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Annual report 2007-2008

Introduction

This is a draft of the "2007-2008 Annual report", which will be used for our second GA. Model: last year report: Annual report 2006-2007

This document will try to resume the main part of what we did together during this year. It's a way to share our work to institutions, to keep an archive for the future, and probably to analyse our work with our actual experience!

1. Short history

2. Structural activities

3. The Big Challenge: Building BeWelcome

3.2. The teams

Many teams make sure that the organization is functioning smoothly and most of them are managed by a duo of coordinators. The following list introduces the teams in alphabetical order and outlines their main activities.

  • Acceptation of Members

Some changes were made to the structure. Frank and Ieva are now the team coordinators. The How-to and Templates have been updated and translated into 4 languages. Most of the time accepting is done by a small group of 3 or 4 volunteers. Since these people have access to email addresses of members, we have started preparing non-disclosure agreements. Sign-up has been steadily growing, with peaks when newsletters are sent out or publicity is made in magazines or on TV.

  • Design

The design team forum got quite inactive in the past or team members worked across all teams. The design team wiki needs a cleanup and should be more connected with Media and Communication team. (promotion work) There is a urgent need for an easy file sharing way for files >1 MB. There should be a download kit (styles with template) for an easy way to get started and to play around for newbies. (the barriers are still to high) (crumbking)

  • Forum

The forum has now its rules and regulations online, and we have so far only had to intervene once (just a written warning to the person involved). We still need some extra tools, but the transparency towards the forum users should not be compromised. Forum use is still limited to questions about the use of BeWelcome, but slowly travel questions are poping up.

  • Geography

John and Micha worked on improving the search interface, but there are still some bugs and issues to be dealt with (geography system, multiple languages, manual updates of locations,...). Ideally we need a programmer who can restructure the architecture of this system. There is a how-to in the programmers' wiki.

  • Groups

(Fabian, Patrick)

The last year a lot of brainstorming was done for the group feature. We got some nice drafts for the local group page http://test.bewelcome.org/playground/cities.html and with the improvements of the BeWelcome forum the group team hopes that each group will soon get there own place in the BeWelcome Forum and the drafts for the group pages http://test.bewelcome.org/playground/groups.html, http://test.bewelcome.org/playground/groups_detail.html, http://test.bewelcome.org/playground/groups_detail2.html get implemented soon. Unfortuantelly non of the Group Team Members have been represented on the Unconference in Antwerp in January 2008 so it was not intensively discussed there. The following groups have members: Cooking (99), Photographers (116), Volunteers (68), BeWelcome volunteers (72), Sports (12), Football (26), Rugby (3), Sailors (17), Cyclists (71), Hospitality Club (367), Couch surfing (377), Servas (7), Families (29), BeWelcome Local Volunteers (38), Environmentalists (53), Vegans & Vegetarians (54).

  • Legal

(Pierre-Charles)

The legal team is still in a sleeping mode, and this year did not manage yet to be stronger with a competent member about laws. So the activities were limited in trying to find solutions to pending problems and documenting the others. The process to legalize our database has been started.

  • Local Volunteers

(Pierre-Charles)

After finishing a long work of brainstorming and documentation, it was decided that it's time to give a start to real life community. How to start with "local life" and in which way? We got that the best way is to propose BW members to debate themselves (through BW forum) on which way they want to develop BW local/real life. Some thematic proposals were opened in the forum and debate is still ongoing; coming step is to analyse and summarise them in order to take appropriate measures.

  • Media and Communication

(Currently looking for a coordinator) After a very good start spring and summer 2007 activities stopped just before winter. Main work done were texts for all areas of BW, press releases, the preparation of the promotin campaign in october 07, video of the unconference in Antwerp, documentation and building up of the media team. It is questionable if we need a team structure at all for media and communication or if we follow the task approach i.e. every member can contribute or take over specific tasks through trac without belonging to a specific team.

  • New Features
  • Safety

We had no real abuse cases, just some spammers/scammers, but this stopped after the safety team dealt with it. One potential member was not allowed to register on BW because of his previous problems/abuse reports in other Hospitality Exchange Networks. This member received a detailed explanation why we refused his membership.

