2. Institutionalizing the VOPE

Section 2 contains information relevant to running the business side of the VOPE, and institutionalizing it. 

Click the topic header to access additional information and a rich set of resources.

The topics covered in this section include:

An annual report is a comprehensive report of an organization’s activities throughout the preceding year. Annual reports are intended to give stakeholders and other interested people information about the organization's activities and financial performance. It may also serve to share the plans and focus areas for the next year, or update the vision as it was captured in the organization’s plans.

Setting up a listserv (mailing list) is one of the easiest and most cost effective (read free) start-up requirements of a VOPE. Mailing lists are popular because VOPE members access and pass on information via their email, a medium that most people are comfortable with. The drawback with a typical listserv is that you are not always able to search for information as easily (it comes down to searching through a ton of email).

In many instances, a VOPE’s website is its flagship product. It is usually a good idea to start off with a page that meets your basic needs and then add additional modules to the site as your VOPE matures and gains additional resources

Social media is a great, cost-effective way of disseminating your content and creating increased visibility for your VOPE. There are several types of social media to choose from, including blogs (e.g. WordPress), microblogging (e.g. Twitter, Weibo), social networks (most notably Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn), media/photo sharing (e.g. Youtube, Flickr, Pinterest; Instagram), social news (e.g. Reddit, Digg and Leakernet), mobile applications (e.g. WhatsApp), wikis (Wikipedia, Wikia), document repositories (e.g. Scribd, Doocu), online magazines (e.g. Paper.li, Issuu, Flipboard, Rebelmouse) and bookmarking sites (e.g. StumbleUpon; Delicious).

A VOPE is usually governed by a volunteer Board or Governing Body as set out in the constitution of a VOPE. This Board may have multiple roles.

Many existing VOPEs make allowances for more than one type of member and differentiate the membership fees (if applicable) and benefits according to the membership type.

This section shares some ideas about how a VOPE could run its process for the nominating, voting and appointing of Board members, with some suggestions regarding software that could be used, as well as some examples of how VOPEs have done this previously.

Managing the finances of a VOPE in a transparent and responsible manner is imperative.

VOPEs may need to register as a non-profit corporation/organization with the relevant revenue services or state authorities. A non-profit organization does not usually pay income taxes on profits, though there may be certain exceptions.

A good financial policy should be easy to understand, flexible, developed by involving employees and other stakeholders as well as easy to implement and administer. It is imperative for a VOPE to practise sound financial management in the most efficient way possible since VOPEs generally do not have the personnel to maintain and work with complicated financial systems.

A budget is simply an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time. This financial document is used to project future income and expenses and provides an estimate of whether the VOPE can continue to operate with its projected income and expenses.

Many VOPEs choose to manage some of the finance management tasks internally, but outsource accounting and auditing services to specialists. The management of the accounting and audit service providers will be more effective if you have your VOPE's expectations defined and communicated before engaging with specific service providers. This can be achieved by documenting the roles, responsibilities and structure of the Financial and Audit committees. Include this in the VOPE’s financial policies and procedures

"The financial statements(orfinancial report) are a formal record of the financial activities of a business, person, or other entity. The financial policy and procedure manual of your organization will specify when and how the financial report is published and presented to stakeholders. Relevant financial information is presented in a structured manner and in a form easy to understand.

The VOPE should provide secure and user-friendly options for members to pay their membership fees, and for special events and services such as conferences. Payments could be taken in cash, by bank deposit, via electronic funds transfers, via credit or debit card, or via electronic payment sites such as PayPal.

Once your VOPE receives membership fees, it is vital to allocate the payment to the correct member account and ensure the member is flagged as an active member and gains access to all of the member benefits. The payment transaction details, such as payment date and amount should be stored on your database to ensure a membership renewal notice is created when the membership of this particular member expires.

The procurement process involves managing a variety of activities, including ordering, receipt, review, approval of items from suppliers, endorsing supplier payments and managing suppliers against their contracts. Although supplier relationships might be less important for a VOPE, procurement procedures should specify how you manage these relationships, to ensure a high level of service is received. It is advisable to start off with developing and streamlining the procedures and policies relating to purchases in the VOPE’s Financial Management policies and procedures document.

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