Ways to help the Board help you

The cake is a lie.

If you have read my previous post, you may have realized you need to ask the Board of Directors for help.  The next step is to send them a proposal via email for them to consider it.

Like many of us, the Directors receive more than their fair share of email. In order for your request to be considered, the Directors have to be able to quickly and easily understand what it is you want, why you are requesting it, and how it would benefit the GNOME Foundation. Below are some thoughts on how to increase the likelihood your request will be considered promptly.

Don’t bury the lead

Start your email with a quick and simple summary of what you want and why. Include a deadline for when you need a reply. For example:

I would like to request $50 for tea and snacks for a meeting of the GNOME reading club.  I need a reply by December 1 as to whether the Board will approve my request.

By putting this at the top, the Board Directors know right away what you want. If your request is further down in the email, the Directors may not realize there was an actionable item buried inside.

Having a deadline is very helpful as well. It gives the Board of Directors a time frame. Without it, the item may well slip through the cracks as the busy Directors will prioritize dealing with items that seem to be under more time pressure.

Explain who and what

Next you need to let the board know your bona fides.  If you are a GNOME Foundation member, tell them so. Knowing you are a member lets the Board know of your commitment to GNOME.  It is also important to explain why you are the one making the request and details of what exactly you want.  Continuing from my request above:

Having been a Foundation member for many years, I have noticed there being a lack of reviews from within our community for GNOME technical manuals.  I have discussed this with some members in the community and five of us (all members) plan on reading and then getting together to discuss and review these works.  I am requesting the $50 in order to serve tea and cakes during the break in the discussions.

If you have more supporting materials and explanations, please do add it here. The Board does want to have enough information to make an informed decision.

If you are asking for money

The GNOME Foundation does not have unlimited resources. As a non-profit, the Board of Directors works hard to ensure that the funds are spent wisely and towards our mission. Sometimes their budget cannot cover the amount of your request. Other times, you or your endeavor might be untested in which case the Board may not want to risk a large amount. If you give a detailed list of how you plan on spending the money in the order you would spend it, you are more likely to be able to get an amount you can work with. To continue our example:

List of how I would spend the $50 in order of priority
Tea          $10
Sandwiches   $25
Cakes        $15
Total        $50

If the Board can only approve $10, we will have a shorter event.

As a general rule, if the Board approves your budget, you will need to wait until after the event and submit receipts for reimbursement up to the approved amount. If, for financial reasons, you need the funds in advance, please put it up front in your request as that may affect the Board’s decision. Note that even if you do get approval to receive the funds early, you still need to submit all receipts to the Board as soon as possible after the event.

Be available for questions

The Board may have some questions for you that you may not have thought to cover in your email. Let them know how and when they can reach you quickly if need be. This is especially important if your deadline is near:

If the Board has any questions about this proposal, you can find me on IRC or by email this week.  Unfortunately, I will be unavailable next Monday through Thursday due to a prior commitment.

Make sure the subject heading is descriptive

Before you send in your request, please put a descriptive subject for the email. Oftentimes, Board members attempt to pull up email requests quickly during the discussion. If you use a generic subject, your email will be very hard to find. This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes it just gets forgotten.

subject: requesting $50 for refreshments for reading club meeting

Once you have sent in your request, be patient.  The Board does meet regularly but often has a lot of business to attend to.  It is okay to ask after a couple of days to make sure the Board has received your request.  But after you receive confirmation that they are considering the matter, give them time to decide.

Good luck with your requests!


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