Tough Times, Tough Decisions

Legion of Tech has been going through some rough times. We’ve had high turnover in board membership, volunteer participation is down, and fundraising is more difficult than ever given the economic recession.

However, the most severe hardship we’ve faced is the substantial embezzlement by a former board member. The financial harm to our organization has been nearly fatal. We incurred several thousand dollars in legal fees during the process of responding to the embezzlement. Also, because a large portion of the embezzlement occurred through improper use of a credit card, Legion of Tech assumed and is still paying off a significant amount of debt. All of these things have depleted our financial reserves in a very detrimental way. The monthly payments required to keep our debt in good standing means that our basic operating overhead is very high compared to what it once was.

Historically, Legion of Tech’s only source of income has been corporate and (to a lesser extent) individual contributions for specific programs (like BarCamp and Ignite).

Another source of income for the next several years was to have been from monthly repayments of the embezzled funds. Unfortunately, Todd has defaulted on his agreement with us. We do not know when or even if he will resume payments (more on how we are dealing with this this below).

It’s true that we could continue to raise funds for programs as we have in the past, and try to over-fundraise in order to cover our administrative overhead (including debt incurred as a result of fraud). However, we feel that to do so would be disingenuous at best, and unethical at worst. We don’t want a single penny of the community’s money unwittingly going towards debt incurred via embezzlement or to legal fees.

What this means is that Legion of Tech will cease its programs for the foreseeable future.

We aren’t dissolving (we can’t because we still have the debt to repay). A few board members, including myself, are committed to remaining on the board to attend to administrative duties and to oversee repayment of as much of the embezzled money as is possible.

And don’t worry, BarCamp and Ignite Portland aren’t going away. Legion of Tech doesn’t own them, and we know that there are other capable organizations in Portland that will continue the BarCamp and Ignite traditions. In fact, planning for Ignite Portland 10 is kicking off this week as a non-LoT event. Attend Wednesday’s planning meeting or join the mailing list to get involved.

Regarding recovery of the embezzled funds: there are a number of legal routes available to us now that Todd has defaulted on his agreement. We will pursue them to the best of our ability. All of these options require more cash that Legion of Tech has available, so if you are interested in helping out with a contribution to put towards legal action, let us know. We know many of you want to see the embezzled funds repaid as much as we do. At least a few board members will be contributing their own funds, but that will only get us so far.

As always, please drop us a line if you have any questions.