Well, why do we need Federation reports?
The Federation reports give us a valuable review of the year’s activity, including our financial performance, always a necessary moment in an annual conference.
As you would expect, President Isobel opened this segment with much enthusiasm and optimism. Even though we have had an unprecedented year with the Covid 19 pandemic, as an organisation we have learnt how to be adaptable, flexible and community focused with a ‘Keep calm and carry on’ philosophy. Over the past 12 months we have gained members, lost members, opened new clubs, closed clubs, all you would probably say is ‘business as usual’, however, we still managed a record number of Program Action forms and raised £50,000 for our ’Empowering Girls in Nepal’ project – £28,000 of which was raised by ‘The Big Story.’ We welcomed Joanna Lumley as our Nepal Ambassador with much pride and enthusiasm.
It was a historic year for our African clubs, who chartered their own Federation SI Africa in July 2020, and thanks went to Ann Hodgson and Margaret Oldroyd for their valuable help with this historic event. The onset of the pandemic has led to more restricted movement for all of us and in this area, we have all become more flexible and adaptable. Meetings have become digital with Zoom or GoTo technology, in some instances making them more accessible to members unable to travel.
Our new website has a vibrant and modern feel, and after some teething problems, has increased our visibility and raised awareness of who we are and what we do. The website is updated with regular blogs and contains helpful webinars to improve and develop members’ IT skills. Our Social Media Campaigns are directed at attracting new members with an emphasis on Community and Volunteering.
In terms of internal achievements, we have implemented a new Dispute Resolution process, appointed new Directors, and equipped staff with technology to facilitate home working. The Stockport team have adapted to the pace of change and supported all new challenges.
Our Centenary celebrations have kicked off with enthusiasm with the ‘Who is She’ project, highlighting 12 inspirational Soroptimists per month and the wonderful ‘Tree Planting’ project which has caught the imagination of everyone. Everyone is planting trees! Our Celebrations diary is now on the website.
We secured the funding necessary to go ahead with our new Sculpture at the National Memorial Arboretum – an eternal prominent monument to our Soroptimist Organisation.
Finally, our first virtual Conference in Belfast! Many first-time attendees. No need to travel maybe.
Amazing speakers and as usual, we adapt and develop new ways of maintaining our message and traditions. We have achieved so much this year despite the pandemic.
Federation President Isobel thanks you most warmly for your support and energy.
Our next report came from Ruth Healey – Director of Finance, and there was plenty to be cheerful about here. Last year’s deficit has been turned into a surplus of £12,721 and a breakeven budget has been set for the year 2020/2021. The membership figure was down by 4% and the loss of the African Clubs meant a loss of 647 members. The Gift Aid figure is encouraging and if members have not already signed up for Gift Aid – just do it!
Although SIGBI Trading showed a loss before tax, several investments were sold which covered the loss. Legacies were promising and the reserves are healthy, with a large, ring-fenced amount as a safety cushion, which may be reviewed. After a lengthy tender process, new Auditors were appointed. A survey of club Treasurers was undertaken, and the results will be discussed and shared later. There will be no rise in membership fees for 2021/2022. Ruth expressed her gratitude to Joanne Voller for her support and excellent financial management.
For exact details of the figures, please see Ruth’s presentation or the Annual Report on the website.
The final report of the session was from Claire Bell – Acting Membership Director.
Our membership mantra is ‘Staying Connected, supporting each other and growing our membership’
So many Clubs have just got stuck in and carried on regardless of Covid. Much cooking, baking, and supporting of local communities and families in need. Many clubs chose to support walking the 2.6 miles initiative. Knitting for Hamlin Fistula Hospital has continued. Riding a bike after 40 years – how frightening is that? Losing weight, making face masks, scrubs, laundry bags.
New UK Clubs include SI Thanet and Newstead Wood School Club, Orpington with new clubs in Nigeria and India.
Clubs specifically mentioned today: SI Blackburn, SI Eastbourne, SI Paisley, Janet Heal an Associate doing marvellous work in her community. SI Grange over Sands even attended a virtual Day at the Races complete with awesome hats – Well done ladies!
SI Kirkcaldy started early on Zoom training and kept in touch with members with a telephone rota and did not miss their Annual Wine Tasting – they just did it by Zoom instead.
SI Rossendale must be congratulated for recruiting several new members with their membership drive.
We finished this segment with a bright sunny video from Trinidad & Tobago and the islands. Sunshine and happy music – an uplifting way to end!
SI Stourbridge & District