November 26, 2018
The Board of the Open Stories Foundation presents this document to answer questions about recent changes to our structure and strategy with the Foundation.
Current Open Stories Foundation Board: At present, the Open Stories Foundation Board is comprised of: Jeremy Macdonald, Kim Turner, Nadine Hansen, and Steve Holbrook. Roger McOmber recently stepped down from the OSF and we express gratitude to him for his many years of service. Craig Woodfield, after years of service on the Board, and more recently as, Board Chairman, has stepped down. We are pleased to announce that he will continue to serve on our Financial Committee. Craig has our deepest appreciation for the years of service to the OSF. Jeremy Macdonald is now serving as Interim Chairman.
Statement of Fiduciary Responsibility*: It is the Board’s responsibility to ensure that the Open Stories Foundation operates with financial integrity and in accordance with its values. The financial activities are overseen by an independent public accounting firm: Allred Jackson.* Annual results will continue to be reported in the annual reports.
Note: The OSF has changed its accounting firm to Shaw & Co since the release of this document.
Financial Oversight and Transparency: The Open Stories Foundation Board provides strong oversight over OSF finances while providing donors with financial transparency of OSF operations. The Board’s finance committee requires processes and controls for approvals and reviews performance monthly. These processes and controls include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Utilize a qualified, professional accountant to keep the books and records of the foundation.
- Engage a reputable and qualified independent CPA firm to ensure tax returns are prepared correctly and filed on time.
- Ensure each OSF disbursement is recorded by the OSF accountant and reviewed by the Director of Operations (or other designated OSF staff member).
- Ensure employee expenses are reviewed by someone other than the employee incurring the expenses.
- Closely monitor employee and podcaster compensation, ensuring amounts paid are consistent with compensation levels approved by the Board.
- Establish executive compensation levels by the OSF Board.
- Implement an annual budget process where the annual budget is reviewed and approved by the Board and budget to actual results are regularly reported to the Board of Directors.
- Require the firm’s independent accounting firm to perform regular review procedures over every OSF disbursement and report the results of these procedures directly to the Finance Committee.
- Ensure other key accounting policies and controls are implemented (donor account and bank reconciliations etc) as needed to ensure the financial information reported to donors and included in regulatory tax filings are accurate.
- Publish, at least annually, key financial information, prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, to OSFs donors. This information includes all executive director compensation for the year, donations and other revenues for each major OSF activity (podcasts, events etc), cash balances and other key balance sheet and revenue and expense information. This information will be provided directly to donors as requested and also available on the OSF website https://www.openstoriesfoundation.org/finances/.
- Provide a forum for donors to ask questions and request additional information about OSF finances. Donors can email these questions or requests to the Board’s email address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sexual Harassment Policy*: The Open Stories Foundation Sexual Harassment Policy can be found here.* Claims of sexual harassment can be sent to the Incident Response Team at email@example.com. The Incident Response Team will investigate all issues and maintain the confidentiality of the submitter. If any person violates the Sexual Harassment Policy they will be subject to corrective action. To date, the Board reports that the OSF is a harassment free workplace and no allegations of sexual harassment have been sustained.
* Note: The OSF Sexual Harassment Policy has been updated since this document was released.
Conflict of Interest*: The Open Stories Foundation requires past and future Directors and Officers to adhere to its Conflict of Interest Policy*. This policy protects the interests of OSF when OSF enters into transactions or arrangements that might benefit the private interest of an officer or director of OSF. Furthermore, the policy requires disclosure of any potential conflicts of interest, and the board determines if it is indeed a conflict of interest.
Podcasters are contractors to the OSF and are not restricted by the OSF to do other for-profit activities. Podcasters may mention their for-profit activities so long as they also state that the activity mentioned is for-profit and not affiliated with OSF. They are not allowed to mention details of the activities, such as dates, locations, or pricing; and must direct listeners to visit a non-OSF location for further information.
* Note: The OSF Sexual Harassment Policy has been updated since this document was released.
Executive Director and Podcaster Compensation: All Executive Director and podcaster compensation is required to be approved on an annual basis by the OSF Board of Directors. Currently, no podcaster or OSF employee (including the Executive Director) is a member of the OSF Board of Directors. If a podcaster or OSF employee joins the Board in the future they would be excluded from this approval process.
Executive Director Compensation to date: Key considerations in determining the appropriate level of Executive Director compensation include the following:
- Financial performance of the Foundation, operating budget and available cash flow.
- Job requirements and performance.
- Market value of the Executive Director to the organization.
Prior to 2017, the overriding factor in the determination of the Executive Directors’ compensation was the foundation’s cash flow. While the other factors likely warranted higher compensation level during this time period, the Board capped Executive Director compensation at a lower amount based on budget and cash flow limitations.
Beginning in 2017, after a sustained period of strong operating performance and positive cash flows, the Board concluded that the Foundation could sustain higher levels of Executive Director Compensation. As a result, increased compensation was approved in 2017 consistent with the Boards determination of the Executive Directors performance and value to the organization. The growth and strong financial performance of Mormon Stories Podcast, which is hosted by the Executive Director was also a primary factor considered by the Board to warrant increased compensation. Mormon Stories podcast has historically generated the vast majority of the Foundations donations and has subsidized the other OSF sponsored podcasts and activities.
