The OTW Board, Past and Future Pt. 2

OTW Spotlight on Board

Yesterday we posted about the OTW’s governing structure and how it developed. Today, we continue with the OTW’s plans going into the future, and why it all matters to you.


The Board recognized our organizational structure as a problem many years ago. It’s one of the reasons the Strategic Planning Committee was set up. It’s one of the things the Board discussed at the Berkeley Retreat in 2013.

Long term plans for the OTW—working with other like-minded organizations, bringing in more revenue through grants, donor cultivation, full-time employees… none of it can come to fruition with the organization in this state.

When the Strategic Planning Committee talks about “short term,” they are talking about a three to five year plan to break down silos, build infrastructure, and give the OTW the support it needs from the inside in the short term. Once the OTW has short-term support, we can make long-term changes to reach long-term goals.

The Goal

The ultimate goal is to change over from what we are now—unsustainable, unhealthy, and out of step with nonprofit best practices—into a healthy organization that conforms to industry best practices, and that supports our fannish mission in a professional way so that people who volunteer for the OTW know they’re coming into an organization that is capable of taking the gifts of their time and energy and making the most of them.

Whether at the end of this process, the OTW ends up with a Board and an Executive Director and an executive leadership team, or something completely different (but still in line with general best practices of nonprofit organizations), our deepest hope is that between Board, Strategic Planning, Legal, and all of the staffers and volunteers who are giving their time and energy to helping us work this through, we are going to be able to give the OTW the infrastructure it needs to keep moving forward to become an even bigger and better place for fans and fandoms.

Why you should stick around

This post has focused only on organizational structure, but the OTW’s accomplishments have been remarkable for such a young organization!

Some of the other things we’ve done:

  • more than a million fanworks on the Archive of Our Own.
  • more than half a million edits on Fanlore.
  • fanworks and fan sites have been saved and preserved by Open Doors.
  • vids and other fanworks are protected by our legal team’s fair use and DMCA arguments.
  • Transformative Works and Cultures is a peer-reviewed journal for fandom, about fandom, that is listed in the Modern Language Association (MLA)’s bibliography of journals.
  • we are translating the OTW website into 18 different languages.
  • there are almost a million tags on the Archive of Our Own!

Fandom can be an incredible place, full of amazing, wonderful people and boundless, positive energy. With a new organizational structure and a well-laid strategic plan, it will be even easier for us to expand and add on to what we already have.

The Organization for Transformative Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We exist entirely on the generosity of our donors. If you would like to help our work to continue, please consider donating today.

  1. whiskers commented:

    Fascinating peek at the big picture view. I had no idea the OTW was struggling with scaling problems like these. It does sound like there needs to be a clearer governance model and a more intentional operating structure.

    While I thought the problem statement in the previous post was fairly clear, I had a lot of trouble interpreting what the plans are from this post. It seems like a chunk of relevant text may have been accidentally edited out of the “Reorganizing” section?

    • Janita Burgess commented:

      Thanks for the comment! We’ve forwarded it to our Board so that they can address it directly.

    • anna g. commented:

      Hi whiskers! Thanks for your comment. I’m Anna and I’m on the Board of Directors. The directors will be working with our Strategic Planning Committee, Legal Committee, and Volunteers & Recruiting Committee at our upcoming retreat in October 2014 to address these issues and work on finding both long-term and short-term solutions.