  • Server Administration

(some points by Philipp, as there is no coordinator for this team)

Achievements:

  • set up second server
  • installed/configured a hell lot of volunteer tools
  • real https certificate

Things where we failed (as seen by philipp):

  • publishing an emergency plan and contact details
  • documentation
  • backup routines and tests of them
  • move to the new server in reasonable time (not finished after half a year)
  • not enough man power available
  • Software Development

Achievements:

  • going open source
  • rewriting about two thirds of the code to a new framework (myTravelBook)
  • cleanup of the framework
  • powerful new search
  • integration of volunteer tools
  • improved forum
  • improved layout
  • several new developers joined
  • simplified installation and demo application
  • well established bug tracker and developers site
  • easy and sustainable development environment

Ongoing:

  • blogs,meeting,groups,profile,forum,trips,chat,tour

Things where we (philipp) failed:

  • keeping enough volunteers active (lost more than 4 developers)
  • stay focussed, follow community set priorities
  • get important things implemented in time (groups, geo, ...)
  • activate interested volunteers (there are about 20 developers around who never became really active)
  • lost way too much energy for volunteer related (and afterwards not used) stuff (joomla, blogs, ...)
  • long, energy consuming discussions on issues that never got implemented afterwards (openID, import/export, ...)
  • delegating administrative tasks
  • creating a real team spirit
  • documentation
  • Support

(Alban and Claudia)

  • team
During the last period our team has actually started as a team. We have got several new and dedicated volunteers so that now we can cover English, French, German and Spanish as a support team. We also split team coordination between Claudia and Alban.
  • tools
The OTRS is working fine, TRAC has been integrated in our work flow and caused no problems apart from the last weeks. We improved the HOW-TO for the OTRS including screenshots. Some of the templates have already been translated, but more work needs to be done there. For the future it would be desirable to have some way of showing/setting what languages are currently available for support (this should be able to be quite dynamic and flexible, so that requests in a particular language would not have to wait for weeks until the volunteer with that language comes back from travelling)
  • FAQs
We haven't managed yet to regularly check the validity and completeness of our BW FAQs. This will be one the tasks for next year.
  • Testing

The testing team is too small to call it a real team. 2-3 active members try to help whenever they find time with trac tickets (approving, testing, adding info, opening new tickets). Occasionally new members appear but usually move on to software development or translations.

  • Translation

(Irina) The translation team is one of the biggest if not the biggest one currently. As a result we have versions of BW in 26 languages (from 6.2% for Basque to over 80% for Dutch, Lithuanian, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, German, French, English). The main achievements:

  • with the great help of the software development team a very nice and convenient translation tool was created.
  • several languages are covered up to 100%.
  • there is a steady flow of volunteers (thanks to the volunteer management team) including those with 'rare' languages.

The main challenges for the coming year (might be called 'failures of the past year', but I prefer to be more positive:) will be as follows:

  • create an efficient system of informing all translators about news (mailman).
  • ensure fast translation of newsletters and materials like that.
  • provide for a better cooperation between translation and other teams (especially the text team).
  • encourage more discussions in the volunteer forum.
  • Volunteer Management

(Claudia, Florian) Florian: mainly private chats and talks, answering questions and motivating people to get active, remain active or complete specific tasks. Not sure if we need volunteer management as a team - I did not receive any official request by a member through the bw volunteer pages or such. Claudia: mostly work in the OTRS, that is answering official requests of members who would like to volunteer, pointing them to the right team / procedure, finding out what they could contribute. What is lacking at the moment (and should be improved in the future) is a regular exchange with team coordinators about their teams (not only about problems they have to face with the team, but also about who is active who isn't, why and what could be done...) If possible it would even be good to regularly contact each volunteer to see how it is going - but for that we'd really need a team rather than two people dealing with this among other things...

4. Meetings

4.1. Board of Directors

We started off with 9 BoD members and haven't lost any on our way. However, temporary time outs were taken and unfortunately this increased towards the end of this BoD period.

