---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Jenny Ryan <tunabananas@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Feb 8, 2019 at 12:15 PM
Subject: Proposal: Hire or Replace Me as Omni's Bookkeeper
To: <consensus@lists.omnicommons.org>

Dear Omninoms,

Recently, the topic of more regular and transparent financial reporting has come up in Omni Delegates Meetings. While this has traditionally been the domain of the Finance Working Group, said working group has usually seen fewer than 3 members in attendance, and historically has relied on one or two volunteers to uphold day-to-day financial transactions, regular reporting, annual filings (State, Federal, County, and City), loan repayments, invoicing, bank reconciliations, bill payments, check cashing and internal financing and filings. Additionally, we continue to receive requests for and accrue fiscally-sponsored projects, significantly adding to our administrative overhead. Our property tax exemption application is due February 15th, which requires detailed documentation of all entities that use the building (including one-time event rentals and small recurring group meetings). We also need to consolidate our mortgage loan within the next two years. Total number of hours spent on this labor each month has frequently trended toward that of full-time employment (with overtime).

I am now incapable of continuing to engage on this level with Omni’s bookkeeping and operations on a volunteer basis. I enjoy this work, and have been studying nonprofit bookkeeping and law generally over the past three years, obtained Quickbooks certifications, attended webinars and workshops, and have already begun doing nonprofit bookkeeping as a paid position for other clients. However, I have bills to pay and will soon need to find full-time paid employment or the equivalent - which means I won't have time to work on Omni.

This work adds up to minimally 20 hours/month and is reliant on skilled labor that has been consistently out of reach for Omni Commons since its inception. Starting March 1st, all of our community loans - totalling over $100K with monthly average repayments to the tune of $3,200 -  will have been repaid! We are now in a position, financially, to afford professional bookkeeping and administrative services (see Feasibility).

Paying for skilled labor is not unprecedented: since our beginnings, we have readily paid the hourly or project-based rate for legal assistance, city permitting and inspection fees, and building and maintenance work (including electrical, plumbing, fire safety, and roof repair) - as well as supporting paid A/V for events. Traditionally, those we hire have been people aligned and familiar with Omni’s vision and structure, or recommended by comrades within our community.


It seems to me that Omni has the following options:

  1. Hire an accountant and train them in the structure and history of Omni and its collectives (probably expensive);

  2. Hire another Omni volunteer and train them in bookkeeping, taxes, etc; (who will do the training?);

  3. Attempt to find someone else to do this work for free;

  4. Pay me to continue doing the work I've been doing for free over the past 3+ years.

Hire me as Omni’s interim bookkeeper/operations admin on a $25 hourly basis, with a reexamination of the agreement and contractual follow-up due diligence by a consensed-upon Omni Delegate upon the start of the next fiscal quarter (April 2019), with an aspirational increase to $30/hr before the end of 2019.


  • Created Chart of Accounts, generated nonprofit financial statements annually and custom reports on an as-needed basis for four nonprofit organizations (Sudo Room, OOC, Omni, and Sudo Mesh), and one worker-cooperatives (Agua Viva);

  • Created custom reports automatically sent monthly to Commons WG and Sudo Room;

  • Created and maintain Omni and Sudo Mesh’s business plans and budgets (both actual and 5-year Projected);

  • Filed Forms 990 and 199 (taxes) for all of the above organizations dating back to 2013

  • Rigorous bank account reconciliations, including redoing Omni’s dating back to 2014;

  • Oversaw Omni’s building purchase process, which required hundreds of hours, nearly 50 individual and organizational entities, and nearly 75 documents and signed contracts;

  • Oversaw Omni’s applications for and successful acquisitions of federal, state, city/business, sales, and property tax exemptions;

  • Oversaw much of the soliciting, drafting of promissory notes, and near-complete (as of March 1st) repayment of over $100,000 in community loans;

  • Oversee collective invoicing and followup of overdue invoices;

  • Drafted the following key nonprofit governance/finance documents for Omni (and the same for Sudo Mesh minus the latter two bullet points):

Qualifications and Skills:

  • Quickbooks ProAdvisor Certification (May 2018);

  • 5 years of nonprofit bookkeeping experience (Sudo Room 2013-current; Sudo Mesh 2013-current; Omni Commons 2015-current);

  • Proficiency with Quickbooks Online, Google Drive, and MediaWiki;

  • Knowledge of bookkeeping and generally accepted best practice accounting principles for complex non-profit organizations;

  • Strong organizational and communication skills; able to communicate effectively and efficiently through verbal and/or written means;

  • Attention to detail, especially with regards to data entry;

  • Discretion in the handling of confidential or sensitive information;

  • Great love of spreadsheets and documentation.

