Jesse Putnam, Eco Encore
Wednesday, 26 Feb 2003
Things have slowed down a bit since the furious activity at the beginning of the week. Today began with the typical half-dozen orders in my inbox, and I expect another six or so to come in by midnight. The featured sale for today is one of my all-time favorite CDs: the Indigo Girls’ self-titled release from 1990 (I love the song “Kid Fears”). This CD was ordered by a woman in Beaver Dam, Wis., and the proceeds gained from the sale will go to Transportation Choices Coalition, a very impressive organization that promotes alternatives to automobiles and petrol addiction.
Sales are usually strong after Eco Encore gets a significant donation — especially one that includes CDs, as they sell better than other items. We have not had a large donation of CDs for over a week, so the rate of sales is beginning to slow a tad. A welcome reprieve from the packing tape!
I have to spend a good part of today preparing budget numbers for our next board meeting. I’ll be meeting with our treasurer, Owen Rogers, next week to go over the numbers and settle on a Q2 budget that the board will be happy with. Both Owen and I (and the board) feel that one of the line items needing a significant increase is the one dealing with salary. At the moment Eco Encore is pretty much volunteer-run (I’m getting about $100 per month in this start-up phase), and that’s according to plan; we want all of our expenses to be covered by earned income. We are not doing our start-up according to the “dot.com” model (gaining investors, loans, grants to cover a large budget). We are instead making sure that all of our costs are covered by earned income. This is a challenge primarily because the majority of the money we bring in is then given away to our recipient environmental organizations. That’s the whole point, after all — to raise money for good environmental groups. Of course we need to cover our expenses so a small part of what we take in is used to cover our basic costs (we’re proud to have under 10 percent administrative costs — that means over 90 percent for our program!). The key to our success is a manageable increase in donations and sales; at some point this will lead to a reasonable salary for the director and perhaps an additional staff person as well.
With this lull in activity I have had a chance to reflect on all of the great things that have happened for Eco Encore since we began this project less than six months ago. Perhaps what I am most happy with is the activity and investment of our board of directors and volunteers. We truly are blessed to have seven amazing people on our board, all of whom bring talent, energy, commitment, and, perhaps most valuable to me, a remarkably thoughtful disposition to their work with Eco Encore. I cannot recall ever working for or with an organization that was able to get almost half of the board to a training night (code for “work will come”) as we did on Monday. In addition to the solid board, I am grateful for our volunteers, led by star volunteer Angela Emery. Angela has the distinction of being the first person to hear about the idea for Eco Encore (she was my roommate last September and I woke her up at midnight to share my brainstorm). I owe a lot to her because she embraced the idea and encouraged it, just as dozens have since.
This day will bring a slight divergence in mission (although I see it as all connected) as I plan on joining thousands of people across the country in a virtual march on Washington to oppose war with Iraq. I am scheduled to make calls in the early afternoon to my two senators and the White House. But I may not make the latter call, as I doubt they listen much to what we have to say.