Financial transparency of the itSMF: let's have some.
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The IT Skeptic estimates itSMF International, the "not-for-profit" governing body separate from the 40+ local chapters but owned by the members, turns over somewhere approaching a million dollars annually. They do this without any public reporting of their finances, as far as I can tell.
5% of itSMF local chapters' income goes to itSMFI, though certain chapters are holding out on paying. Let's do some beer-coaster maths shall we? 40 chapters worldwide. USA has 7000 members, my country has 400. Looking at the list of chapters, I'm guessing at least ten of them have a thousand members, and lets say the other thirty at 200 each. All pretty conservative numbers: that gives us 7000 + 10*1000 + 30*200 = 23,000 members. According to one source there are 75,000 members. Let's spilt the difference at 50,000. Say average dues US$100 each that's $5M. Then chapters have additional revenue from sponsorship, book sales, conferences etc. Let's say 50% more again, conservative extimate $7M. So thats .05*$7M = $350k, say somewhere between $200k and $500k per annum from the chapters.
In addition there are 8 global members at $40,000 each, so there's another $320k - no wonder they have a global membership drive on right now offering 30% discount on V3 publications (ask about getting a 30% discount for your local chapter or - gasp - even for yourself as a member... and see what happens). [Incidentally if a global member takes a 100-user licence of V3 this discount represents about $20k. As regular members they would have got half that, so they get about 25% of their dues back in extra discounts alone and the local chapters lose all that revenue. Actually not all, 20% of global members' fees supposedly flows back to local chapters somehow, to compensate them for the fact that a number of local staff of global members get free membership. That's right: itSMFI collects the revenue while the local chapters carry the cost of servicing their staff.]
In addition itSMFI is entering into paid contracts to do ITIL V3 translation, book publishing, and other commercial ventures, revenue unknown.
I would estimate itSMFI revenues at half a million to a million dollars a year. That's not small change. So here's my questions:
1) itSMFI is required to file annual audited accounts in the UK but that does not constitute transparency. The 2006 annual report has been posted on the itSMFI website. This is an excellent indication of itSMFI activities and the Board are to be commended for posting it. But there is no financial information. What were the revenue and expenses? How was money made and where was it spent? What was the breakdown across administrative services, travel, legal services, and consulting services? A not unreasonable question to guys spending several hundred thousand dollars of our money per year.
2) What is itSMFI doing to promote itSMF worldwide (as distinct from ITIL), and specifically what services are provided to local chapters when starting up? Do they get seed funding? Mentoring? Constitution, processes, website or other templates drawn from the IP of 40 member chapters? Web hosting services? The annual report indicates that this is an area that fell behind. What will be provided to a new one today?
3) What is itSMFI doing to govern itSMF worldwide? What oversight is there of the affairs of chapters? What accountability is there to the centre? What steps has itSMFI taken to provide independent audit or governance of the election problem at itSMF USA to protect the itSMF brand internationally?
4) How and when is the annual meeting announced, in particular calls for nomination? Are there minutes of previous meetings? Who is eligible to stand? For that matter where is the itSMFI constitution / bylaws / operating rules published?
5) What role does itSMFI play in giving itSMF members "a unified voice"? [Note: this is a phrase which has suddenly appeared in a FAQ on the website, but still does not rate a mention in the objectives. We'll get there....] itSMFI is represented on a number of bodies, but how does itSMFI communicate with its constituents? When will direct forms of communication such as a forum be implemented?
Whilst this article is focused on itSMFI, take a look at your local chapter of itSMF and ask the same questions, substituting "locally" for "worldwide". If you are not happy about the answers, start asking the questions out loud: where's the report? What do we get for our money?
Or of course you could just continue to hand over the money and take whatever you are given.