Minutes of the Oregon Poetry Association (OPA) Board Meeting of December 15, 2020
The meeting was scheduled to begin at 6:30 pm via Zoom.
Present: Jennifer Rood (President, Historian), Dan Liberthson (Secretary), Rana Tahir (Treasurer), Susan Morse (Assistant Secretary, Fall Adult Poetry Contest Chair), Dave Mehler (Membership Co-chair), Dale Champlin (Newsletter and Verseweavers Editor), Lorna Rose Hahn (Membership Co-Chair, Outreach Chair), Sue Fagalde Lick (Vice-President), Rayn Roberts (At-Large)
Not Present: All were present, though Rayn joined late(7:35) due to car problems.
I. Jennifer called the meeting to order at 6:35.
II. Approval of Minutes
A motion by Dan to accept the November 10, 2020 minutes was seconded and approved unanimously by voice vote.
III. Officer Reports
A. President’s Report (Jennifer Rood)
Jennifer contacted NFSPS to get a password to upload to their website, and will write something for their quarterly report.
B. Vice-President (Sue Lick)
C. Secretary (Dan)
D. Treasurer’s Report (Rana Tahir)
OPA is in strong financial health. Having started the year with a balance of $27,379.56, we have ended the year with a balance of (to date) $42,470.21. Contributing to this total were increased membership, income from Pandemic Anthology entries, and savings from having a virtual rather than an actual Fall conference. Jennifer suggested considering the best ways to spend some of the money. Rana requested that we email her ideas, as she will be doing the budget. Jennifer suggested reinstating the Cascadia student poetry contest and Rana volunteered to investigate whether any rules would prevent using the $50 prize money that the winner of the Verseweavers New Poets contest wants to donate only in aid of student poets, which the donor requests. Jennifer suggested putting on website a notice that we have money available for high school and college student scholarships, and proposed allocating $500. Susan Morse suggested increasing compensation for contest judges. She finds the membership fee description confusing and volunteered to rewrite it for greater clarity, grouping the nonmember and member fees separately. Sue Lick said verification of membership might be added for those who opt to pay the membership rate. Jennifer stated that fees to join and dues must stay the same for now, as they can only be changed by a full membership vote (e.g., at the annual conference).
IV. Committee Reports
A. Membership (Dave Mehler)
Total OPA membership is 318.
B. Contests (Susan Morse)
Susan has been posting some contest poems (one category per week) to the website. WordPress seems to change the format on some poems, and works best on Word files. The winner of the New Poets category wants to donate her $50 prize, which could be applied to something for students.
C. Verseweavers, Pandemic 2020 Anthology, Newsletter (Dale Champlin)
Dale mentioned that she will soon need to pay for Verseweavers and the Pandemic Anthology book printing. There was a discussion about whether to use Submittable for Pandemic Anthology orders, from which we would keep more of the sales price than if we ordered from Amazon. Dave said that to do this we would need someone to monitor Submittable for orders (which he volunteered to do), order appropriate size “clumps” of books for distribution, resend individual books to buyers, and then report the transaction to the treasurer, which would be complicated. Jennifer said that our book costs have already been covered from fees for submission. We could have readings by the poets, virtual for now, and sell books at them. Sue said she would help organize the readings. Dave said it would be nice to donate some copies to libraries. Jennifer noted that the issue is how to make books available to serve the purpose of promoting Oregon poets without creating an onerous workload for the officers. Rana proposed partnering with university presses with which she has interacted to get distribution taken care of, and said she would look into the feasibility of this plan. Sue said we could advertise the Anthology through Submittable and then send copies to people to those who order it. Jennifer suggested getting 20 copies and then seeing where it goes from there. There was further discussion of how many books to order and how to handle sales and distribute the books. Dave offered to check his membership list for volunteers to do fulfillment. He can monitor Submittable for Verseweavers and Pandemic Anthology orders. Jennifer mentioned that old Verseweavers are not in stock anymore but there have been a a few orders that should be fulfilled. Sue and Susan volunteered to mail out books to buyers from lots mailed to them by Dave. Dale will handle orders for contributors to the Anthology, who get free copies, and other orders will go through Sue and Susan.
