Purchase Vote Procedure
THIS PAGE IS A DRAFT STARTED BY KEVIN TO DOCUMENT OUR CURRENTLY USED, BUT UNDOCUMENTED, PROCESS - IT IS NOT OFFICIAL UNTIL AGREED UPON EITHER BY THE BOARD/OFFICERS OR VIA A MEMBER VOTE.
Purchase votes are how we, as an organization, agree to spend money that isn't otherwise budgeted. Any member may put up a vote to buy equipment or materials for the organization following these procedures. All current members may vote Yes, No, or Abstain on any posted purchase vote. This procedure outlines the process for developing, posting, and executing a member vote. This same procedure may be used to resolve other proposals, such as (but not limited to) changes to floor space utilization between different activities/areas/machines.
The general process for developing, posting, and deciding a vote has three stages:
- Discussion - where the vote is posted as a concept open for discussion and input from other members
- Voting - The proposal is posted in it's final form for members to vote on
- Implementation - if the vote passed, the equipment is purchased and placed into service (or the relevant changes to the space implemented)
Phase 1 - Discussion
Members are strongly encouraged (though not required) to allow at least one week of open discussion of a proposal prior to posting it for vote. This time allows for all interested members to be made aware that a vote is coming, to research the proposal themselves, and offer suggestions of changes which may improve the final proposal to better suit the priorities of Hive13 as a whole. This period of discussion also ensures that all aspects of a purchase or change are considered fully prior to locking the proposal down to a yes/no vote.
All vote proposals and discussions should cover the following considerations:
- What level of Quality are the Equipment/Tools? will it hold up to all our members using it? When in doubt, err toward professional quality tools over hobby tools for Hive13's purchase, things at the hive get used harder than people's home shops. Listen to member's suggestions for possible alternates, often some of our members have personal experience with different makes/models and can help ensure the items purchased are of the quality the hive needs without wasting money.
- Are all accessories and consumables required to use the equipment included in the vote? Equipment that requires members to buy/obtain obscure accessories or consumables creates a barrier to usage that leads to tools not being used, what should we keep in stock to eliminate that barrier?
- How much will the tool/equipment be used? How many members will benefit from us having it? It is ok to propose a vote for equipment that only a subset of members have interest in. However, if there is only a one member or a small handful of members who are interested in an item/activity, it may make more sense for that member to buy the equipment themselves and bring it in on loan to Hive13 or to organize an Equipment Group Purchase Donation.
- Will the new equipment increase the appeal of the hive to new members?
- How much reoccurring cost will the equipment require to operate, maintain, and stock the necessary consumables?
- How much maintenance will the equipment require? Who will perform that maintenance?
- How much space will the equipment require for use and storage when not in use? Will it take away space from another activity?
- Does the purchase fit Hive13's current financial situation? Are there other priorities that will be delayed by setting aside funds for this purchase?
- What safety equipment, precautions, and procedures will be necessary to safely house and use this equipment at Hive13? Will ventilation be required? Dust collection? Fire Safety equipment? Noise isolation? Personal Protective Equipment?
- Will the equipment require certification? If so, who will teach certification classes?
- How much will shipping/delivery cost? Any other fees (import taxes, etc.)?
As agreement is reached in the discussion, it is a good idea to compile the agreed upon options for equipment/accessories/consumables in a list with items, quantities, prices, and links to where they may be purchased. This spreadsheet may be used as a template (save a copy for each vote in consideration, and set the sharing options to "anyone on the internet" is a "viewer"). The spreadsheet includes an option to add a "buffer" to the vote total, to cover unexpected changes, minor additions, price changes, shipping, etc. It is a good idea to include this buffer of 15-20% in the proposed budget.
Often during pre-vote discussion, there will be competing ideas about what options are best suited for Hive13. THAT IS OK, NOT EVERY MEMBER MUST AGREE. Good faith attempts must be made to consider and address all members' concerns and preferences, but ultimately it may not be possible to satisfy everyone. Ultimately, the final vote proposal is up to the person who is willing to be the one to organize the vote and follow through with the purchases and equipment setup (if that person's proposal is unacceptable to you, you absolutely have the right to vote no once the vote is posted).
Once all the above has been generally agreed upon, it is time to post the vote!
Phase 2 - Voting
Proposals that are ready for voting must be posted to our Discourse mailing list. The thread should be titled using the format "VOTE: <Description of what is being voted on> - <Total Vote Budget in Dollars>", and the body of the post should include a detailed list of the specific items that are being proposed for purchase, including prices for each item (this template is recommended), and there should be written description/explanation that includes how all the relevant concerns listed in the discussion section above are addressed by the proposal.
After the vote thread has been created, all current members may choose to vote Yes, No, or Abstain either by responding to the vote thread on the mailing list (Responses MUST clearly state "Yes" or "No" to be counted, responses like "This is awesome!" that do not clearly and concisely indicate a yes or no vote will NOT be counted toward the vote totals) OR members may vote in person at the meeting during which the vote closes (members who have voted online may not vote in-person on the same vote topic). The online voting must remain open for members to vote for a minimum of one week, with votes always ending/closing during a Tuesday meeting (a vote posted on a Wednesday, or a Tuesday night after a meeting thus must remain open through the next meeting to close on the following meeting). All members who neither respond to the online voting thread with their vote nor vote in-person at the meeting shall have their votes counted as "Abstain."