Responsibilities / Deliverables:

The vast majority of these I already do, but would be able to do more consistently and ideally while training a new Treasurer of the nonprofit.

  • Monthly bookkeeping tasks:

    • Bank account reconciliations in Quickbooks;

    • Accounts payable (bills - maintain Vendor files and payments including bill pay system & payroll;

    • Accounts receivable (invoices - ensure that receivables are collected promptly);

    • Liabilities (loan repayments & security deposits);

    • Assets (calculating value of purchases of equipment, machinery, fixtures, furniture, leasehold improvements & in-kind donations; calculating depreciation);

  • Regular, transparently-documented financial reporting:

    • Monthly income and expense reports to be submitted to the Delegates Council by the first Thursday of the month;

    • Monthly customized reports for Commons and Project income & loss;

    • Quarterly reports including: Incomes & Expenses (+ comparative analysis); Accounts Payable/Receivable; Bank Acct. Reconciliation; Income & Expense changes over 1-5 yrs;

    • Annual reporting including: current year’s Statement of Activity & Statement of Financial Position; State and Federal tax filings;

  • Communications & Fundraising:

    • Preparation and sending of donation acknowledgement letters by Jan 31st;

    • Assist with maintenance of grant budgets, and prepare reports for funders;

    • Prettified financial reports and binders for potential funders.

  • State Filings:

    • Prepare and file annual Federal 990s;

    • CA State Filings: Forms 199 (and schedules) and RRF-1s;

    • Bi-annual Statements of Information (SI-100s);

    • Property Tax Exemption Application submitted by Feb. 15th annually;

  • Budgeting:

    • Maintain current month-to-month and 5-Year Projected Budget docs;

    • Maintain Designated Funds (eg; Kitchen), Operational & Capital Reserve Funds;

    • Budgets created as-needed for grant applications and fundraising campaigns.

    • Create mortgage loan consolidation application package.

  • Documentation:

    • Updating our Guidestar and other online profiles;

    • Ensure accounting and communication processes are properly documented, and annual reports published on our website/wiki;

    • Update and prettify business plan;

    • Filing annual Board Meeting minutes (analog and digital);

    • Filing system management (analog and digital) and clear labeling/ documentation.

Goals & Aspirations:

  • Build Operating and Capital Reserve Funds as budgeted;

  • Scheduled regular maintenance of roof, exterior, HVAC, Fire, etc;

  • Boost the following potential sources of Omni income: MediaLab, Kitchen, Commons, recurring donations (eg; Patreon), grant awards, substantial donors/foundations;

  • Create and propose a long-term plan for moving toward sustainable energy (solar) and full-venue capabilities (fire sprinkler system, Conditional Use Permit / Liquor License, catering, event promotion, streamlined booking system);

  • Create and propose a sustainable compensation plan for currently-undervalued volunteer and member-collective labor (eg; percentage of Commons/event rental income to bottomliners and member-collective sponsors).

Financial Feasibility:

Omni’s current monthly expenses average $9,500/mo once all short-term loans are repaid in February of 2019. Our current monthly average income is $10,750, leaving a surplus of roughly $1,200/month in the beginning of 2019. This income is an average and does not reflect one-time larger grants and donations, which we’d be in a much better position to obtain with some upgrades to our documentation, reporting, and donor engagement.

I propose to do Omni’s bookkeeping work for hire (while still participating in additional volunteer capacity as I always have) on a 3-month trial basis at $25/hr, with hours fully documented and invoiced by the 1st of the month. This is a discounted rate ($45-$60/hr) and about what Omni is currently able to afford.     

This full proposal, including my resume, can be read and commented on as a Google Doc here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pZwwjGPjsCryp78dySTHFbrmiTZR-Q5FqQf82S5eTpk/edit?usp=sharing

Many thanks for your consideration. I hope to continue working with Omni Commons in a capacity that is sustainable for me and enables the continued fiscal operations of the building.

Help open a professional kitchen at the Omni Commons in Oakland!

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