This is a motion that defines NCF’s focus in 2001. Defining a focus is powerful because it can be the foundation for budget planning, it can guide staff and supporters who work with NCF, and it can as a reference point for decision-making. When NCF’s board declares a focus for NCF in 2001, supporters can confidently tell others what NCF wishes to achieve in 2001.
This annual statement of focus is one of the major ways the board meets its responsibility to communicate with members and supporters. This motion is part of fulfilling the board roles described in the YMCA/United Way Board Development material (‘go board’, menu item 1) as “Promotes the organization in the community” and “Interprets the community to the organization”.
NCF’s focus in 2001 is based on:
1) NCF’s mission statement and traditions
2) Current wishes of members (who are NCF’s owners) and potential members
1) NCF’s mission statement is:
The National Capital FreeNet is a free, computer-based information sharing network. It links the people and organizations of this region, provides useful information, and enables an open exchange of ideas with the world. Community involvement makes FreeNet an important and accessible meeting place, and prepares people for full participation in a rapidly changing communications environment.
2) Current wishes of NCF’s member-owners and potential members
Information collected from a survey of NCF’s members (owners) in February 2000 (http://www.ncf.ca/ncf/survey/) and from other sources indicates that NCF’s member-owners are diverse, but there are large numbers who are thought to want one or more of the following:
· Most member-owners want NCF to continue in its niche as a low-cost, fair value internet service provider, and generally accept that this means less than state-of-the-art equipment and less than commercial grade services.
· Most member-owners want reliable dial-up access (no busy signals, no interruptions, no time limits), but recognize that low-cost implies possible modem-sharing at peak periods. 33.6 modems or better.
· Most existing members and probably all new members want PPP (which enables most internet services), but one or two thousand existing members still want text (and FreePort-based services).
· All the standard PPP-based internet services, such as web browsing, email, personal names, instant messaging, streaming media, newsgroups, etc.
· Storage for personal web pages and files.
· No advertising, spam.
· New services such as advertising-free POP email or webmail (ie., mail services from NCF without using NCF's modems).
· Improvements of NCF's "people-helping-people".
· A place to become involved in the community by discussion in a public forum.
· A place to collaborate (private, with friends, or publicly), eg., file exchange, instant messaging, directory services for net meetings or voice over IP.
· The ability to use software packages over the network without having them installed on one’s own computer (“Thin Client” ASP project)
Organizational Tone and Image:
· Most member-owners want a good atmosphere online (in newsgroups, web pages, instant messaging, etc).
· Most member-owners want to be part of (a member of) an organization perceived to be "good" and "reputable". To be proud of (or at least not embarrassed by) being part of NCF. To be proud of an email address or home page linking the member to NCF. To be part of an organization that has a reputation for "doing good things".
· To feel like their donation is well-spent and deserved. To feel good about donating.
· To feel that NCF provides people with an opportunity to volunteer, thereby improving their skills and being an avenue for social contribution. To feel that their contributions are effective, appreciated and rewarding.
Combining the above list of owner desires with NCF’s mission, a theme to guide NCF’s planning and supporters in 2001 is:
NCF’s focus in 2001 is to provide its members with
reliable low-cost dialup access to
basic internet services, and to
organize help for people new to using the internet.
“Reliable low-cost dial-up access” means modems that are available (not busy) and provide functional connectivity, either PPP or text. Keeping costs low helps reduce the “Digital Divide”. To keep costs low, NCF generally operates access technologies that are two or three years behind state-of-the-art (eg., 33.6K modems instead of 56K) and promotes resource sharing (eg., modem sharing) so that more people can get benefits from existing equipment. Among NCF’s corporate sponsors are commercial ISPs, who are pleased to help NCF by equipment donations, etc.
“Basic internet services” include web browsing, email (client-based or browser-based), web page hosting, newsgroups, and support for client-based services such as Microsoft NetMeeting or AOL Instant Messenger.
“Organizing help for people new to using the internet” means setting up programs by which NCF supporters (volunteers) and community agencies can help people overcome the barriers of getting online, including help with computers, software, modems, internet tools, and documentation. This “do good” activity helps people in the community, earning NCF a positive profile and image, and support from sponsors/members.
Implementing services and programs in a professional way, even if those services are less than state-of-the-art, earns NCF a positive image.
Volunteers help NCF help others, and as a bonus, often acquire or develop skills. NCF coordinates in-kind support from professionals, corporations, institutions, and governments.
WHEREAS NCF must give current and potential
members reasons to be members and support NCF with their donations, and
NCF must give current and potential sponsors (including institutions, corporations, govts, and individuals) reasons to support NCF, and
in consideration of NCF’s mission and wishes of members; and
to guide staff and supporters with planning and execution in 2001:
BE IT RESOLVED that NCF’s focus in 2001 is to provide its members with low-cost reliable dialup access to basic internet services, and to organize help for people new to using the internet.