Red Cedar Zen Community, 1021 N Forest, Bellingham Washington

April 2012 Board Minutes

Red Cedar Zen Board of Directors                         Meeting - April 4, 2012           

Board Minutes

The April meeting of the RCZC Board of Directors was called to order by President Jeff McKenna at 5:15 pm.

PRESENT: Jeff, Talus, Joan, Edie.  EXCUSED: Tim


encouraging words

full value contract

We commit:

  • to maintaining physical, psychological, and emotional safety
  • to working together to foster both group and individual goals; giving the group what it needs and individuals what they need.
  • to speaking and listening fearlessly to one another and fully talking things through.

review agenda and set time limits

Our Guest's Business

1. Job Rotation and Delegation. The Board asked Kate to tell us about her needs with Membership tasks.  This function, which is ongoing and multi-layered, is in need of more volunteer workers.  Kate has broken down the function into four basic areas: member record keeping and accounting, communication with members, annual membership drive management, and annual development and mailing of the membership directory. Her plan is to write up the procedures for each of these areas and recruit a different individual to take responsibility for each area, thereby distributing the work more equitably. The board fully supports her in this delegation effort.

The board also discussed in some detail the role of membership record keeping and payment of membership pledges, a sensitive job that Kate would like to delegate but has been uncertain about involving more than herself due to the issue of confidentiality (it involves contacting members whose pledge payments have lapsed for some period of time).  We discussed the possible solution of having one person track the new memberships as they come in, share that data with another person, who would follow up on pledge payments and communicate with members as necessary. The board encouraged Kate to break down all the Membership jobs into manageable chunks and recruit whatever number of helpers she needs, requesting that volunteers honor confidentiality as needed.

2. Sangha Volunteer Opportunities. In further regard to delegation of volunteer tasks, the board discussed that it is time to review all the functions that we support-finance, building maintenance, programs, outreach, membership, practice roles, etc.-to evaluate the need and/or readiness of volunteers to move into or out of specific responsibilities.  Because we continue to grow in our programs and practice, there are opportunities for people to grow into new roles. It is important that we identify newer people to assume established roles so that they, themselves, can grow, and so that the original volunteers can move on to new sangha challenges.  We are happy to note that this is happening gradually, with some of our newer members assuming new responsibilities, thus freeing longer-term members to take on areas new to them. We are excited and gratified that this rotation is happening and want to continue to encourage it further.  And in point of fact, we need to be thinking about board member tenure and rotation, and the board will do so.

A New Board Commitment. The board also decided to communicate to all the membership that we are making a concerted effort to break our organizational tasks down into manageable chunks and to recruit from among our members individuals to take on pieces of larger jobs or roles.  This way more people can be involved, and the workload will be lighter for everyone. We want members to know that we might be coming to them with a request for their help and participation because there are jobs that need to be done.  But we also don't want anyone to feel pressured into taking a job or task they don't want or don't have time to do. We want an honest negotiation about any and all volunteer commitments.  So we ask that everyone be open to our invitations to volunteer but also realistic and honest about what will work for you for the present. Saying No is okay with us.  We hope that our Asking Again Later is okay with you!

The board's aims in volunteer leadership are 1) to see to it that all the tasks needed to keep our organization running smoothly get done, and 2) to creatively distribute the tasks across all our membership according to everyone's interests, ability, and availability, so that we all can benefit from participating in sustaining our sangha.

Old Business

1. Shopping.  Joan asked for confirmation that she continue being the shopper for the needed non-food items for the center. The board requested that she continue to do this job on a permanent basis, leaving to Toi the retreat food buying aspect of the shopping role.  Joan will take periodic inventory of the maintenance needs and make the necessary non-food purchases. Talus will provide her with a check list (to be attached to the current clipboard "needs list" in the kitchen).  We are grateful to Joan for continuing in this much needed role.

2. Finance Committee. Talus reported that although the financial quarter ended at the end of March, by the board meeting on the first Wednesday of the month, the bookkeeper never has had time to total up the income/expense numbers.  The plan going forward is for her to email the board quarter-end numbers by the 15th of the month following quarter end. The board is happy with this arrangement and will discuss the quarterly budget at the board meeting the next month.

Talus also reported that the 501(c)3 committee continues to meet once a month to prepare our application for federal non-profit status (independent from the old Dharma Hall non-profit status which we currently have).  The goal is to have completed the application by the end of August.