In 2018, the Board changed the Executive Director’s compensation method from a standard salary plus bonus structure to a structure more aligned each major role performed by the Executive Director. Under this new structure, his compensation includes the following components.
- A salary for this role as Executive Director (fixed at $75,000).
- A fixed fee paid for each event he leads for OSF. This fee is consistent with the fees paid to other professionals who participate in these events. The number of events is limited to those approved by the Board, which provides an effective cap on the event compensation. [at the time of this decision, OSF was doing events, as of this announcement, however, the OSF is no longer doing events]
- Variable compensation for hosting Mormon Stories Podcast equal to 75% of any contributions received directly for the Mormon Stories podcast, subject to a maximum compensation amount established by the Board. No compensation is received by the Executive Director for donations made to OSF or podcasts other than Mormon Stories.
- A discretionary bonus as determined by the Board based on his performance as Executive Director.
In setting this compensation level, the Board intentionally established caps on event and podcast related compensation to ensure that total compensation didn’t exceed a pre-determined budgeted amount for the year. As a result, Executive Director compensation is expected to be approximately $200,000 in 2018.
Changes in Staff at the OSF: As various plans were presented for sustaining both the mission, growth and goals of the OSF, staff changes were implemented to simplify and financially strengthen the foundation. We extend our deepest appreciation to our former office staff and the excellent work Tim Coray, Sharon Price, led by Amy Grubbs, contributed to the health and growth of the OSF.
Donor Feedback: The OSF Board welcomes any questions or concerns from donors. Please direct emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Updated 10/17/2019 to incorporate new accounting firm name, new sexual harassment policy, and new conflict of interest policy – to avoid confusion, and to be fully transparent. The previous full version of this document can be found here.
October 30, 2018
The mission of the Open Stories Foundation (OSF) is to promote understanding, healing, growth, and community for people experiencing or impacted by religious transition. To continue achieving that mission the OSF has undergone a self-evaluation of its services, and the organizational structure needed to deliver those services. The purpose of the evaluation process was to ensure that the OSF was creating the most value from the donations received. The OSF Board ran this process of self-evaluation, with inputs from staff, including John Dehlin and the Director of Operations. The criteria were to make sure that: 1) the mission was best fulfilled, 2) the management model was sustainable, and 3) that the organization was financially solvent. The board unanimously approved the changes from the self-evaluation.
The changes can be summarized by:
- The elimination of the events program (OSF-sponsored workshop and retreats),
- A change in our podcaster compensation model, and
- An evaluation of our board structure.
Workshops/Retreats. Since 2015, the OSF has supported an events program (workshops and retreats) for people affected by religious transition. While it has been successful enough financially to cover the cost of the staff supporting it, it is not a core service to the OSF and the board has decided to eliminate it. Going forward, OSF podcasters will be free to host their own events; they will be responsible for ensuring that their events are high quality and financially sustainable. Since the OSF does not need the staff to support the events program any longer, these staff positions have been eliminated. The Board would like to officially thank Tim Coray and Sharon Price who have performed this labor with love. This change also significantly reduces the amount of support required from the Director of Operations. The Board is still working on defining the responsibilities of the the Director of Operations role going forward.
Without the salary costs of events staff and management, the overhead of the OSF is minimized and financially viable. The OSF will continue to employ a part-time operations person and a part-time video/audio editor.
Podcaster Compensation. Podcasters are contractors to the OSF, and the Board has approved a new, simplified compensation model for podcasters that will align podcaster incentives to create the best content regularly, and to help to ensure financial sustainability of the OSF. The plan for 2019 is for all podcasters to receive 75% of the revenue designated for their specific podcast by donors, up to a cap of $200,000/year. Donations can be made through the respective podcast website(s), or to the OSF where checks can be designated to the specific podcaster. Ultimately, this model has the potential to increase the benefits to people experiencing religious transitions.
With regards to John’s compensation, he is serving as interim director of OSF until a new director is hired. He will continue to receive a salary as interim director, and will also be compensated as a podcaster. His total compensation for 2018 is not expected to exceed $200,000.
Board Organization: OSF Board roles are intended to last two years, and several board members have been serving much longer than that. Roger McOmber was ready to transition off the board after three years of service, but agreed to stay on and help with the evaluation process. Now that the evaluation is complete, so is Roger’s service. Craig Woodfield also has three years of board service and has transitioned out of this role and will continue as finance committee chair. The remaining board members would like to express our gratitude for their service and examples. Their guidance has helped grow the OSF and show us the way.
The OSF board will determine how many board members are required to support the foundation after this transition. It is possible that fewer board members will be needed, and we will make updates as any changes occur. It is worth noting that John had previously been a board member and voluntarily stepped down from this position earlier in the year, allowing for greater board independence, and allowing him more time to focus on his podcast and his individual endeavors. John’s exact, if any, involvement with the board going forward will be part of the Board’s ongoing evaluation process.
