line up. (or just to support orienteering in this part of Florida)
Nov 1, 2018 10:54 PM # 
@ gordhun

Yurets knows nothing about what he writes

I forgot my favorite -- giant banana spiders. One can faint just seeing it, ...but then you realize a dozen of them already crawl on you
Nov 1, 2018 11:59 PM # 
Groveland, FL, December 2013:
Nov 2, 2018 1:02 AM # 
They are large and with their Princeton U colors they are not pleasant to look at but they are harmless and the fact they are so large and like to set their webs at eye height they are easy to see.
Nov 2, 2018 10:23 PM # 
That is not a selling point for Florida orienteering.

Having said that, I've orienteered there at two A meets and don't recall ever seeing one of those beasts. Thank goodness.
Nov 2, 2018 11:51 PM # 
I've seen some huge ones in Taiwan, maybe related... as a matter of fact, I had one running down from chest over pants when I ran into a spider web because I was leaping away from a snake that scurried away while I was setting controls early morning. Luckily I knew they are supposedly harmless or I would have really freaked out... I think huge bugs are one reason my oldest son no longer orienteers :( and he was as good as his brothers at it
Dec 9, 2018 5:18 PM # 
Man, did I ever underestimate how many starts we would get in our three events through November and December.
Suncoast Orienteering will be writing a check for $4060.50 to Orienteering USA for nine events through 2018. That is about 1/3 of our gross event revenues.
How does that compare to your club?

This discussion thread is closed.