Last Thursday, Occupy Wall Street’s motley finance committee passed out a balance sheet dated current as of October 18. According to the report, which the finance committee members have been refining for the past month, the protest’s general fund raised $454,437.47 in donations and spent just $55,131.85.
The finance committee has been working on a financial report to turn over to a CPA. ”I’ve been trying to warn them to make sure that all of this is really kept aboveboard,” said Elaine Brower, treasurer for a parallel occupation movement in Washington D.C., October 2011, who helped the Occupy Wall Street protesters tidy up their books. “We know that the government is going to be looking at this at some point.”
The protesters also want their finances to remain transparent, in order to foster trust in the tent city and avoid being corrupted by any large donors.
Occupy Wall Street’s balance sheet, as of October 18:
$333,199.95 ………….. online donations
$121.237.52 ………….. cash donations at buckets (later replaced by lock-boxes) stationed in Zuccotti Park
-$20,407.81 ………….. Livestreaming equipment such as cameras, microphones, cables, Teradeks
-$18,985.80 …………… food
-$3,504.98 …………….. office supplies
-$7,127.05 …………….. generators, tarps, furniture (about $3,000 of this line item was used for brooms and trash cans when the protesters cleaned up Zuccotti Park)
-$5,106.21 …………….. assorted expenses
Most of the general fund’s budget has been doled out to the working groups, analogous to Congressional committees, in increments less than $100. The two largest single budget items passed by the General Assembly were the $20K. for the media team and $3K. to clean up the park in order to avoid eviction by the city.
Notice that as of October 18, the protest had only spent about 13 percent of their total haul. That’s because the allocation of funds was rather messy in a decentralized movement where major decisions all require consensus.
But the protest also passed an important change last week: the transition from a direct democracy to something more like a representative one. The General Assembly had gotten too large and unwieldy to continue voting on every decision. The finance committee felt especially burdened–budgets of more than $100 had to pass at the General Assembly, which made less sense as the working groups’ expenses grew. But now the protesters have decided to add a “spokes model” assembly to the General Assembly, which would be a meeting only of people who participate in one of the working groups or caucuses (special interest groups such as the “women’s caucus”).
The smaller assembly will have the power to allocate funds, meaning the protesters will start spending more of the money they’ve collected.
WNYC reports Pete Dutro, the protest’s unofficial CTO, said the next financial report will include bigger ticket items, namely $5,000 for bicycle-powered generators and the $20,000 that Occupy Wall Street is considering sending to Occupy Oakland in the wake of police clashes.