Category: Message from the Board
Fall 2013 Board Meeting Summary
by Corinna Snyder, EEFC Board President
The Board posts our Board meeting notes on the website — here is a link to them. We agreed it would be good to also provide a summary of our meeting outcomes, so I’ve written one up, and here it is. It’s lengthy – as you can see we have a lot to do!
First and foremost on our to do list is fundraising. As you’ll read below, while we exceeded our fundraising goals, we still ran at a deficit this year, and we have run at a deficit for a few years now. We need to turn this around, and we will do so – and we will need your help!
Please reach out to me, or any other board member, including Jay, if you have questions – any one of us would be happy to hear from you.
Fall 2013 Board Meeting Summary
We confirmed the Strategy and Goals for the EEFC that we developed at the spring meeting:
- Transition the Board out of operations: Our goal is to have our staff to take on the day-to-day operations of the organization so the board can focus on long term planning, fundraising, and governance. We are calling this Chart the Course.
- Demonstrate our reach beyond the workshop programming: We want to bring the joy of Balkan music, dance and folkways to more people that we can reach just through our two workshops. Examples might be publications, online resources, educational programming. We call this More than Camp.
- Raise the profile of the EEFC: We want the EEFC to be recognized as a significant resource for those interested in Balkan music, dance, and culture. We call this EEFC = The Source.
We agreed that to help the organization achieve these goals, we need a fourth goal: Improve our financial, technological, and organizational capabilities. We are calling this Build the Base.
- Workshop costs are rising
- Fundraising needs to grow
- All staff are part-time and hours are limited
- We depend on work exchanges and volunteers
- Camp attendance at the Mendocino camp is lower than we want it to be
- There is both opportunity and need for other revenue generating program offerings to offset workshop deficits, and
- We need more consistent communications to our community.
Looking forward we want to:
- Do more of what we do well
- Better support people’s desires to help
- Work better as an organizational team
- Experiment with partnerships
- Expand our reach beyond camp
- Develop a fundraising plan, and
- Continue to improve communication and transparency.
What we have accomplished this year, and our goals for the next 6-12 months
The finance committee and our intrepid staff have transitioned our books to conform to the Unified Chart of Accounts (UCA) protocols, a standard for nonprofit bookkeeping and accounting with categories that align with those on Form 990, our annual report to the IRS. By using this format, we can demonstrate to others that we are responsibly managing our finances. Now we can see our financial position in real time, and can compare our estimated costs and revenues to our actual costs and revenues with greater ease. In addition, our budgeting process is now integrated into our bookkeeping system, making the process easier, and letting us run scenarios. This is a huge and positive change: in the past, when I was asked to authorize an unexpected cost, it was difficult to determine the potential impact or what we needed to do offset the cost elsewhere. Those days are over! Lastly, this change puts us in a much better position to apply for grants from foundations, who like to see the ability to follow UCA protocols as a sign of good financial responsibility.
HUGE thanks to the finance committee (Biz, Jay, Doug, Nancy) and Traci for making this happen, and thanks to previous board members and staff who worked hard to keep us fully in compliance with the IRS, and our books clean—we are building on what you all started and/or stewarded for so many years.
Going forward we will be developing a multiyear budget to better plan for financial need, we’ll raise tuition a small amount annually to keep pace with rising costs of workshops, and we’ll continue to keep a close eye on our expenses at Iroquois Springs.
Financial FYI: Our camp at Iroquois Springs, as it is currently structured, does not break even. The cost to rent the facility (including food), which is the vast majority of the total cost, is fixed. We don’t want to pay our staff less or diminish the quality of our program, and we want to continue to provide as many work-exchange opportunities as possible to make it easier for more people to attend camp. Jay and I are analyzing different scenarios that we hope will result in a balanced budget for IS. Your ongoing support via the annual campaign, membership, and auction/donation/volunteering will help.
Jay and community volunteers have cataloged the different systems and software packages the EEFC uses to manage documents and data. Long story short—many systems can’t (or won’t) talk to each other and we have lots of documents floating around, with too much resident on local hard drives.
This year, a community-sourced tech team will recommend a technology infrastructure that gives staff and the board easy access to up-to-date, comprehensive, and accurate financial, membership, and other operational data and documents. Thank you in advance, tech team!
Board Operations Update
We need to update our bylaws to reflect recent changes (e.g., the new position of Executive Director), and to allow our community be a more active part of our committees by opening up committee participation to non-board members. Our new secretary, Ann, will lead that effort. We will also update the Policies and Procedures document to reflect the new roles and responsibilities of the ED and the organization. Nancy will lead that effort.
This year we raised more than we forecasted, which was great news. Congratulations to everyone who participated in that effort. Going forward, we will improve the membership program, and build relationships with individual donors. The EEFC will ask new programs (publishing projects, children’s education programs, etc) to help raise funds for their own efforts, including pursuing outside funding for support.
New board member Elena Erber has begun creating a marketing and communications plan for the organization. This will help us produce regular community updates, provide an effective push to sell spots in both of our workshops (which has the potential to have a serious impact on the EEFC’s bottom line), and help us develop effective outreach to new organizations and individuals.
We know it takes a village to create our two villages every year—but just how much of a village? We want to better understand what it takes to make the workshops happen. This year we’ll be asking the board, staff, work-exchange and volunteers who does what, what skills are needed, and how many hours does it take, to make it all happen. We hope this will help us find a way to better manage the cost of producing the workshops, and better recognize the contributions many of you make to create our workshops.
We have community members who want to lead two pilot programs:
In-school program in NYC to teach Balkan repertoire, by ear
Cocek Nation, involving multiteacher rehearsals outside of camp, two or three performances, and a recording.
We raised $2,400 total at the IS auction for these two new programs, and there was very positive community support. These are also likely grant proposal candidates—expect to hear more in the future. Thank you IS campers for your support – you showed remarkable generosity, and just as importantly, you showed us you want to support the next generation of musicians, and you understand the value of bringing music education to children who may not have access to any arts education.
EEFC’s current resources include:
- · Forum Folkloristika, the songbook, Kef Times, FAQs, and the listserv archives.
We discussed possible future programs, such as edited online discussions (similar to what happens now on the listserv on an ad hoc basis among recognized experts), an online resource center, and a YouTube channel. The publications committee will lead this effort, including developing a plan to pursue grant funding.
The Board agreed that the scholarship application and selection process needs to be better defined and communicated, and that if that is done well, the board will not need to have as much (or any) representation on the committee. This is a great example of our “Chart the Course” goal. Ann will lead that effort.
Scholarship FYI: Crum/Kef Scholarships are funded by donations to the EEFC scholarship fund. The average awards each year are three full positions per camp, with some awardees receiving full scholarships, some receiving partial scholarships, usually half or three-quarters. Stefni Agin Scholarship averages one full scholarship per year, and is funded by Jerry Agin and an anonymous donor. The Balkan Night Northwest Scholarship is a half or full scholarship for a resident of the Pacific Northwest and is funded by Balkan Night Northwest.
The committee is transitioning to longer range planning to allow us to coordinate workshop programming with other EEFC efforts, such as publications, and fundraising efforts, and to make it easier to program for more areas of interest on a more regular basis. It also will let us hire teachers who may need more lead-time to commit to teaching at our workshops.
Our goal is to have 1, 2, 3 and 5 year plans running concurrently, and to have “guest curators” who will work with core workshop programming committee members to recommend a full compliment of teachers for a particular slate that they are steeped in ( i.e Romanian, Bosnian, Sephardic, etc).
Summary by Corinna Snyder, EEFC Board President