The committee is paying particularly close attention to seeing to it that all requirements are met regarding the relationship between RCZC and Tim's new non-profit organization so that there is clear financial separation and transparency between the management and programs of both entities.

3. Garden Fundraiser.  Jeff noted that there will be another massage therapy fund raiser April 7 and 8 in the zendo, the money going to expenses incurred for the Sanctuary Garden. He didn't have specifics on the income and expenses for the garden, but this project is separate from the RCZC budget and being funded entirely through donations.

4. Annual Fund Letter.  The new annual fund letter is ready to go to the printer.  The board reviewed the printing cost estimate (for the letter printed on both sides, the calligraphy card printed on both sides, the return envelop, and the mailing envelop).  With the postage required, the project will cost $650, which is $200 over what the board originally had budgeted. After some discussion, the board agreed to approve the project, given that this is the first time we have done this campaign so we have had no previous budget as a model, and in the belief that donations will at a minimum recoup our expenses.

The plan is to assemble the printed letter for mailing at our next Sangha Work Day, which is April 21. We hope a crew of members will join us in the downstairs workroom at 9:00 am that Saturday to enjoy each others' company while getting the job done.

Donor Thank-you Notes.  Associated with this project is the need to develop a thank-you note to send to donors.  Talus advised that for any contribution over $250 we must include the official tax deduction language advising the donor to save the thank you note in their records for tax purposes.  The annual fund committee will develop a thank you note for the board to review at a future meeting.  This will also be another budget item to add to the total cost of the Annual Fund drive. Ediewill move forward to plan and budget the thank-you's.

New Business

1. Membership Data.  Kate reported that this past quarter Membership income was $3,050.00, up from $2607.00 last year in the same quarter.  We now have 78 members and friends (57 members).

2. Sesshin. The one-day sesshin is coming up on May 5, from 6 am to 9 pm; oryoki breakfast and lunch; supper on our own. Marti will be Ino.

3. City Library Display. Elizabeth Caldarelli designed and with Joan's assistance, installed our display at the downtown library.  It is on the first floor and will be there through April.  Be sure to take a look.

4. Prompt Responses to Email and Voice Messages.  Joan checks voice and email messages and has found that fairly often there are subsequent messages from people who had called or emailed earlier, asking again for replies to their questions.  She was concerned that RCZC is not being adequately responsive to callers/emailers. The board discussed this as a possible public relations problem and recommended that all volunteers whose roles require that they respond to public inquiries make a commitment to doing so within 4 days.  Board members who support functions with this responsibility will follow up with those volunteers to ensure that we are appropriately responsive to the messages RCZC receives.

5. Financial Transparency as RCZC Grows and Mindfulness Northwest is Established.  The board discussed the need, both legal and organizational, for us to address and clearly define the roles of the RCZC board and its members as distinct from the newly forming Mindfulness Northwest organization and board. Specifically this clarification will be necessary regarding Tim's role in both organizations-his dual role in RCZC as both spiritual director and board member, and his role(s) in Mindfulness Northwest. It will be important to make fully transparent Tim's responsibilities and authority with regard to financial decisions and activities within RCZC so that legally there is no appearance of financial gain on his (or any other board member's) part from RCZC financial decisions due to his association with his new non-profit. 

As Talus and the 501(c) 3 committee are currently studying the federal requirements for establishing our own non-profit status, he will advise the board on steps we need to take in order to ensure transparency and to clarify board roles, especially with regard to Tim's role.  The board members agreed also to start thinking of what issues and questions should be addressed with regard to our organizational form as a board and the procedures we use. To that end we will each review our RCZC Bylaws for continuing discussion at the next several board meetings.  We agreed that our form and operations have gone quite smoothly up to now, but because RCZC is growing and because Tim is forming a new organization for which he will also have management responsibility, it's important and timely that we review our operations and prepare to make changes if needed.

6. Tenzo Budget.  Edie observed that as Tenzo she spent a fair amount of money in February and March for kitchen equipment and then for the March 3-day sesshin.  Although she believes that she stayed within budget on the kitchen equipment, she does not know the total food expense for the March sesshin nor how it balanced out with the income from registration.  For future Tenzo budget planning she would like to have an income/expense report on the March sesshin. Talus said that Finance can provide this report.

meeting reflection

on relationships, process, values and mission

of good value


upholding the contract

sangha on the horizon

The meeting was adjourned at 6:35 pm.  NEXT MEETING: May 2, 2012, 5:15 pm.  Visitors welcome.


Edie Norton

Board Secretary

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