Transition of Leadership
The current Executive Director has indicated his desire to retire at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year. In order to ensure the continuity of the WI Sustainable Business Council, the Green Masters Program, the Annual Conference and other activities of the Council, the board has issued a Request for Proposals to host the WI Sustainable Business Council and to maintain or expand upon its current activities.
Proposals need to
Describe how the Council would fit within your organization.
Describe the support (resources, facilities, people and/or financial) that is available within your organization for the Council.
Indicate how you would provide the services the Council is currently providing.
Include a marked up copy of a Contract that would exist between the two organizations.
**Download Required Documents**
If an organization (academic or non-for-profit) is interested in hosting the Council, they should submit a Proposal by April 30th:
Proposals may be submitted to the WI Sustainable Business Council by hard or soft copy (i.e. electronically or via mail) as follows:
For hard-copy Expressions of Interest:
WI Sustainable Business Council
Attn: Tom Eggert
5810 Idledale Circle
Madison, WI 53711
For soft-copy Expressions of Interest (in pdf format):
(Please include in the Subject Line – Expression of Interest)
The Conference Call for parties interested in submitting a proposal was held Tuesday, April 24th. During the conference call, Tom was asked for the following information:
2017 Conference Kohler 258
2016 Conference LaCrosse 253
2015 Conference Oshkosh 274
2014 Conference Milwaukee 353
2013 Conference Dodgeville 335
Green Masters Program Participants:
The text from the email to new board members:
"I wanted to follow up on your interest in a position on the Council's Board of Advisors.
As you may know, we have 12 advisers, and they are broken into 3 groups of 4 advisers each. Each group serves a staggered 3 year term. One group of four has their terms ending at the end of the year.
Expectations of the board include attending (either in person or by phone) 3 meetings during the year plus the annual conference. In addition, there may be some requests for assistance or guidance that I send out occasionally throughout the year. However, I understand that you are all very busy people, so I have not asked for much.
All board members are asked to bring their companies into the Green Masters Program.
In addition, each board member is responsible for securing sponsorship dollars for our annual conference from their company. The sponsorship commitment is $5,000 annually. I would need this money in early fall to help cover pre-conference costs. In reality, the sponsors’ money mainly goes to offset the costs of having students attend the conference and for running the Green Masters Program.
I look forward to receiving proposals next week.
Recently Asked Questions
Would the WSBC accept a joint proposal from two organizations who would partner to provide the programs and services outlined in Attachment A to the RFP?
In terms of funding, can the council continue to fund a PA and part of a new director's time, as it did in the past?
What if any costs to the host institution?
WSBC has never sought or accepted grants. WSBC has never provided consulting services to businesses (there have been many asks). WSBC has never charged for webinars or developed additional revenue-generating events. All are possible new revenue sources for a new Executive Director.
We understand that the WSBC is currently staffed by the Executive Director and a Project Assistant and that undergraduate students provide significant support for coordinating the annual conference and preparing the State of Wisconsin Sustainability Report. Could you please advise regarding whether the Executive Director and Project Assistant roles are full-time or part-time positions?
The Executive Director is an uncompensated part-time position. The Project Assistant is a 1/3rd time Project Assistant position (through the UW).
If the positions are part-time, could you please indicate the hours per week (or year) that are assumed for each role?
Over the course of a year, Tom averages 10+ hours/week, with much higher totals in the 2 months leading up to the December conference. The Project Assistant averages 12 – 15 hours per week.
For each role, please provide an estimate of the percentage of time spent on various tasks over the course of the year (ex. Green Masters administration, conference organizing, report preparation, outreach, etc.).
Are there assumptions, policies, or other considerations, that would limit the ability of the host organization to earn revenue by selling products and services to members of the Board of Advisors, Green Masters participants, or other program participants?
I don’t know that I fully understand the question, but it would be up to the new Executive Director, the current board and the hosting organization to develop appropriate policies or other considerations.
Would the host organization be allowed to earn a surplus through its role in hosting the WSBC?
This would be up to the host organization and the board.
The Request for Expressions of Interest uses the phrase, “house or host the WSBC.” What does the WSBC view as the distinction between an organization housing the WSBC and an organization hosting the WSBC?
Housing the organization is viewed as adopting the organization and bringing it entirely in-house. This would be akin to a buyout in the private sector. The brand “WI Sustainable Business Council” would continue to exist, but there would be no independent organization any longer. The current board would probably no longer exist.
Hosting the organization implies that the organization still independently exists, and still would seek guidance and direction from the current board. It would exist as an independent part of the hosting organization (much like the current arrangement with the Nelson Institute at the UW).
What does ‘house/host’ mean? Do we just need to provide space for meetings/events, or would we have to run their events for them as well? I'm envisioning some staff time here from our end to help organize key events and programs, but perhaps the internal capacity of WSBC is such that I wouldn't have to bring additional staff time to the table.
The "Background" section of the RFP states that the WSBC has operated at a surplus; however the 2017 financial statement attached to the RFP shows a $20,700.42 loss. Could you please clarify these two statements?
The conference expenses increased significantly from 2015, when they were $9,677.75, to 2017, when they were $39,290.33. Could you please provide context for this increase and advise regarding any changes that may affect future trends in conference costs.
If the WSBC is not a legal entity, could you please clarify the mechanism through which it would execute the proposed contract with the host organization?
In the first paragraphs of the RFP it states: “The purpose of the Council is to increase awareness about sustainability through education, networking, an annual conference and mentorship opportunities that allow the sharing of information. Notably, the Council is not an advocacy organization.”
