September 3, 2004

Eric Cheung, John Hadalski, Brett Alkins, Darlene Heep, Jack LeBeau, Kirt Flowers

Eric Cheung


Eric explained this Sub-Committee meeting was requested by the PDD Working Group to cover two issues: 1) developing a PDD membership fees structure, including a sample solicitation letter and a list of membership benefits and 2) approaching lawmakers for financial assistance.

Hadalski observed that when approaching public entities for financial contributions it is important to keep in mind that there may be variances as to when a request must be made, what amount can be given and how long it can take to process a request. Getting contributions may not be a smooth process. Other participants noted that there may be similar procedural difficulties in receiving contributions from the private sector.

The Sub-Committee also discussed whether there should be a requirement for Executive Committee members to pay a financial contribution in order to maintain their position. The concern is the perceived unfairness if some non-paying Executive Committee members have the same decision-making authority as other members who do make a contribution. Or, there could be a conflict-of-interest issue with some members putting money into PDD in order to derive a financial benefit from it. Eric noted that this latter concern was really only relevant to vendors, who are not accorded a place on the Executive Committee, which makes most of the substantive decisions for the group. Despite the potential for unequal contributions by the Executive Committee members, the group ultimately decided that the concern was not strong enough to warrant requiring Executive Committee members to have to pay membership fees. Each should be able to pay to whatever extent it can, because the members are serving the public interest and have a stake in ensuring the success of PDD regardless of what financial contribution they are able to offer.

The group then turned to discussion of what benefits could be offered in exchange for entities agreeing to pay membership dues. Alkins noted that many organizations would provide financial donations to PDD as a general expression of support for the program. In this light, it is important to explain in a membership solicitation letter exactly why the PDD program is worthy of that support. Alkins distributed corporate sponsorship solicitation language from another nonprofit he works with, which could be used as a model for PDD's letter.

As for more tangible benefits that could be offered to each dues-paying member, the Sub-Committee came up with the following items: an annual or semi-annual ad in a major newspaper expressing appreciation for the member, member ads in PDD's newsletter, website links to the member's webpages, the inclusion of the member's name in the PDD letterhead, an award or certificate of recognition to the member and the selection of one member to receive a "Benefactor of The Year" award. Ultimately, as Alkins expressed, the reason most potential members will be willing to offer money has to do with the value of the work PDD is doing rather than any perks PDD can come up with. Eric clarified that going after membership fees to directly support PDD is a separate effort from the "Adopt-A-School-Bus" program, which is geared towards raising corporation support to fund specific fleet retrofit projects.

The group decided to leave the establishment of multiple membership categories up to the PDD Working Group to formulate. Eric will draft a membership solicitation letter and a membership benefits list for distribution at the upcoming Working Group meeting September 20th.

Turning to the issue of approaching lawmakers, Hadalski raised the concern that certain PDD members, given their status as public agents, have limitations on contacting lawmakers. Eric clarified that only those individuals who do not have such limitations would be asked to make the contacts. Hadalski did say that it is okay for an individual to meet lawmakers on behalf of PDD even if the group includes members that are public entities.

In terms of developing a plan of action to reach out to lawmakers, the Sub-Committee decided that it would rely on those individuals who have contacts with lawmakers to meet with them and discuss the possibility of obtaining financial assistance for PDD and its projects. Unfortunately, it looks like only Dale Krapfs has such connections, specifically with State Senator Thompson. Eric will call Dale to talk about reaching out to the Senator. The group decided that for those lawmakers who PDD has no contacts with, Eric should send them a letter introducing PDD and requesting a meeting with them. Eric will draft this letter and distribute it sometime after the elections. Members of PDD who can make legislative visits will be asked to meet with those lawmakers who respond to the letter.