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Crowdfunding legislation advocates Sherwood Neiss and Jason Best now head the Crowdfunding Professional Association (CfPA), which was previously under the leadership of Berkeley Geddes, Crowdsourcing.org has learned. The CfPA enacted the transition during a board meeting on Tuesday, June 19.
Officially formed May 7, a month after President Barack Obama signed the JOBS Act, the CfPA aims to grow and help cement the credibility of the nascent global crowdfunding community. Neiss and Best initially declined the opportunity to manage the organization, so LDJ Capital founder David Drake suggested Geddes, who helped form the Association of Technical Education Centers as well as the Network Professional Association. Geddes accepted and the other founding members approved, making him the CfPA’s first governance board chair.
Though Geddes’ past experience proved integral to forming the CfPA, according to multiple CfPA board members, his highly structured and in some eyes unnecessarily rigid governance and leadership style quickly became a source of contention within the association. Geddes called for the swift formation of bylaws and adhered strictly to Robert’s Rules of Order, both of which mitigated potential risk and liability, he argues.
“Following those guidelines and standards helps the association move forward and mature professionally, and keeps it out of trouble,” said Geddes.
Faced with competition from the National Crowdfunding Association and other trade associations, however, some board members worried that Geddes was focusing too much energy on strict adherence to Robert’s Rules and other guidelines, while not moving forward swiftly enough in other areas.
“We could sit still and form a solid bylaw framework and organizational structure, but we don’t have that luxury,” Brian Tsuchiya, a member of the CfPA’s executive board, told Crowdsourcing.org. “You can set your bylaws, corporate documents, articles, and all that stuff, but if you don’t have customers and a value proposition, you’re not going to succeed.”
“For better or worse, professional associations need bureaucracy, and some people are better at both creating and working within bureaucracy, and Geddes was excellent at both,” added DJ Paul, another CfPA executive board member. “While the structure was necessary, we as an organization were not nearly as agile or adaptable as we needed to be… there were needs with respect to regulation in Washington, and Geddes was a little bit slow to respond to some of that.”
Paul said that it became obvious Geddes was looking for help, and Best and Neiss were asked to step in.
After a June 19 board vote, Neiss assumed the role of governance board chair, with Best serving as co-chair. The two don’t intend to hold those positions for longer than necessary, however; Neiss and Best plan to cede control of the organization to a paid executive director as soon as the CfPA is ready to hire one.
Until that time, they’re “going to focus on creating community, on education and training, on sponsorship and PR, and on government oversight and trade representation,” said Neiss. “The goal is to build value for all of us as a group, make sure we are addressing the industry’s needs, and build a viable organization.”
Geddes, who will continue to be actively involved with the association, seems genuinely excited to see Neiss lead the CfPA: “I absolutely have always been a Neiss champion and supporter, because he’s been one of the key leaders to help move this industry forward. That support has been there from day one.”
Editor's Note: The CfPA is not the only trade association that recently experienced a significant leadership change. Check out our inside scoop on the National Crowdfunding Association board departures.