Blue Thumb Update
On May 27, 2015, the RCWD Board of Managers approved the Blue Thumb license and transfer agreement. The agreement begins with a two-year license period under which Metro Blooms will operate and manage the Blue Thumb program. In October 2017, the RCWD board will review Metro Blooms’ achievements as related to the terms outlined in the agreement to determine whether to transfer the Blue Thumb program to Metro Blooms permanently. On affirmation by the Board of Managers that the program is positioned sustainably and responsive to public and private partners, program ownership will transfer to Metro Blooms, to be operated in accordance with certain terms in the agreement for an additional eight years. Once the agreement has expired, Metro Blooms would own and manage the program without any further conditions, making its own judgments about how to best retain public and private partners to sustain Blue Thumb.
We are excited about all of the possibilities this collaboration holds and hope you will join us in continuing to shape Blue Thumb moving forward.
The following list of questions and answers describes the current understanding of how the Blue Thumb program would be governed and would operate following a of the program with Metro Blooms. Separately, a transition plan covering Blue Thumb governance, financial management and communication, more detailed but not legally binding, would be finalized and carried out collaboratively by Blue Thumb partners and Metro Blooms.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following describes the current understanding of how the Blue Thumb® program would be governed and would operate following a merger of the program with Metro Blooms. The Rice Creek Watershed District and Metro Blooms are working toward achieving a final transfer agreement in late May. Separately, a transition plan covering Blue Thumb governance, financial management and communication, more detailed but not legally binding, would be finalized and carried out collaboratively by Blue Thumb partners and Metro Blooms.
1) What advantages does the license agreement with a non‐profit organization have for Blue Thumb?
The intention of the creators of Blue Thumb was for it to become a non‐profit organization. Non‐profits are eligible for additional funding sources. They are not bound to a single geographic area unless by design, and often excel at establishing partnerships and working with volunteers. Given Blue Thumb’s close programmatic alignment with Metro Blooms, the steering committee is excited about the possibilities to strengthen and expand our work throughout the state.
2) Will I continue to have access to Blue Thumb materials and displays?
All Blue Thumb materials created prior to the transfer would become publicly available after the transfer, either upon request or to partners who have access to the ftp site, including display materials that would be available for check out with payment of a $20 maintenance fee. Handling of materials created following the transfer would be determined by the new Blue Thumb governance.
3) I am interested in participating, but am unable to pay the 2015 membership dues in full. What are my options and how will the new dues structure be evaluated moving forward?
We understand that 2015 budgets were approved before membership dues were officially rolled out, and will work with partners to determine a contribution for this year that meets your needs. Raising money through dues, grant writing, and sponsorships will be an important part of creating a more sustainable program in the future. We will convene a working group to discuss fundraising efforts including the 2015 dues structure and possible changes for 2016.
4) How might the roles and relationships with local government partners change?
Government agencies often pay dues to or contract with nonprofit and for‐profit businesses. The Blue Thumb partner agreement would legally transfer the Blue Thumb program and assign the Blue Thumb copyright to Metro Blooms in accordance with program governance and related terms designed to continue partner support and remain responsive to public goals into the future. The agreement likely will provide for a period in which Metro Blooms will operate the program by license before program ownership is transferred, while it and partners refine governance and operational structures to ensure these goals are achieved. Metro Blooms has a history of successful contract work with 10‐20 government agencies each year, including the Legislative‐Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources from 2009‐2011. If there are new benefits that you would like to see in 2016, please let us know!
5) How will we ensure financial accountability and transparency for partners?
The Blue Thumb budget would become the responsibility of the new board of directors following a merger of the program with Metro Blooms.
As a non‐profit organization, the Metro Blooms board of directors has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the organization’s records and accounts are accurate. To meet this responsibility, monthly financial statements are presented to the board as well as quarterly statements where the approved budget is updated to more accurately reflect the actual versus projected revenue and expenses. The quarterly statements would be shared with the Blue Thumb advisory committee and made available to all partners upon request.
The annual budget is approved at the December board meeting. Blue Thumb partners would have the opportunity to comment on draft budget items paid for with membership dues through a process established by the advisory committee. Membership dues would only be spent on preapproved activities as outlined in the annual budget. An annual report detailing expenditures and achievements would be provided for partners as well.
The 2015 preliminary budget has been included for your reference. It reflects an estimate of revenue and planned expenses at this time for the collection and use of partner dues.
6) How would Blue Thumb and the newly formed organization be governed?
Blue Thumb partners would have several opportunities to participate in governance of the organization including as a board member of Metro Blooms through an application and interview process, or on a steering or advisory committee with a liaison to the board to promote communication between the two entities.