How It Happens – A Clarification of Need
You can see from the accomplishments of four years that Brights all over the world must be doing something right – and that makes it worthwhile.
Now, here’s a case for your helping to uphold current programs and encourage the operation to grow in a financial way.
The General Activities Picture
Except for work done at Brights Central, activities of this movement are principally those of key Brights acting independently but in general alignment with the overall stated aims.
There are the Enthusiastic Brights (public Brights or celebrities) who self-identify and/or give mention and thereby spread the word within their activities. Authors such as Dawkins and Dennett consistently bring potential Brights to the site. Others do so in their own fashion. For example: there’s a Bright who recently created a huge bumper sign and put it on his car, in that way drawing attention to the website. Another Bright handles all merchandise sales.
Some Brights do work together in loose association, such those who facilitate the Brights’ Forum. (It is a semi-independent operation that involves a degree of online collaboration among the volunteers who keep it going.) The new Morality Project involves a task team working on a Wiki, and the second Brights Action Special Initiative Group (SIG) is being set up right now.
Almost all of the activity that takes place is by dedicated people who act without remuneration. Many pay out of pocket for activities in which they engage to benefit the overall movement. [Three examples: the bumper sign fellow; a Bright who traveled out of his nation to be an observer at an interfaith conference (and to be introduced as “a Bright” who is interested in the organizational endeavor to reduce religious violence); and the co-directors who, while on their European trip, arranged to go to gatherings of Brights in Iceland, Scotland, London, Brussels, Paris, and Rome.]
Brights Central Operational & Financial Facts
Headquarters; of the operation is a living room (turned into an office). From that space, the Co-Directors operate the website/database with help from a volunteer webmaster and a backup emergency-volunteer. They craft the content, respond to queries and requests, publish Bulletins, handle mishaps, and so on, and so on. The Co-Directors provide the office space at no charge.
BC also manages a legal educational nonprofit organization, The Brights’ Net (corporate name is the same as the constituency name). The organization sustains more than just Internet operations for the constituency. The Brights’ Net has an unpaid board. It must meet and oversee certain functions in keeping with governmental requirements.
The organization at present functioned for the past year with a revenue stream running at about $US 20,000, spending about $16,000, with a contingency fund of $4,000. Dr. Geisert receives no pay -- he typically spends a full work week on behalf of Brights. The Brights’ Net pays Dr. Futrell token pay (25 hours monthly) at the nominal rate of $35/hour (she has never yet worked that little, even on vacation). She typically puts in at least 25 hours a week.
The Co-Directors’ Activities and Plea
The constituency is large and very diverse, with thousands of individuals from all over the world having registered as Brights. The registration rate is increasing. All that is really good news for the Brights movement, but has a downside at Brights Central.
We’re keeping way too many great ideas (some are ours; some come from Brights) on the back burner. Why?
Daily communications are climbing. Although enrollments are automatic, every registration comment is read and many of the signup comments require an explanatory response. Now, over 100 emails arrive every day to be processed somehow. The monthly Bulletins typically take three full person-days to prepare.
In truth, the co-directors personally cannot continue doing what they’re doing at this pace. To put it bluntly, the “management” of the Brights’ operation (actually, this “crew of two”) is now really swamped by the sheer size of this constituency and needs the means to pay assistants to do specific tasks.
Some things are not being done (polling, PR, BrightenOps) that should be done. We definitely need to be more proactive in some areas for which funding is a requisite. (Each news release costs $500 and a bundle of BC time.)
We’ve achieved a lot in the past year, but we are definitely facing a challenging situation. We need the time to perhaps work with others to explore alternative sources of funding (likely, it's "out there"). And, who wants to sit around worrying where money would come from to accomplish a worthy project? Not everything need depend on BC, but many ideas sit on the back burner because they involve certain technology, and we have had no time to properly cooperate with those who have the resources and expertise.
This need has been mentioned in an informal way last equinox [Mynga just hates (!) asking for money], but both of us think it is time now for all Brights to understand how crucial it is that BC get part-time assistance. Volunteers are nice, but the necessary accountability for responsible assignments must be accompanied by remuneration.
The constituency of Brights has grown too large to scrape along on a small-scale budget. We need the ability to set aside time to engage in the type of actions that got the Brights off the ground in the first place. There is good reason for Brights to support The Brights’ Net’s endeavors. We’re on a roll, activity-wise, but The Brights’ Net organization needs adequate resources.
It needs at least $25,000 in donations to come in via this equinox appeal. Brights have to give help to get the jobs done right, or done at all. Think of all the activity an organization of this size must sustain. Compare it in your mind to other organizations, and think of the accomplishments so far. Think of the lost potential accomplishments.
The time has come. In order for the constituency to continue to grow in influence, there needs to be a different organizational model. There must be delegation of some tasks to paid assistance.
We’re doing our part. Whether or not we all move ahead is up to each Bright to play his/hers.