Watershed Council’s FAQ’S

Meetings

Q: How to successfully conduct a hybrid meeting? 

A: To successfully conduct a hybrid meeting, it is highly encouraged to test out all technology (Zoom, computer cameras, etc.) before the meeting commences. 360 degree cameras can be a helpful device for remote attendees to see everyone in the room (Recommended brand: OWL). Asking remote attendees, or anyone using a computer, to mute their audio will help create a more seamless meeting.

Q: How to make a virtual meeting engaging and inviting? 

A: Interaction and visualization will create an engaging virtual meeting. Including photos and videos within meeting slides will help attendees engage with the material. If applicable, creating breakout rooms for small group discussion will allow attendees the chance to share and hear from others. Pre-recording certain parts of the meeting may help create a smoother flow.

Q: How frequently should watershed councils conduct board meetings? 

A: The frequency of board meetings will vary, but many watershed councils host board meetings every month or once a quarter.  In between meetings, it is advised to communicate with your board members by sending newsletters and updated financial statements.

Q: How should board members vote on time sensitive items that cannot wait until the next board meeting? 

A: Adding revisions to organizational bylaws that allow email voting, for time sensitive items, is a recommended strategy. For more information, chapter 65 of Oregon Statute references nonprofit board votes by electronic means. (For more information: https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/65.212) 

Contracts + Bids

Q: What processes are used for soliciting bids and contractors?

A: There are many strategies for soliciting bids and contractors. Some watershed councils conduct an initial request for quotation (RFQ) where bidders are processed and the qualified pool is invited back to bid. Other councils create a contract committee to manage and administer the solicitation and bidding process. It is recommended to negotiate with your bidder in order to add value and ensure all project elements are covered. 

Q: What should be included in an employee offer letter? 

A: Start date, salary (or hourly rate), acknowledgment of compliance with Council policies (employee handbook, fiscal policies, etc.), Fair Labor Standards Act classification (exempt vs non exempt), and acknowledgement of at-will status should be included in an offer letter. 

Financials

Q: How to establish a Federally Approved Indirect Cost Rate?

A: The federal agencies who are granting your organization funds should be able to help you navigate the negotiation process. It is recommended to reach out to your specific partnerships for individualized resources. In general, proposals are due no later than six months after your fiscal year ends and your organization must have audited financials. 

Additional Resources:

Proposal Submittal Instructions: https://ibc.doi.gov/ICS/icrna 

Webinar hosted by OrCP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=Cl5MjsGcTWg 

Q: What are the benefits of a financial audit and their approximate cost? 

A: Financial audits tend to start at $7,500 and increase according to the organization’s complexity. Primary benefits include:

  • Ensures organization is following GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and book balancing procedures 
  • Helps improve financial controls and overall financial management 
  • Creates financial trust with external funders and partners 

Q: What tracking systems are effective for budgets and timesheets? 

A: Excel, Quickbooks, Clicktime, and OWEB budget tracking forms are all reliable tracking systems.

Hiring + Onboarding

Q: Where should I upload job postings to cast a wide net? 

A: The Oregon Conservation Partnership job board is a reliable source with a focus on environmental conservation (For more information: https://wfscjobs.tamu.edu/job-board/). The TAMU Natural Resources Job Board is another reliable, and free, source (For more information: https://wfscjobs.tamu.edu/job-board/).

Community Action

Q: Are Watershed Councils allowed to get involved in lobbying and advocacy?

A:  According to the IRS, “A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status”. (For more information: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/lobbying) As a result, watershed councils with 501(c)3 status can engage in advocacy as long as it is not a substantial part of work. When engaging in lobbying and advocacy, it is highly recommended to track time and funding.