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transparent and ethical fund management

syn2cat is an organization almost completely funded by its members. As such, it’s our responsibility to manage those funds in the most equal, ethical and transparent way as possible.

In the past couple of weeks, we have spent some effort into improving the ways we’re handling your funds, making sure they’re being invested where and when needed and also being as transparent about our transactions as possible without infringing on anyone’s privacy.

The measures we’ve put in place are the following ones:

  1. clear guidelines on funding procedures
  2. transparent transactions
  3. etika – an ethical savings account

1. clear guidelines on funding procedures

The funding processWhen in the past, there have been numerous discussions about buying a certain tool or part, with decisions been taken and revoked, there’s now a clear and concise guideline that is the one and only authority on the funding procedure at syn2cat.

The guide explains how any member can either acquire an item directly or engage the entire member-base through the process of a democratic vote, depending on the amount of money required.

The guide goes on to explain just how such a vote will be cast and gives some insight on how the optional methodology of pledging for an item can ease the acquisition process.

The page is rounded off by a series of frequently asked questions (or until now rather what we imagined might be FAQs).

2. transparent transactions

Next to being concise with the funding procedures, we have also decided to make our transactions more transparent in order to respond to a number of questions, such as

  • where does our money come from?
  • where does it go to?
  • how much is left to be spent?
  • which are our recurring fees?

However, even while we’re trying to be as transparent with our finances as we can, we’re still valuing the privacy and equality of our members much more, which is why we’re rendering anonymous a considerable deal of the data that is being published.  Naturally as we’re hackers and as such way too lazy to copy data from one tool to another one manually, we’ve devised a simply python script that parses a csv export from KMyMoney and uploads it to our mediawiki installation through the available editing API.

#!/usr/bin/env python
# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-

import sys, csv, re, string
import urllib, urllib2, json
from hashlib import md5
[...]
def apiRequest(params, headers={}):
req = urllib2.Request(url, params, headers)
response = urllib2.urlopen(req).read()
return json.loads(response)
[...]

Which makes sending it off to the wiki tremendously easy:

~$ ./transmit.py transactions.csv
336 transactions parsed.
Logging into wiki...
Login successful, requesting edit token...
Editing page...
Success!

The results of all this can be seen on the Finances page.

3. etika savings account

Etika INFOAlthough taken a while back already, the decision to turn our savings account into an ethical savings account managed by the etika a.s.b.l. was only put into action a couple of days ago. Even though we’re always trying to multiply them, there just always aren’t as many projects going on that we could invest in, which is why we’re regularly dumping some funds into a savings account with our bank. By turning our conventional savings account into an etika account, we’re making  sure that our funds are managed according to the following principles:

responsibility
our funds will be invested into projects that have a positive effect on our environment and community.
transparency
we will be regularly brought up to speed about what our savings are invested in and what their turnout is. etika periodically issues reports by snail-mail and as pdf-downloads
solidarity
by waiving 0.20% of the turnout on our account (compared to what we’d get with a regular account), we’re enabling the BCEE to give out alternative credits at a much more favourable rate to their etika customers
sustainability
credits funded by etika savings accounts are mostly given out to local ecological projects, thus improving the sustainability of our environments

We hope that all of these measures, and the ones that will follow – since we have some in our pipelines – will leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside ;)

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