Please read the handouts by following this link: Agenda - Financial Report - Membership Report
Our annual meeting opened with Tim giving us a little history, illustrated, with slides of the sangha in general as well as several good shots of Nancy Welch, who had departed just a few days earlier. SEE TIM'S PICTURES
Ken passed the gavel on to Bob Rose, and gave a tribute to Talus, who has held so much of our process, history, form, and content in his spacious head. Only by his stepping back did it reveal the enormity of our needs. Bernadette remarked that we stand on his shoulders, expressing our collective thanks and appreciation. Since we now have a new paid bookkeeper with IT expertise, it is possible for both Tim and Terrill to let go of some of their many ongoing, largely unseen responsibilities.
2019 BUDGET (and our first administrative staff person)
The budget proposal for 2019-2020 was presented (see attached documents) and Ed Wayt was introduced. He will serve in a part time position both as bookkeeper and IT consultant with office hours available to sangha members needing assistance to take their work for the group to an accessible, online format.
Ed brings an interest in understanding systems as well as bookkeeping. His background in both tech work and bookkeeping coupled with an active mediation practice makes him especially valuable to us.
Ed's hours and contact info to make an appointment can be found on our new "staff" page here: Staff. Sangha members are encouraged to make use of Ed to help them with event listings on Wild Apricot, issues in using their personal Wild Apricot account, help creating outreach materials and so on.
Among some of the issues currently “up” are changes in how we use Wild Apricot, switching from PayPal to a more friendly payment processing system, recording and understanding in-kind donation (food, books, cushions), financial equivalent (billeting) and other donations. This helps to paint a fuller picture of our sangha when applying for bigger things. Ed will help the Finance Committee with these issues and is also available to individual members for technical support.
Also discussed was establishing a relationship with a brokerage firm to allow people to give endowments and donations of stock to the group.
Currently we have a reserve (cash on hand) of about $100,000. The budget is nonetheless expressed in a $5210 deficit, primarily arising from the projected expenses of hiring Ed Wayt. Rental fees, retreat and class fees, and collecting membership dues more consistently, are also being studied in order to fill the present but fluid gaps in our fiscal balance.
OUR BUILDING & LEASE
Lease status is as follows: we maintain a strong relationship with our landlord, who is happy to see another five year lease, as well as entertaining other possibilities of using the greater complex. We wanted to go into early negotiations so as not to be scrambling at the last minute. At this time we have a stable home.
Terrill and Desiree discussed membership, and The Tangled Web Of Technology. It has been an increasingly time consuming job for him and Desiree. The many wings of documentation (Google sheets, manual reconciliation, the finance program Moneyminder, checks, WECU transfers, spreadsheets and reconciliation...whew!)
The possibility of using more of Wild Apricot’s built-in services may allow this work to become more reasonable for a volunteer position (however, some past bumps and bruises exist, so It’s complex and a work in progress, but we all agreed that we wanted to ease the workload for those involved in doing it).
Terrill also reported on the ongoing gap between people who's submitted a membership form (80 members) and those who do make regular membership contributions (57 members). It was discussed that changing technical systems for tracking when membership contributions come in will make it easier for the Membership Workgroup to encourage members to follow through on what they offered to contribute. (see his report in the attached documents).
Chris Patton presented on the annual fund drive. Looking at methods used to reach people, between email and letter vs straight email, the winner was email. (Hurray for less paper!). We want to continue to be careful to acknowledge individual gifts. Desiree appreciated the tone and content of this year’s letter. Edie commented on establishing a capital fund that would be separate from our maintenance needs.
SCHOLARSHIP FUND (for attending retreats/trainings outside RCZC's)
Tuli talked a little about the scholarship program and reiterated how helpful it is for those who register and are able to contribute to that fund to allow those folks on reduced incomes to participate in our programs. To whit: we were able to cover 50% costs for Kate McKenna and Bob Penney to attend a sangha leader training retreat, which will no doubt fall upon us like gentle rain in time to come.
Following is a flow from the brainstorm of “Where Do We Want to be in Ten Years?”
Tim: not many (real estate) places in Bellingham exist that fill our needs. This place does.
Ken: owning gives some control. We may need to buy a building.
Chris P: let’s say we bought the “Majestic complex”; what would we do with it?
Tim: we may need another hire to manage rentals. Might we hazard being run by our rentals?
Edie: this building is old. $$$ to improve and maintain.
Tule: how big can we get? Is it realistic? Are we able to attract young people with some fiscal means as members?
Ken: Let’s start a building fund no matter what we do here.
Bob: think about endowments, monthly donations
Desiree: how would general rentals affect our feel? Do we need to limit who rents?
Bernadette: remembering her experience getting us parking as First Presbyterian. Lots of churches are becoming empty and are becoming rental opportunities.
Scott: street front presence is a big plus. Students are a big source of new members
Terrill: existing rentals at the Majestic. How might it fit? In a setting of spiritual depth, a distinct feel is developed.
Edie: do we need a bigger facility? Shared separate spaces for other Buddhist groups?
Scott: using the bigger space as rental, generating $$ could then be a bankroll for us to expand our own activity
John: where we are now is strong. If we continue on the path we’re on , we should do well.
Bob: need to achieve clarity on lease agreements: who’s responsible for what? Also, we’ll need more money in the bank.
Mari: tap into the mindfulness crowd
Barb: must be realistic
Scott; reiterating separating the building fund
Bob: having a strong vision vs getting distracted by bright shiny objects
Desiree: possible resident caretaker.