On the last Occupy Supply Skill Share we featured a discussion on Finance in the Occupy Movement with Edwin M. Walker. Ed is a Notre Dame grad, and got his law degree from Indiana University. He began his career as a corporate and securities lawyer in Columbus, Ohio. He was an Assistant Attorney General in Tennessee, working on consumer protection and securities cases for several years. He was the securities commissioner of Tennessee for three and a half years, where he focused on criminal prosecutions and abusive tax shelters. He practiced business and bankruptcy law for 25 years. His experience can be a valuable resource for Occupations dealing with current financial issues.
The Discussion began with an overview of some simple things an Occupation can do on the front end to make the financial decision making process easier and some simple fundraising options. The first step to the financial stability of an Occupation is the creation of the finance working group and its policy. We went over some of the Occupy Austin Finance working group document and went over specific clauses that prevent future issues. The principles of the Occupy movement often contradict the hierarchical nature of the world of finance it is important to define these relationships early on so that when you are looking into what kind of entity you want to become.
Once you have established a process to make decisions you need to find ways to consistently raise funds. Donations are what fueled the movement initially but to remain sustainable funding is necessary. Holding fundraisers with affinity groups or tabling at others events can bring in resources especially when related to a current campaign. Selling Occupy merchandise is a great way to maintain self sufficiency it also encourages participation and spreads your message through your supporters.
If you are going to have money held in an account then you will need to become an entity to have a bank account in the name of your Occupation. Our resident expert Ed Walker gave the group insights on the types of organizations that you have to choose from formal and informal. From that point Ed discussed the advantages and disadvantages of organization type and tax status. Ed explained the differences between types of Non Profits especially with respect to liability issues. He also went over what is necessary to set these types of entities up. Mission Statements are particularly important when applying for Non Profit. Record keeping an management where highlighted as things to focus on once established. Ed suggested using credit unions going over the benefits for the community and personalized service.
The presentation lead to a lengthy discussion that included members of several Occupations. Issues of trust, accountability, liability and independence were raised. Ed was able to talk participants through their individual situations. Ever city deals with a difference of opinion with matters of finance; much of this because of fear and lack of understanding. By clarifying elements of the presentation and addressing the direct problems of the Occupiers on the call this Skill share was able to shed a much needed light on Occupy Finance.
Please join us for our next skill share on Wednesday 5/9 at 8 pm Eastern where we will discuss Alternative Media: