Igneouss wrote:Now the Org does say lots of things about it's intentions concerning money. You can read it on the web site. But it's what the Org DOES NOT say that is meaningful.
Here's a list for folks to ponder:
1) Annual saleries of individuals (the 6 plus long time career folks). The 6 could pay themselves anything they want and are under no obligation to disclose. Furthermore, they can change the rules at will. "we only make 50,000/yr" could be the statement the year after giving each other million dollar bonuses.
2) Profit and loss from year to year. Back when they lost money or broke even they had no trouble talking about this. Now days they are silent.
3) Decision NOT to charter as a 503(c) corporation. Non profit status saves lots of money on taxes. There are only 2 reasons why they would not do this. a) they fear disclosure and/or b) they fear having a borad of directors.
4) The Org streadfastly refuses to discuss ticket sales numbers. As time goes by the original arguments for this become meaningless.
The current coporate structure allows the 6 to say and do pretty much anything they want with millions of dollars. Imporantly, they can change the rules at will. No disclosure required.
Their tendency toward secrecy is very suspicious looking. For example, they argue that non profit status would not work for them. Ok, but nothing is stopping them from publishing audited financial reports.
I leaned long ago that you cannot trust anyone with large sums of money and zero oversite. They will find an infinite number of creative ways to suck up anything that they think they can get away with.
It's all a bit troubling. Burning Man was built on the backs of countless volunteers. Those people are due the accountability that is lacking here.
A lot of these things you ponder have been addressed, I feel.
First, the total salaries paid each year is listed in the Afterburn report (latest: http://afterburn.burningman.com/10/financial_chart.html
). Salaries for everyone on the payroll at anytime totaled $7,283,000 in 2010.
Second, the Afterburn report makes clear what the total expenditures were. Income from ticket sales isn't hard to calculate either since they list the maximum population.
Third, they have said it was specifically theboard of directors requirement
that forced them to form as an LLC. Unlike a corporation or non-profit, an LLC allows the owners to form a company with exactly the rules they need. They can choose to functionally be a non-profit or can act like a corporation and try and maximize. Since the "uninvolved board of directors" cannot participate in running the event the people that started Burning Man had to either turn control over to outsiders or they had to become uninvolved and become directors themselves, thereby bringing in newbies to become the producers. That idea was unmanageable at the time of incorporation.
Four, okay so I don't understand this one either, since I have never heard any explanation from BRC LLC.
As for being secretive. They open their books to the public in a way that no other LLC does. In fact, non-profits don't have to open their books with an Afterburn report. Explicitly publishing your expense report and writing a report on operations is hardly "zero oversight." It's not full disclosure, with all of the additional criticism that would surely entail, but it's not complete secrecy as you make out.
Further, the LLC is officially undergoing the process to become a non-profit
, as announced last year. What's your bitching about? They heard your complaint
and realized they could fix this major organizational/financial factor and you are acting as if they still have not heard you. This allows the founders to move onto a board of directors now that there is ready replacement staff to become the new producers of the event, something that was not possible a decade ago. (It's also important as the LLC boards enters the age where retirement should be considered.)