Conflict of Interest Policy: OSF is a non-profit and will promote understanding, healing, growth, and community for people by enabling its podcasters to have greater impact. The OSF will not invest time or resources into any for-profit endeavors of its own or of its podcasters.
Going Forward: OSF will fulfill its mission by focusing on all its podcasters. We hope to help our podcasters increase the quality of their content thereby increasing the number of people that they are helping. Transitions like this are always bittersweet and saying goodbye to friends and employees is difficult. We are very grateful especially for Amy Grubbs who managed staff and operations full-time for the last two years. Her vision and efforts have helped thousands of people.
Please reach out to the board at email@example.com for additional questions. Please also look forward to our year end report for more information.
Board Secretary Jeremy Macdonald on behalf of the Board of the Open Stories Foundation including:
* Updated 10/17/2019 to include new Conflict of Interest statement, to avoid confusion, and to provide full transparency.
The Open Stories Foundation (OSF) would like to make an official statement regarding its financial policies and procedures.
The mission of the OSF is to promote understanding, healing, growth, and community for people experiencing or impacted by religious transition.
The OSF has always striven to be open in our communications, ethical in our treatment, and responsive to fair and equal compensation for all of our vendors, podcasters, and OSF employees.
Our commitment to financial transparency will never change, as it is core to who we are as an organization. The OSF has released its annual financial statements every year since its inception. We work closely with our tax firm and accountant to provide an accurate and legal report each year and will continue to do so as a 501(c)3 organization. As soon as our financial statements are made available to us by our accountants, they are immediately placed online. We have acted in this way since the beginning, and it will never change.
John Dehlin’s compensation has been set by the OSF Board of Directors, and is based on feedback from an independent HR consultant, his education and experience, his set of responsibilities as CEO, and his tenure and performance leading the organization. John’s base salary is currently set at $82,500 plus basic benefits (e.g., health insurance), and John is eligible for a board-approved annual performance bonus.
Our contracted podcasters are paid in an equitable and sustainable way. Additional statements of support offered by our podcasters are provided below.
For those who have specific concerns, we have a direct email that our OSF Board of Directors can access. A board member will respond to all questions via phone or email. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, the OSF Board of Directors, podcasters, and employees respect and support John Dehlin and his efforts to continue the mission of the Open Stories Foundation.
Craig Woodfield, CPA, Board Member, Finance Committee Chair
On behalf of,
OSF Board of Directors
John Dehlin, OSF CEO
Amy Grubbs, OSF Director of Operations
Cody Layton, OSF Project Manager
Statement from Gina Colvin: A Thoughtful Faith Podcast Host
“I love that I get to talk to some brilliant and wonderful human beings who make such a difference in my life and in the life of hundreds of thousands of other people all over the world.
I love that I get to set the creative direction on the A Thoughtful Faith Podcast and that I get to mix things up, try new things, and interview who I like, with only minimal editorial oversight.
I’m grateful that there are people out there who value ATF enough that they donate so that I can be remunerated for my time. But I also love that it is free content and that people with limited means can also listen guilt-free.
With respect to my work with the Open Stories Foundation and John Dehlin – that is my business. But needless to say, I’m pretty intuitive and I don’t draw water from dry wells. If I thought that this wasn’t a decent gig with decent people then I wouldn’t be doing it.”
Statement from Natasha Helfer Parker: Mormon Mental Health Podcast Host
“I have been working with the OSF (even before it was formally organized) for about 7 years. And my experience with the OSF and John have been primarily positive. Like any organization and any personal relationships, there will be disagreements and growing opportunities. I have disagreed and bantered with John plenty over the years like any two professionals working together would – and we have been able to resolve and problem solve successfully and often.
Most of the work people have done has been on a volunteer basis. And as a podcaster myself, I signed on full well knowing that it was going to help me more from a marketing opportunity than being paid per hour spent (that was never part of what I negotiated). Which has been the case.
And financial transparency has always been present and a primary goal of the OSF (I was a board member for several years).”
Statement from Dan Wotherspoon: Mormon Matters Podcast Host
“I’m contracted with Open Stories and have always been treated fairly, and I’ve been impressed with its financial transparency. I’ve never heard of work not being paid for.
Like NPR, Open Stories podcasts don’t charge anything to listen to, and don’t host paid advertising. Like NPR, the podcasts rely on the support of donors who value the content. The model change at the end of 2016 was created with absolute fairness in mind, with monies being paid out per episode download. That way it is blind to gender discrimination. There is fairness to a podcast like mine, which I’ve been hosting for 6 1/2 years, as I have a back catalog of now more than 375 episodes that people still discover and download. Those just starting out must expect their audience (downloads) to grow over time, but there is still a guaranteed minimum amount paid for all active podcasts under the umbrella. I’m really pleased with the board of directors and the forward movement of the Open Stories Foundation. There are a lot of things in the works that I’m pleased to be part of.”