Mon 12 Mar 2018 7:42PM

Short Term Assistance Funding via MNA

JO Jonathan Ogden Public Seen by 386

I often see neighbors in a tough spot reaching out for assistance via Facebook groups or personal pages, the Neighborhood Association board oversees a fairly substantial account that has been accrued with neighbor donations and fundraising.

Typically this is used to cover event costs and services used by the board to maintain the enterprise, but I would like to see the utility of these funds expand to short-term assistance funding for members of the General Membership.

I've not fleshed out the legality, but there are a number of options for a 501c3 to be able to disperse funds, so I'm sure with the proper legal oversight it could be accomplished in some way (whether through donation or "employee payment".

This would also facilitate the push for all of the financial records of the MNA board transactions to be publicly available online (I believe this is happening soon if not already on the main site). All data would be available to the membership, i.e. available funds, costs, and current applications/purposes (priority could be given through proof of circumstances, i.e. SNAP or other low income programs).

The idea would be that an online platform or similar (like this one) would be used to seek a percentage approval for the dispersal of the funds where the general membership would democratically vote as to whether they think the dispersal is legitimate. Obviously this may need to have a special circumstance for emergency funding, but this can be addressed after the concept has gained approval.

The intent of this kind of program would be to help prevent displacement and houselessness at its source, which is often the result of too many bills too quickly (sudden sickness, injury, death in the family, etc.).

Is this something that would be feasible with this Association?


Benjamin Kerensa Mon 12 Mar 2018 7:59PM

The simple answer is you cannot because giving grants to people in hardship is not a purpose of the MNA. Also MNA Members can only vote on two things 1. Electing and removing board members and 2. Amending the bylaws (the articles of incorporation list what members can vote on). Allowing any other votes can also subject the MNA to losing its insurance coverage as insurers will not cover organizations that let their members make decisions beyond bylaws and election and removals.

The membership is not allowed to vote on anything else. You could consult SEUL they exist so you can float ideas like this off them and get technical assistance and advice.


Jonathan Ogden Mon 12 Mar 2018 8:04PM

Sure, but that's per the bylaws which are subject to the desires of gen. membership, whereby the purpose of this thread is to catalog what level of support the engaged membership has for such an idea (before taking up SEUL's time).

Your points about the current state aren't relevant to the proposed future state, moving on.


Benjamin Kerensa Mon 12 Mar 2018 8:24PM

It’s very clear you don’t understand how things work you’ve been citing statutes that deal with public bodies which the MNA is not. You clearly don’t understand that NA’s bylaws are subject to rules ONI sets and the MNA’s currently adopt the latest bylaws templates. And frankly it’s clear you didn’t sincerely have any interest in working on the focus area neighborhood associations work on but instead want to duplicate the work of other nonprofits with focus areas on the topics you are coming up with.

You guys can’t even get financial reports done and are spending money left and right without prior board authorization and you expect the membership to trust you administering a grant program? 😂


Jonathan Ogden Mon 12 Mar 2018 8:30PM

Says the guy who just sued the association to settle a debt of ~$13.50 or something...

Paying you out on that was really necessary, talk about good use of funds, amirite?

Also if you spent as much time making proposals as you did mudslinging you might have actually gotten something done during your time on the board.

Also the idea wouldn't be duplicating efforts (not sure how you arrived there), but networking the great non-profits we have in the neighborhood together through a platform that lets them interface with neighbors, i.e. what the MNA could do is assist in coordinating folks to those services at the very least, the world is an oyster or whatever, right?


Benjamin Kerensa Mon 12 Mar 2018 8:34PM

It was a board approved expense so of course that’s proper. I asked for reimbursement and your uninformed Vice Chair refused and said it was invalid despite minutes being provided and multiple former board members telling her it was valid.


Benjamin Kerensa Mon 12 Mar 2018 8:39PM

I’m not mudslinging I’m asking you to follow the same rules every board before you has.

Are you joking? I got tons accomplished during my time on the board.

  • pedestrian improvements on Glisan (three new crosswalks and lane diet)
  • pedestrian improvements on 82nd (two new crosswalks)
  • I did our National Night Outs
  • Hundreds of hours in meetings with neighbors address livability issues
  • Raised thousands of dollars
  • Funded grants for projects
  • Helped found the Montavilla Jazz Fest ( was a project of the MNA that got incubated)
  • Partnered with our diverse neighbors

The list goes on

You have no clue champ


Jonathan Ogden Mon 12 Mar 2018 8:48PM

I don't really care to engage this argument anymore, but there's quite a bit of debatable content there. Great job though.


Kevin Provost Mon 12 Mar 2018 8:53PM

Benjamin is right, here. I love the enthusiasm, but it's just a fart in the breeze if the MNA can't function according to the purposes and rules that already exist. An NA is not a financial assistance program, but there are many of those. Why not just hold a vote on whether to transfer the MNA's account balance (which is an unknown figure because the required financial reports have not been done since the contested election last year) to a program that's set up to do what you're proposing?


Jonathan Ogden Mon 12 Mar 2018 8:58PM

Sure, that's completely fair. Also we're looking to just host our Quickbooks reports live on the web to alleviate this issue. We strive for full transparency, and are finally getting some tools to do that.

To your point of what to do, this is the exact purpose of this thread: what do interested neighbors think is the best course of action? Be a stop-gap for the existing services that (extremely often) have very long waiting lists or minimal funding? Simply act as supplementary coordination for different info?

The ideas can go on and on, let's agree on some viable ones.

I also contest that they MNA has ever "fulfilled its purpose" as many of these NAs are hamstrung with good intention but actually impractical bylaw requirements (I do ISO audits for a living, so I'm pretty aware of the commercial version of this problem).


Kevin Provost Mon 12 Mar 2018 9:33PM

I'm no expert, but in my opinion the MNA should communicate existing solutions to neighbors and facilitate discussion. Any decision to adopt action initiatives should include a hand-off to the appropriate, outside group - which may just be volunteers from within the MNA.

Relationships and synapses with those other groups should be the fundamental purpose of the MNA. To do that, the MNA must avoid becoming one or many of those other groups. It's not a fund, a bank, or a charity, but it can support all of those by connecting neighbors to existing groups, by identifying needs, and by using its voice to represent what it's hearing from neighbors (though the Board should not presume to speak for the neighborhood).

Jonathan, you're saying that the MNA's stated purpose could be changed to accommodate ideas like short-term assistance for neighbors. In my opinion, it's such a fundamental change that MNA would become something other than a neighborhood association.

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