D. Social media (Lorna Rose Hahn)
Every few days on Twitter and Facebook Lorna posts informational items such as industry and writing news, pictures, inspirational quotes, etc. She asked that we invite friends to “like” the OPA Facebook and Twitter pages and to “follow” them. She put an interview of an OPA member on Facebook, and asked us to send her anything we think would be of interest to members so she can post it. Susan suggested posting an OPA member poem every week. Dale suggested that we put suitable material from the OPA website on Facebook: member news, poems, events, etc. Lorna said that a link to a poem will attract more readers than putting the poem in a post. Rana mentioned that there are now two different places to post events on the website, which could be addressed by the proposed web redesign.
V. Old Business
Dave re-started a discussion about membership renewal that was tabled at the November meeting due to lack of time. Membership renewal now happens in spring (March), so people who join in late summer or fall (August-September), often to get a reduced rate for the annual conference, get only a half-year membership. If we changed renewal to August, Jennifer was concerned that members joining in March similarly get only ½ year for their dues. However, though he has no supporting data, Dave guesses that more people usually join in late summer or fall for the conference, so if we made that the renewal in August fewer people would have truncated membership periods. He suggested that we experiment with changing the renewal push period and getting a count of renewals in March if postcard reminders are not sent. Jennifer wants to continue mailing March reminders, as she fears membership may tank if this is not done. Dave then proposed a motion to make the renewal date Aug 31 for all and send reminder postcards at the end of August, but this motion was not seconded or pursued. He also suggested announcing at the start of year that all those who joined in fall would get another 6 months. Jennifer reiterated that registrants in spring would then be short-changed, so the problem of some getting only 6 months of membership would remain.
In connection with the membership renewal discussion, there was extensive consideration about whether to begin using Wild Apricot database software for tracking membership, which would have the capability to track individual memberships and and thus would allow us to make the membership term one full year for all no matter when they join. Wild Apricot, which could also take care of other functions, costs about $1,000 a year and could be used instead of Mail Chimp and Google, which are free, and Submittable, which is low-cost. Dave made a list of possible pros and cons of Wild Apricot.
Pros: Consolidation of the databases on Google Sheets and Mail Chimp, automated renewals and reminders with the ability to track individual memberships so each member gets a full year’s worth of membership, reduced work load (after set-up) for the board and Membership Chair, replacement of Submittable as a place to do membership and announce events and take payments. Cons: High cost ($90/month or $1,080/year, $81/month or $972/year if 1 year prepaid, $76.50/mo or $972/year if 2 years prepaid), initial set-up work, mailing postcard membership renewal reminders ($250 cost, approximately), Membership Chair’s labor to maintain the database, imperfect yearly scale of membership renewal and annual period of payment per service, possible hidden charges or problems with quality of service.
Lorna mentioned that Wild Apricot could be used for the newsletter and as an online store to sell and distribute books. Dave feels the cost is too high, but mentioned that Mail Chimp has some anomalies, including some people not getting newsletters, and Wild Apricot might improve newsletter distribution. However, he is willing to continue with the status quo (using Mail Chimp, Google, and Submittable) if we decide against Wild Apricot. The matter was then tabled for future discussion.
VI. New Business
Purchasing an external drive was tabled. Jennifer mentioned that we need to start planning for next year’s events. The format of proposed spring conference or seminars was discussed. Dale suggested doing monthly Pandemic Anthology launch readings on Zoom and suggested that OPA subscribe to Zoom. The spring conference could have readings and at least one workshop, but no keynote, and should be in April (National Poetry Month). Jennifer suggested 1-2 workshops in one event or 2 sessions with 2 different leaders one room. Sue, Lorna, Rana, Dale, and others volunteered to give workshops. Dale said she will do a newsletter a day in April as she did last year. Jennifer said we need to talk about bringing back the Cascadia youth contest, which would require 2 people to head it up.
The next board meeting will be Sun, Jan 17, at 3 pm.
VIII. Adjournment. Jennifer adjourned the meeting at 8:38 pm.
Minutes recorded and prepared by Dan Liberthson, Secretary