The statement seems remarkably neutral as compared to statements on the website that suggest WSBC wants to encourage businesses to be more sustainable, not to just build awareness. For example, under About Us: “The council is designed to bring businesses together and provide resources to help businesses on their path toward being more sustainable.”
Is this a deliberate shift in emphasis or was the aim to convey that WSBC would not engage in lobbying activities? The use of the term “advocacy” is confusing since I'd categorize all of what WSBC does as a form of advocacy, showcasing the advantages of sustainability to business leaders (and policy leaders for that matter).
The Green Masters program uses a web-based platform to collect data and report results. Please provide a description of the programming languages used and the current data storage framework. Will all historic data be transferred to the new host? What level of data security is required to ensure participant confidentiality? What level of IT and programmatic support does this system typically require on an annual basis and how is that workload distributed in comparison to the conference?
Attachment A references a spring event and the annual conference without specifying a timeframe for the conference. Is the conference timeframe flexible or is that required to be in December?
Associated with the timing of the conference is a cash-flow issue. While WSBC revenue has exceeded expenses every year but 2017, the cash flow seems more complicated. About 90% of revenue occurs in November and December from the annual conference - which means that a host, particularly in the early years, needs to leverage other resources to fund WSBC activities for most of the year. Is this an accurate representation of the financial picture? Do you want us to specifically address how we'll handle cash flow in our budget or discussion of financial commitment?
How many case studies have been created annually in the last few years? Were those produced by staff or by students in one or more courses?
Can you explain the relationship with the UW Foundation?
I notice there is a small salaries and wages section - to whom and for what services does this go?
These are the costs to the Council of having Cool Choices function as our fiscal agent.
I do not see any accounting fees. Is Cool Choices donating those services? There is no in-kind showing this on the P&L.
We do not maintain separate books from those of Cool Choices, so the accounting fees are rolled into the fees paid by Cool Choices.
Is the website on a private server, UW servers, or hosted on a shared hosting service?
The website is hosted on GoDaddy and is designed in WIX.
Qualtrics - As UW Madison may not continue to host/sponsor WSBC though your job, Qualtrics will have to be purchased. Can you find out from Qualtrics what an account will cost to host the green masters survey and WSBCs other surveys. They give me the run around with a non-quote of starting with the low thousands. Last I checked 4 years ago, it was like $10k/yr
Are there any other services/benefits being provided by UW Madison or Cool Choices or other sources that will have to be paid for under new hosting arrangements? And what will be their cost in time or money?
There are no additional services or benefits being provided by UW Madison or Cool Choices.
It states that despite the $10k to Kohler in cost sharing, the remaining cost $29K in 2017 Conference expenses were comparable with previous year. This does not appear to be the case. Conference costs in the previous years averaged to $11,652: (2014 $11k; 2015 $10k; 2016 $14K). 2017, minus the $10K, at $29,290 is still 2.5 times the average of the previous years. If just looking at 2016, it is twice the expense. What was the source of the 100% increase in cost. The fewer number of attendees should have decreased expenses. If that is not the case, please explain.
Please break down the sponsorship model.
Each of the Advisors to the WI Sustainable Business Council is asked to provide $5,000 annually as a sponsorship commitment for the Conference. In addition, we solicit limited additional sponsorships of $5,000.
In FAQ #11 It is stated that each advisory company contributes $5k in sponsorship for the conference. That amounts to $60,000 assuming they are all paying at that level. My understanding is that they do not all pay that, some considerably less. Where does the extra sponsorship money come from and do they come with any additional expectations.
All advisors are asked to pay the same amount. In some cases, we accept services in lieu of payment. As stated above, the extra sponsorship money comes from a select group of other sponsors. All sponsors are offered an opportunity to display at the conference, offered 5 free tickets to the conference, and a generous package of publicity.
Where did the extra $20k in corporate contributions come from in 2017 and with what expectations? How are they different from sponsorship?
See above. For bookkeeping purposes, we treated Kohler’s payment of $20,000 of the costs at the American Club as an in-kind contribution, so our books both reflect revenue and costs that balance out.
As written in the RFP, it sounds like none of the money WSBC earns, has in reserves, or will be allocated by the board can be used to pay for for-profit use. Non-profits regularly pay for services and consulting from for profit entities. If a for profit is administering the council as a hired executive/consultant, this should feasible.
This is beyond our ability to answer and you would need to consult with your accountant.
How is this new mentoring program being managed and are there any additional costs associated with it? What is the time requirement of leadership to manage it?
The Program Assistant is currently managing this program as part of his on-going responsibilities for the Green Masters Program. There are no additional costs. Time requirements to date have been minimal (less than an hour on average per week).
When is the Skype conference call scheduled for early April?
The Skype conference call is currently scheduled for April 24th.
The RFP indicates the WSBC board would control the asset balance of the WSBC, for the first 5 years. We think we understand the intent, you don’t want someone to raid the cash drawer and put the organization at risk, but would like some clarity on how you and the board see this working.
Can you provide an estimate of what the fund balance will be when the books are closed at the end of 2018? There was a transfer of $100,000 to the UW Foundation in 2017. Are there more special or unique cost anticipated or planned?
We are trying to estimate any additional cost for technology that is currently provide by the University. Are there programs or platforms (Qualtrics?) and others that are provided by the University that we will need to acquire?
The website for the conference is hosted on GoDaddy. Qualtrics is the historic survey software that we have used for the Green Masters Program, but any survey software could be used for the Green Masters Program. The costs for Qualtrics for a non-profit should be less than for the general public. I have seen estimates between $299/year and $5,000/year.
We are currently engaged with our legal and accounting advisors, while we are working to an April 30 submission, would an extension be provided if needed?
Because of the late date of the Skype conference, we are extending the due date to May 4th.