Paid positions at climber's coalitions

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tradisrad85

Trad climber
Phoenix, AZ
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 13, 2017 - 06:23pm PT
Our local climbing org CASA - climbing association of southern Arizona just posted a paid part- time position at $20,000 - $35,000. I'm concerned as their reported revenue for 2016 was $39,000 with expenses of $29,000. Their minutes give a high estimate of $42,000 for the position. If all their money is going to pay someone, where does that leave advocacy and conservancy efforts? As far as I know a majority of their revenue comes from community donations, but there is no opportunity for input from the community as their board meetings are closed. Does anyone have experience with paid climber's coalition positions? Link to the job posting https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8UQVPt37wKsNEJqc3VKS3N5Z1E/view
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Social climber
Wilds of New Mexico
Sep 13, 2017 - 07:19pm PT
Seems like a human has to do the advocacy. Probably best to have someone totally focused on it. Obviously if you don't like it then don't pay to be part of the org.
tradisrad85

Trad climber
Phoenix, AZ
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 13, 2017 - 07:36pm PT
The problem is one of transparency. Of all the money that has been donated to organization, it has never been disclosed that it was earmarked to pay someone's salary until now. As far as I know there are no other climbers' coalitions with paid positions and I still see lots of advocacy being done.
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Sep 13, 2017 - 08:39pm PT
Get in there and find out. Your math is worth looking into.

Those making the decision may consider that a full time person would increase income greater than the salary. The right person could perhaps bump the income up into the $100k per year range.

Someone would need to take a look at the market. For example, try to find out how many ropes were sold in the target area during the last 2 years. About 10% of that number might make a donation of $25. What does that add up to.

Find out what the business plan is. If it sounds good, volunteer.
Splater

climber
Grey Matter
Sep 13, 2017 - 10:57pm PT
It may well be that the organization has money but not enough volunteers to do all the work required for an active 501c3.
frostback

Social climber
great white north
Sep 14, 2017 - 06:19am PT
My father in law was the exec director of the Vancouver Foundation, a Connecticut yankee to the bone, his view was that if overhead was more than 2% of disbursements there had better be some good reasons.
Splater

climber
Grey Matter
Sep 14, 2017 - 12:11pm PT
A foundation is completely different than a climber coalition.
A well run foundation takes in money, and hands almost all of it out as grants.
Some climber coalitions buy land or easements, but most don't hand out many grants. They spend most of the revenue themselves on trails, parking, crags, lawyers, education, outreach, graffiti cleanups, dumping/landfills, rescue etc.
tradisrad85

Trad climber
Phoenix, AZ
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 14, 2017 - 02:42pm PT
What Splater said. Most of the coalitions I've interacted with around the country spend most of their funds on maintaining and preserving climbing areas through the activities Splater laid out. I'm pretty sure the Access Fund still has a long way to go in recouping the funds they used to secure access to the Homestead. I would much rather see $40,000 go to that than to a position I believe would adequately be filled with a volunteer.
another nickname

Social climber
Yazoo Ms
Sep 14, 2017 - 04:19pm PT
I've no serious opinion and no information. Their "annual reports" seem pretty transparent.

Is very odd that their Form 990 returns aren't listed here
https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/

One assumes the job's most important aspect would entail successfully schmoozing with rich people, getting them to really like you (or getting them to want YOU to really like them through the power of your highly desirable self) and then.... "the money shot."

At least as much money as you're "earning" and preferably much much more......

Perhaps y'all could just have a magazine-subscription sales drive...... A unit of Readers Digest was quite successful farming out this stuff to Boy Scouts & etc.. and then skimming off a nice little profit.

But I suppose "print is dead."

Maybe you could merge with the American Alpine Club.......


