2018 Rise Up Financials Recap

Updated: Feb 14, 2019

In June of last year, I registered a new non-profit corporation with the State of Washington, opened a bank account for the organization, and re-organized the Belltown community work I'd been doing for the previous two years into what is now the entity known as "Rise Up Belltown."

As your friends with non-profit experience may tell you, the tax-exempt application process with the IRS can be a long (and expensive) process. That's why individual donations are not yet tax-deductible, though fortunately we're well on our way toward making that happen in 2019, thanks to the community support we've built so far. In the meantime, even though we don't have our "official status", I'm publishing this financial recap in the interest of transparency and at the request of members from the community.

Thank you to all the specific Belltown community members who have asked me for this recap in the past days and months. It's nice to know there are people out there who care about what we're doing.

Below, you will find an overview of Rise Up Belltown's 2018 financials, including a narrative description of our income and expenses. Additional levels of detail are also available to all members of the BOAT. Please contact us to make your request.

Total 2018 Income: $10,722.88

In 2018, Rise Up Belltown received income from 3 Key Sources:

1. Contributions from local businesses

2. Contributions from individuals

3. Contributions at our inaugural event

Meanwhile I've grouped our expenses into 3 Key Categories:

1. Staffing

2. Basic Operations

3. Community Programs

Total 2018 Staffing Costs: $0.00

Rise Up is still entirely volunteer-run, but I have left this section included in our budgets because if Rise Up is going to be successful, I believe it's essential to understand the actual labor costs of running it, even when those costs are donated as in-kind contributions.

To provide some context, as Rise Up Belltown's principal organizer, I (Evan Clifthorne) have volunteered between 15 - 25 hours per week over about 28 weeks between June 1st and the end of the year (not counting 2 full weeks I was away). If those hours are averaged as 20h/week, and calculated at the bare minimum cost of an organizer ($15/h), that would be equivalent to an $8,400 in-kind contribution to Rise Up Belltown.

To be clear, this doesn't even begin to calculate the in-kind value of the several volunteers who helped at our kick-off event, and throughout the remainder of the year.

Lessons for 2019: we will absolutely need additional volunteer support, or we would need to raise additional resources to hire community organizers, as suggested in the Rise Up Welcome Books. Fortunately, during the lead-up and hosting of our first 2019 event (Rise Up Winter) we saw a dramatic increase in community volunteering and involvement.

Total 2018 Basic Operations Costs: $3,090.33

I've categorized our basic operations costs into these key areas:

- Workspace Rent (we have a desk at Makers Workspaces, in Belltown)

- Insurance (event insurance coverage)

- Bank Fees

- Licenses & Permits (e.g. our live tattooing permit)

- Technology Costs

- Organizer Travel (mostly bikeshare, some rideshare)

- Supplies & Administrative (e.g. printer ink, stamps, paper, & more)

Lessons for 2019: average monthly operations costs may be higher in 2019, as several months of rent in 2018 were donated in-kind. However, it may be possible to find a more affordable location if there is insufficient income to cover costs. Bank fees might also be reduced by relocating the account to a credit union.

Total Community Programs Costs: $6,801.85

Our community programs fall into 4 key areas:

- Digital Promotions (primarily using social media)

- Promotional Materials (posters, handbills, t-shirts, &c.)

- Face-to-Face Organizing (outreach costs during interviews, political meetings, press meetings, and other in-person organizing)

- Community Showcase Events (the costs of the events themselves)

Lessons for 2019: Digital promotions have been exceptionally effective, so it's likely that we'll see a bigger share of resources in that category going forward. We also expect to host a community showcase event once per season, which would increase events costs significantly. Regarding promotional materials, it's clear that we need to increase the range and type of printed materials that we invest in, to include stickers or other creative approaches to grassroots messaging.

Total carry-over to 2019: $830.70

This one is pretty straightforward. This is what was left at the end of the year. We'll do financial recaps for 2019 separately, but it's fair to say that these resources went directly into making Rise Up Winter happen. Please let us know if you have questions.

Personal Financial Disclosure:

I've received a number of requests from community members for more information about my personal financial relationship with Rise Up Belltown so, in the interest of community transparency, below I'm providing what I hope is more clarity about my family's personal contributions,

During 2018, Alex and I made a $400 cash donation, as well as paying for a $300 tattooing permit for the main event, and two months of rent at $280/month. That makes for a total of at least $1,260 that we have contributed financially to Rise Up Belltown. I confess I haven't tracked every incidental that we've paid for, but these are at least the major ones.

We are investing in Belltown, because we believe that we still have have a chance to change the direction of displacement in the community we love. Together, we could work with our neighboring communities throughout Seattle to put an initiative on this year's ballot. Or we could make sure we elect a Council Member who believes in our cause. Or, ideally, we could do both. In the end, it's up to all of us.

Thank you to all the specific Belltown community members who asked for this recap: it's fantastic to have other humans who are concerned for the well-being of our community. I am making additional levels of detail available to all members of the BOAT, though I ask that you please contact us to make a request.

Would you like to help shape these kinds of strategic financial decisions? That's awesome! Get on the BOAT, and join the CREW on the Resources Team. We'd love to have you! :)