Steering Committee Notes, 10/20/09


Mary Alice Baish, Gary Bass, Danielle Brian (on phone), Lucy Dalglish, Charles Davis, Leslie Harris, Conrad Martin, Patrice McDermott, Michael Ostrolenk, David Sobel, and Amy Fuller


  • Financial Update
    • Quarterly Financial Report
      • The coalition is spending below budgeted amounts. At current spending rates, the estimated coalition fund balance at the end of the calendar year will be approximately $209,088.
      • Patrice will create a further scaled-back budget for use in case coalition does not meet fundraising needs.
    • Fundraising
      • The coalition’s grant from EFA was not renewed and we are not likely to be asked to submit a request for the next funding cycle; the loss of funding creates a hole of $75,000 in the coalition’s budget for 2010 and again for 2011.
      • No proposals are pending at this time; several prospects are in early stages of development, but likelihood ranges from unclear to uncertain for each.
      • Coalition will work with development officials from other organizations to re-write standard grant proposal to focus on outcomes.
    • Development
      • Testimonials- The Steering Committee approved the coalition collecting testimonials from member organizations explaining how the coalition adds to the value of the organization’s work; the testimonials should not be limited to organizations with representatives on the Steering Committee; the testimonial should be about a paragraph, and should be as specific as possible regarding the importance of the coalition’s work to the organization
        • Possible coalition functions to highlight include: broaden exposure of openness issues; pick up issues that no other organization has resources to cover; coordination of disparate interests; link to state-based organizations; and cost saving by providing a pooled resource.
      • Member Organization Contributions – The Steering Committee approved asking for financial contributions from coalition members; the size of the suggested contribution, which will be voluntary, can work on a sliding scale depending on the organization’s annual budget; the commitment of resources to the coalition from members will help the coalition show potential funders the commitment of members to the coalition’s existence. Patrice will develop a plan for going out beyond the Steering Committee.
    • Plans for funders briefing
      • On October 28 the coalition is coordinating a 2-hour funders briefing, with lunch, in New York City hosted by the Ford Foundation; other sponsors include: the Bauman Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Open Society Institute, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Stewart R. Mott Charitable Trust.
      • Four panelists will speak for about 5 minutes each to leave plenty of time for discussion. Agenda for briefing is attached.
      • At the meeting, coalition will distribute a program, section of Secrecy Report Card 2009 on the Obama Administration, and a directory of some coalition member organizations (including, for each organization, contact information and an entry explaining the organization’s work on transparency/ openness/ accountability).
    • Discussion Items
      • Website
        • The policy section of the coalition website has been updated to reflect priorities laid out in coalitions 2007 – 2009 strategic plan (policy area: Security Restrictions on Information; FOIA; Digital Access; Congressional Transparency; and Executive Branch Accountability and Openness); thoughts on additional resources, etc. are appreciated.
        • The coalition has spoken to a designer regarding a re-launch of; the project is currently in the early design stage.
      • Strategic Planning
        • The discussion of the 2010 – 2012 Strategic Plan was deferred to the January meeting. Coalition staff will meet with Steering Committee members and others to collect ideas for new agenda for openness prior to next meeting, which will be dedicated to strategic planning.

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