On second thought.... maybe the whole thing is a good idea.... It all depends.....probably will be all screwed up right from the start...
frostback

Social climber
great white north
Sep 14, 2017 - 04:21pm PT
dudes,
To clarify, a foundation hands out grants to not for profit or charitable organizations who do variations on the type of work noted for CASA. The point that I was attempting to make is that the level of overhead, if accurate, that you have noted seems way out of line. Suggest they reference the excellent training tools that Patagonia has for helping organizations just like this be realistic about what they can spend. Failing that I am sure the Access Fund, or whatever they are called now can help.
MH can likely chime in at a high level.
Then again this might be a nice bit of trolling prompting earnest folks like myself to respond.
tradisrad85

Trad climber
Phoenix, AZ
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 14, 2017 - 05:19pm PT
Not trying to troll, just seriously concerned with the disbursement of the funds CASA has been able to raise under the guise of climbers' advocacy. The overhead numbers I cited are from their annual report. The formation of CASA caused a serious rift in the Tucson climbing community which is a story for another time. I have a sneaking suspicion that getting paid for his "advocacy" was the current director's, Eric Sophia, plan from the start. I have had multiple people complain about difficulties working with him, but "he is the only one willing to fill the position."
frostback

Social climber
great white north
Sep 14, 2017 - 05:49pm PT
Governance, man, its all about the governance.
tradisrad85

Trad climber
Phoenix, AZ
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 16, 2017 - 01:41pm PT
Just to be clear, I am not necessarily against a paid position. CASA now claims to have raised $100,000 for 2017. The problem I have is with the lack of accountability and oversight. CASA was formed when Eric Sophia, the current director, mistakenly included The Dry, a local sport crag, in a wilderness proposal. He tried to cover up his mistake and quit SACC, another local climbers' coalition, when he got called out for it. CASA's board is very insular and does not accept input from the community in any form other than donations, yet claims to represent the Tucson climbing community as a whole.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Sep 16, 2017 - 04:47pm PT
Credit: Jon Beck
another nickname

Social climber
Yazoo Ms
Sep 17, 2017 - 03:57pm PT
Is a fair bit of money.... Good for them I guess....Doubtless that egos & stupidity always play a big role in institutions large and small.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Outside the Asylum
Sep 18, 2017 - 09:01pm PT
I have no comment on Arizona, climbing in Arizona, climbers' politics in Arizona, and related subjects. Except that I'm sure that there are climbers' access issues in Arizona, and that somehow climbers need to be reasonably organized, united and resourced so as to address them.

Frosty mentioned a figure of 2% overhead. That would mostly likely be for community foundations, which are a rare type of charitable organization. For 'average' charities, which themselves carry on activities and programs, overhead and administration should normally be in the range of 20 - 30% annual budget. Most climbers' organizations would probably be considered average - budget between $20K and $20M, no large endowments or capital funds, having real members, etc.

A normal operating charity that claims its administrative, fundraising, and overhead expenses are much less than 20% is probably not telling the whole story. Often they're classifying expenses as program/activity-related when they're administrative. In some cases because volunteers have to make substantial donations for which they're not reimbursed, often things like travel and accommodation, or perhaps services. The latter can on paper reduce overhead, but it's simply absorbed in other ways.

In other words, accounting games.

A professional audit, or at least review engagement, is usually a good sign. That is, one by an independent CPA. Comparative financial statements also help, even if unaudited - although charities may quite reasonably need to 'save up' for a major capital expense. And the cost to a charity for a professional audit can be significant.

With regard to compensation, if you want monkees, pay peanuts. You more or less get what you pay for.

Sure, there are self-serving, ineffective, bloated bureaucracies, but they're not common. Way too many watch dogs.

In Canada, you can always check the Charities Directorate's website, which has considerable financial and other information about all of our 90,000 registered charities. Charity Intelligence Canada is also worth a look.

In the USA, Charity Navigator is recognized as a good source. Not sure what the IRS has.

If you want a charity that truly has minimal overhead, try the Franciscans, or the Poor Clares.

The continued commercialization of climbing is an ongoing concern. That said, the industry has stepped up in terms of supporting our organizations. The alternative being the following:
Credit: Mighty Hiker
frostback

Social climber
great white north
Sep 18, 2017 - 09:11pm PT
PJ O'Rourke lives!
tradisrad85

Trad climber
Phoenix, AZ
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 21, 2017 - 10:47am PT
If anyone is interested the application deadline is tomorrow.
stevep

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Sep 21, 2017 - 11:27am PT
AFAIK the Exec Director position for the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance is a paid position. No idea what the salary is, as I'm not too involved anymore. But the SLCA is large and very active, and I think a decently paid position is very well worth it.
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