The Secretary (or another member of leadership if the secretary is not present) is responsible for counting the online and in-person votes and ensuring only the votes of current members are counted. If the sum of the online and in-person "Yes" votes is greater than the sum of the online and in-person "No" votes then the vote passes, otherwise the vote fails (Failed votes may be revised and reposted at a later time). The vote counts and conclusion shall be recorded in the meeting minutes and posted on the vote thread on the emailing list to ensure complete record keeping.
Once a vote has passed, the member who posted the vote is responsible for leading the implementation (unless another member has made an agreement with that member to share the responsibility).
Phase 3 - Purchase and Implementation
Once a vote has passed, the member who posted the vote is responsible to buying, setting up, and documenting the equipment.
Purchase and Reimbursement
- The member who posted the vote is responsible for buying the equipment, unless other arrangements have been made
- Hive13 is eligible for tax-exempt purchasing, simply fill out this Ohio Sales and Use Tax Blanket Exemption Certificate (Include Hive13's tax ID/EIN on the form, available from any member of Hive13 Leadership, pinned to the private leadership channel on slack) and submit it to the store the equipment is being purchased from, they will accept and process the form and not charge tax on the purchase (online stores may require emailing/calling their support)
- Save all receipts and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org (to attention of the current treasurer) for reimbursement. Include the following in the body of the email:
- a link to the vote thread the purchases are for,
- a brief summary of what is included on the receipts,
- a total amount to reimbursed,
- the remaining balance on the vote,
- a summary of what remains to be purchased under the vote,
- the method by which you would like to be reimbursed (options include PayPal or mailing a paper check, please include the relevant email or address)
Delivery and Setup/Installation
- Hive13 cannot receive USPS/FedEx/UPS/etc. deliveries. Generally, it is best to have things delivered to your home or work and bring them in to the hive yourself.
- For larger items, several members have large trucks, posting in slack asking for transportation help almost always gets a useful response.
- For VERY large deliveries, it may be possible to coordinate a scheduled delivery. This will vary case by case, and come down to the specific vendor/shipper, but arrangements must be made for a member to be present during the delivery.
- Installation and Setup
- the member who posted the vote is responsible for installation and setup of new equipment, however they are not required or expected to do it alone
- for complex projects, it often makes sense for the vote leader to schedule workdays to have a team of members work together
All new tools and equipment MUST have the following documentation created:
- A Hive13 Wiki page using the Equipment Page Template (using this template will automatically add the item to the Tools page with a simple refresh of that page)
- The equipment page ideally will document all operating instructions, certification requirements, consumables, and maintenance procedures for the equipment
- An asset tag affixed to the item and an asset redirect page created on the wiki
History of Procedure
For the first ~3 years that the Hive existed, money was very tight. We were constantly balancing membership dues with simply paying the rent. The general method that new tools, equipment, or supplies arrived in the space was members would donate them. As we grew we were finally starting to build up our safety savings account and had spare funds we could allocate to purchase tools & equipment while also providing basic supplies to the space.
At this point the Hive had between 20-30 members, and all votes were governed by the 'General Vote of the Membership' voting procedures. In other words, we had to have a quorum of membership (50% of the membership voting) and we had to have a majority of those voting approve the vote. Growth was a two edged sword though, when we had <20 members, it was easy to get 5-6 people to show up to a meeting and participate in a simple vote, however it was a lot harder to get 10-15 people to show up & actually vote. This created a large hurdle to use Hive funds to purchase equipment, tools, and supplies for the space.
Several conversations where had throughout January of 2013, and unfortunately not much was documented. Here is a link to a Google Group discussion where the general outline of our current purchase voting procedure was described. User:Blundar wrote up a more formal document in Google Docs and the group held a formal 'Vote of the Membership' to approve the voting procedure in the Jan 22, 2013 meeting.
The group has used that procedure since then, however in the last couple years it was noticed that the original Google doc had been deleted, nobody had a backup, and the contents of that Doc had never been migrated to the Wiki. This page was created as a way to retroactively write down what the procedure was, and possibly perform a couple minor tweaks to make the voting procedure more relevant for a group that has grown to 150+ members.
To be discussed at board meeting and incorporated as necessary:
- Dave V.
- As defined by the Bylaws and State of Ohio Law, the Directors have the authority and responsibility to veto irresponsible votes.
- It was also proposed to add a small 'Minimum Vote' total for the vote to encourage members to get more buy in for their proposal.
- An example 'minimum vote' would be in the range of 10 to 15 members. This is equivalent to ~6% to ~9% of membership
Considerations for future changes
Formalizing this procedure on the wiki has brought up the topic of what changes we might want to make to the purchase procedures. Some ideas that are being tossed around for future changes include...
- Require more than a simple majority of the votes to agree with the purchase. Eg: Say 90% of people voting need to agree that the purchase is a good idea. This would encourage greater compromise during the planning stages.
- Possibly different voting procedures for different purchase values? Eg: There is a difference between a $100 purchase and a $10,000 purchase. This would allow us to keep smaller purchases easy, while setting a higher bar for larger purchases
- Require large purchases (size of large TBD) to be part of some kind of long term spending strategy.
- Make the 'Phase 1 - Discussion' section's questions mandatory, possibly via some kind of a 'So you want to have a vote!' form purchase proposers need to fill out.
Note: The above list is simply brainstorming, nothing was decided on at any board meeting. Just ideas being tossed around.