The previous practice of meeting on Skype ever week was changed to a meeting every other week. In between informal admin meetings were held if required. Reports were usually taken by the default moderator. This is not necessary, but it worked well for this period.

Problems

All in all attendance at BoD meetings was problematic, so maybe a better way of working can be found for the future. This years BoD didn't come to a conclusion about how the future BoD should be structured. At the same time, the BoD-members agree that if there is a way for more real life meetings and direct talks, that would definitely be the way to go.

Delegates and tasks

The delegates represent specific areas within the Board of Directors. Some of them are officially required (Executive, Secretary, Treasurer) and the Vice positions support the delegates with specific tasks and general backup. An organisation like BeVolunteer changes fast and some tasks will become more important in the next years. Every year the new elected board of directors will evaluate the delegate positions and change them if necessary. Read more about the board of directors in the official statutes.

The tasks in detail

Executive (Frank)

The Executive Delegate holds the power of representation and signature in the name of the association, represents the association in all the acts of civil or administrative life, and in justice, if necessary. The Executive Delegate represents the executive organ of the association (BoD), and so can not take a decision without the validation of the BoD. In case of temporary or permanent incapacity, the Executive delegate is temporarily replaced by a vice-Executive delegate, or the Secretary Delegate, who in this case holds the same powers, until the BoD names a new Executive Delegate.

Keywords:

  • legal representative of the organisation
  • official spokesperson of the organisation

In the past period Frank took over important communication with other networks or official requests.

Vice Executive (Florian)

The vice executive acts as a link between the communication team (which might focus on internal communication and media relations) and the executive tasks of officially representing the organisation. He also helps with public relations, i.e. opinion scanning and acting as contact person for other organisations and institutions. In addition, the vice executive may also assist with every day tasks of executive delegate. He is NOT acting as executive in case the executive delegate resigns or is unavailable, in this case the Secretary delegate has the legal and official obligation to represent the organisation.

Keywords:

  • Contact person for Organisations and Institutions
  • Communicator and here for your questions about the organisation
  • Link between BoD and BeWelcome team(s)

In the past period Florian worked on issues like the BW and the BV mission statements as well as newsletters.

Secretary (Pierre-Charles)

See also Secretariat

The secretary is in charge of all correspondence and the archives. The Secretary Delegate is helped in his tasks by the assistant secretary (vice secretary) if there is one. They draft the minutes of the meetings. In case of absence, they are replaced by a member of the BoD.

Keywords:

  • documentation: make public, archive, sort
  • informs volunteers, collects important news for newsletter
  • works closely together with pr and communications team

In the past period this work consisted mostly of keeping track of current discussions, trying to find a conclusion and document this.

Vice Secretary (Claudia)

Supports and helps secretary - will be secretary in case the actual secretary resigns or is unavailable

In the last period this involved keeping track of current discussions, trying to find a conclusion and document this and bein the default moderator.

Treasurer (Jean-Yves)

See also Finances

The treasurer is in charge of the management of the patrimony of the association. The treasurer makes any payments and receives any revenue under the supervision of the Executive delegate, keeps a regular account of all transactions and reports to the BoD which verifies the management of the finances. In case of absence, the treasurer is replaced by a member of the BoD.

Keywords:

  • manages finances
  • manages donations: work together with legal team
  • prepares a clear financial statement for the General Assembly 2007

In the past period the donation process has been set up including a donation bar, visible on the main page of BeWelcome.

Vice Treasurer (Micha)

Supports and helps treasurer - will be treasurer in case the actual treasurer resigns or is unavailable

In the past period the donation process has been set up including a donation bar, visible on the main page of BeWelcome.

points the BoD had to deal with in the last period (apart from the ones described above)

  • financial situation: ads or not, alternatives; domain names, servers etc.
  • situation of teams that lack active volunteers / coordinators
  • conflicts between volunteers / teams
  • brainstorm on specific BW issues and taking those ideas in the forums / teams
  • checking / discussing the consequences of requested changes (e.g. open Wiki)

4.2. Special meetings

4.3. The GA

Annual_report_2007-2008