2013 - IRS Form 990 Annotations

In financial terms, Creating the Future is a $65,000 organization, with revenues deriving primarily from educational program fees plus donations.

As a living laboratory for accomplishing social change, our goal is that individuals and organizations learn and adopt effective approaches for actually creating the future they imagine for their communities. We do this via four program areas:

  • Research, Development and Experimentation
  • Education
  • Demonstration
  • Convening

As an organization with thousands of volunteer hours providing programs in our four mission areas - and with fellows all around the world spreading the mission in their own way - describing our work in dollars alone does our work a significant disservice.

More important to us are the community resources we are activating to do our work. People (with their skills and passion) and other resources found throughout our global community are what keep this young organization growing beyond what our cash budget would suggest. (You can watch the resource development planning work we did in early 2013 online here, as all our meetings are open for the public to watch and participate in.)

The following are details from the financial side of our 990, to provide insight into what is really going on behind the numbers on that form.

Part 1: Expenses

  • Line #12
    Creating the Future is currently run almost entirely by volunteers, with the two founders working 60-70 hours/week apiece for the salary listed on the 990: $14,500.The core operations team consists of those two founders, plus two volunteer team leaders. Just in the biweekly Operations Team meetings alone, those two team leaders volunteer approximately 50 hours apiece - plus their actual volunteer work. Total volunteer hours in 2013: Over 10,000 hours for all programs.Staffing and funding for salaries will increase in 2014, as Creating the Future explores effective means for funding social change (some notes on that innovative program can be found here.
  • Line #13
    Professional services are primarily accounting services, for filing our 990 and for the 3rd party payroll service that ensures our payroll taxes are filed and payments made in a timely fashion.A small amount of this line item is legal fees, towards the filing of trademarks.
  • Line #14
    Most of this amount is rent for the office:
  • Office space for the two founders (including equipment for production of all educational materials)
  • Office for Operations Coordinator (to be hired in 2014)
  • Shared workspace for planning / meeting / brainstorming
  • Studio for recording podcasts and educational programs
  • Convening space / classroom, where we hold our immersion courses (saving the cost of off-site venue)
  • Kitchen / utility area
  • Phones, insurance and other office-related expenses are noted in Schedule O (including cell phones), bringing the office-related expenses to approximately $31,000.Note: While this amount is currently almost ½ of our $65,000 budget, that is because salaries are so low. Were our mostly-volunteer staff being paid, and the office fully staffed with an assistant and operations coordinator, office expenses would remain constant, but would become a significantly smaller percentage of total expenses.
  • Line #15
    Most of our work is done online, with very little printed / shipped
  • Line #16 (Per Schedule O)

Travel and Community Engagement:

While these have been separated out in the financial statements, depending on the nature of the expense, these two sums relate almost entirely to two week-long events: In 2013, Creating the Future was invited to Vancouver, and to Southern Ontario, to lead a series of community conversations. Approximately 300 community leaders participated in each of those regional tours.

Conversations in Ontario were coordinated by four Creating the Future fellows (with hundreds of volunteer hours dedicated to designing and coordinating the tour as a whole and all the individual events, identifying community sponsors, and producing / executing each of the events). A summary of the results of that tour (through Guelph, London, Hamilton and Toronto), as well as an online debrief with the tour's organizers is here.

Conversations in Vancouver were hosted by BoardVoice of British Columbia and VantagePoint, with conversations in Vancouver and Duncan (in the Cowichan Valley), as well as a full day of training and conversation at the BoardVoice conference. The event in Duncan was entirely volunteer-driven, with a range of companies and organizations contributing their, time, skills and resources to make that event happen. The result of one stand-out conversation is described here.

Conferences and Meetings:

In 2013, three members of the Creating the Future team were selected to present at the BoardSource conference in Los Angeles. While BoardSource picked up some of those expenses, others (like airfare from Canada) was not covered by BoardSource. We did some quiet fundraising among our fellows to offset some of these expenses.

The topic we presented on was Extreme Accountability via our open, participatory board meetings.

We did all our planning for this event using that open process - from writing the proposal together, to planing the actual session, to debriefing live online. Links to all those meetings are that that debrief post here.

Web-related expenses, plus bank / credit card fees:

As a virtual organization, this includes everything from domain hosting to mailing list sign-up and maintenance, to office internet access (ultra-high-speed, due to our meetings all being public, open, participator via Google hangout)

Our online shopping cart and workshop registration fees combine with PayPal as our merchant bank (far less expensive than others we have used in the past, and we have enjoyed stellar customer service from PayPal).

Program materials and workshop supplies:

While this line item includes workbooks, worksheets, videos and the like, the largest expense here is for venues for live workshops. In 2013, we used local conference facilities in our headquarters community of Tucson for a 50 person workshop and for one week-long immersion course. In mid-2013, we redesigned our office to be able to host the immersion course there, saving approximately $2,500 each time we do that class. Our October 2013 immersion course was the first to be hosted at Creating the Future's home, and our participants all talked about how deeply connected that made them feel to the work and the organization. A true win-win!

Part IV: Officers and Directors

In 2013, our board members were located in three countries (U.S.A., Canada, U.K.) on two continents. The board meets monthly, via Google hangout.

Prior to 2013, we had begun inviting "fully participating guests" to join us in the hangout - individuals whose input we thought would add a diversity of thought to our discussions. These individuals were invited to not simply be present, but to fully participate in the discussion as if they were a member of the board.

In January of 2013, our board took the next huge leap in the direction of open participation, making all our meetings open for anyone, anywhere, to watch via our Walking the Talk blog, and to participate via the Twitter hashtag #CTFuture. We hope you will check out some of our discussions here and then sign up at that blog, to be notified of future meetings. We look forward to having you be part of our work!