Red Cedar Zen Community, 1021 N Forest, Bellingham Washington

Finance 2013-03-21

Finance Committee

21 March 2013

Present: John Wiley, Marti Bartlett, Talus Latona, Valerie Davenport

Guests Present: Membership Clerk Edie Norton

Guest Business from Membership Coordinator

Tax Receipts for Donations

Those who gave $250 or more at once received a thank you with tax receipt language by email from the membership coordinator.

This could be done upon receipt or at year end. On receipt makes sense for the Membership committee. Year end makes sense if done by the Finance committee. From bookkeeping point of view, we are thanking our donors at the time of receipt anyway, so more efficient to modify that thank-you then add a separate task. Also, that is integrated and recorded on the Red Cedar site. The difference is pledge versus pay; the immediate thank you is for the pledge, which is not always paid.

Why not send the tax language to everyone? Because small amounts we currently don't have the resources to send a thank you. The IRS doesn't require filers to have an official letter if there are checking and paypal records under $250 each. Cash needs a receipt as the record. If it were not a labor/finance cost, ideally maybe someday there will be an easy way at the end of the year to spit out an end-of-year letter for each person from Quickbooks.

At one time we communicated something like: 'There will be no record sent to people of their payments unless they were $250 or more at once. This is likely sufficient for IRS, talk to your accountant if you are unsure.'

Does it need to be hard copy? No, in this age email is accepted.

The income streams that the membership Coordinator needs to monitor are: WECU transfer, paypal transfer, and monthly checks.

The current process is that the Member Coordinator watches cash log, while paypal and WECU monthly statement come later.

Expediting the WECU Report

The online finance coordinator (John) will look into downloading statements from WECU to share with the Membership Coordinator.

Somes banks have a read-only access to the account available, which the Member Coordinator could access, but WECU does not have this option. Having the report emailed would be useful if that was an option.

Membership Record Keeping Simplification

If we couldn't technologiclally simplify the tracking, is there a method of payment that could be dropped? Such as the option to pay with paypal? The feeling is this would lose us donations.

Paypal, WECU, and Cash Log (many of which are not membership) all need to be monitored. This is theoretically also tracked against pledges, and people reminded if falling behind.

When the bookkeeper is caught up, this is all redundant because those sources are tracked by the bookkeeper too. We want to thank people in a timely manner, but it is volunteer. Electronically it is easy to thank quickly.

What if the bookkeeper volunteer or hired could put out a bi-weekly update?

If the finance clerk were able to log more quickly, then the whole process could turn more quickly too.

[See the new process proposed after the meeting, appended below after the minutes.]

Fund Drives

There are two fund drives, the friend/membership drive and the donation drive. Most of the friends are annual donors, so the work put into preparing for friend payments over the year isn't very effective.

The Membership Coordinator proposes to switch the timing of the membership drives so memberships start in January. The annual fund drive would then be in November December when people writing their end-of-year checks. The proposal includes eliminating the friend category as most of them are not paying monthly anyway.

How much money from the annual drive do we get? Not much, but certainly more than it costs. And some new methods could bring in more.

The finance committee doesn't see issues with this proposal and welcomes Board's response.

Agenda Items

Replacement of the Bookkeeper

We have not had a member volunteer to be bookkeeper emerge to replace our outgoing bookkeeper. It is time to look toward Retired Senior Volunteer Program. Marti will contact RSVP for an initial inquiry as to whether this is a good fit.

Debit Card

The initial proposal is to get debit cards so they can be used for payment where they are the only option for auto payment such as Crysal Springs water from Dharma Hall account and Red Cedar website fees from RCZC account.

The Finance Committee agrees to this.

This raises the question of using those debit cards for other purchases, such as retreat food shopping trips.

One issue is that the shopper must know the pin code. Another issue is accounting for all transactions on the card. This loosens internal control of the finances. Anyone with the card can pay large amounts out of account. The user would have to submit receipts. The risk, reduced security, keeping track of the cards, and additional labor to track down unrecorded debits don't seem to be worth the additional money access in a system which works now. There may come certain major purchases which really are easier with the card, or maybe online purchases.

Proposal is made is to only allow existing signers on the account to use the debit card. Agreed by full concensus.

John will order the cards and set up the codes.


Dave Lynch has greatly expanded his already substantial garden production capacity, with a proposal of bringing boxes of veggies to the Dharma Hall once a week where people could take them in exchange for a dontaion to Red Cedar.

What if people weren't picking it up and it went bad. Our understanding is that it would be only a window of time (e.g. an hour on Saturday mornings). Not sure if this was intended for income for Tim. If so, that's fine, and payments must go directly to Tim not through Red Cedar. Important that advertising clearly states who money is going to (Red Cedar Zen Community, Red Cedar Dharma Hall, Tim Burnett). Recommended donation amounts are suggested.

The finance committee are unaware of regulatory barriers to this idea. If this is a fundraiser it is probably not requiring sales tax, but food doesn't anyway.

Clerk Substitute

When the clerk is away, how can substitution be more formalized? This should be a member. Talus will approach Elizabeth about this possibility. Checking PO box, delivering mail here, checking RCDH lobby drop box, and making deposits to WECU and recording them.

The clerk description was detailed by Valerie, but has not yet been posted to the workgroups website. Talus will look for it.


Most of the data is collected. Remaining tasks are noted on the website.

A 501c3 meeting is scheduled for 5 to 6 PM April 11th. The objective of the meeting is to come up with a list of remaining tasks, who they are needed from, and by when.

Adjourned at 18:35

Addendum: Donation Tracking Process

Bookkeeper Marti proposed this process by email following the meeting. Initial response is positive, but we don't yet know if it is feasible for all people who would need to change the way they operate.

Paypal coordinator e-mails bookkeeper and Membership coordinator a report from PAYPAL and a report from WECU on a bi-weekly basis, 1st and 16th of month. The report would be for the previous 15 days. For example on April 1 send a report for March 16-31.
Bookkeeper updates QuickBooks for membership, donations reconciling with PAYPAL, WECU and cash log on a bi-weekly basis .
Bookkeeper sends QuickBooks membership & donations report to Membership coordinator on a bi-weekly basis. The 3rd and 17th of the month.
Clerk makes bi-weekly deposits 1st and 16th of month and sends e-mail to Membership coordinator and Bookkeeper to note that cash log has been updated.
Membership coordinator sends an official e-mail thank you that includes the 501(c)(3) information to folks as appropriate. For tax purpose this would include all individuals who give a one time donation that is $250 or more. The Membership coordinator would need to check PAYPAL and cash log only when she/he needed an address to send a thank you.
Membership coordinator can log into a g-mail account for easy access to Cash log on Google drive.
TAL: The process was later agreed to by all parties.

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