Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Inc

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Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Inc

An overview of topics and significant outcomes of the Board Meeting held Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 May inclusive is provided. The remaining half-day of the Board’s two-day Governance Workshop occurred in conjunction with the May Board meeting. Graeme Nahkies of Boardworks International facilitated the workshop from 9am to 12.30pm on Sunday.

Constitutional and Policy Amendments

The Board considered feedback received from Branches in response to recommendations regarding patron, location of conference, and text that better incorporates youth in the strategic plan. Amongst feedback one branch did not support the location of conference proposal, and another offered a variation for the appointment of patron process. Taking into account all feedback and on the basis of support overall from Branches, the Board endorsed that its direction will remain consistent with the initial recommendations issued to Branches. Constitutional and Strategic Plan amendments will proceed in conjunction with the reduced one-day Conference/Annual General Meeting on Saturday 5 October 2013. Recommendations the Board has implemented for action include:

1. Patron: the position shall be a three-year appointment, made at the Annual General Meeting of Blind Citizens NZ. The Board would have the discretion to re-appointment for a further two-year term.

2. Location of Conference: the Operational Policy Manual 4.2 sub clause a) and b) Location of Conference will be amended to state:

“Conference is to be held alternately between the North and South Islands. In the appropriate year, venues shall be located respectively in:

a) Upper North Island and lower North Island

b) Upper South Island and lower south Island

c) The Board will determine the actual venue based on advice received from the Executive Officer, covering such factors as cost, accessibility of venue, travel considerations and member participation.

3. Inclusion of Youth in the 2012-17 Strategic Plan: the strategic plan will be amended via Goal 7, and the respective “advanced through” and “planned outcomes and activities” statements.

Goal 7: The Association provides a supportive environment for blind and vision-impaired people.

Advanced Through: Proactively seeking areas of particular relevance to younger blind adults that will enhance their wellbeing and create an appreciation of the benefits conferred through their participation with the Association.

Planned Outcomes and Activities: Projects are initiated (for which funding may be sought) that cater specifically to the needs, interests and activities of younger blind adults.

Funding and Finances – Budget for next 12 Months

The Board publicised it would be making hard decisions in May about the level of work and activities it can afford to commit to for the 2013-2014 financial year. Since July 2009 the Board has accommodated core business activities and operating costs by adopting a deficit budget of several thousands of dollars.

This required the Board to utilise well-established reserve funds that have accrued to Blind Citizens NZ over the past 68 years. Spending these much-guarded reserves has enabled the Board to continue operating Blind Citizens NZ in a way that has allowed most activities to occur, and in many instances, at a reduced level. But it has eroded those reserves too.
Branches were informed shortly following the Board’s May meeting about decisions the Board made reached in conjunction with adopting its budget for 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014. To recap, decisions with far-reaching implications for Blind Citizens NZ were made. The Board continues to recognise that it cannot run the organisation with a deficit budget and in this regard has upheld its commitment towards minimising further deficits. The budget adopted for the 12 month period ending 30 June 2014 carries a small deficit of $4,534. Reducing that deficit will be a focus moving forward. However the Board recognises that in the event the $30,000 provided for in our budget is not raised, that the deficit will increase by the amount of the shortfall.
On a high note, the Foundation has recently informed consumer organisations that funding for the 12 month period ending 30 June 2014 will be remain at the same amount as for this financial year. For Blind Citizens NZ this will remain at $247,037.
The Board has anguished over the decisions it has had to make, and the cut-backs that it needed to implement. While on the one hand this reduces expenditure, the flow-on affect is the extent to which activities will reduce. Examples of cut-backs include but are not limited to:

  • Conference reduced to a one-day occasion where the Annual General Meeting will be the primary focus.

  • Board meetings reduced from five to four.

  • Leadership Seminar and Advocacy Workshop removed for 2013.

Planning for this year’s Conference is not in vain, and will be transferred and implemented in conjunction with an Auckland-based Conference in 2014 which the Board is hoping will proceed. Funding applications for next year’s activities are already in the pipeline, and while the outcome will not be known until October 2013, our work for 2014 has already begun.

Sincere thanks goes to Branches that have assisted financially towards national activities during this financial year (1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013):

  • South Canterbury - $2,000: towards toll charges incurred for the National Feedback Line.

  • Nelson - $1,000: towards expenses (unspecified) incurred nationally.

  • Wanganui - $500: towards expenses (unspecified) incurred nationally.

  • Wellington - $2,500: towards one print issue of Focus.

Member and Acquisition Campaigns

Initial results for each of the donor campaigns identifies the outcomes are highly positive, and compare well with sector standards, particularly for first time campaigns. An overview of each of the campaigns shows is provided:

1. February member campaign achieved the following:

  • an average donation of $52.49 (anything over 10% is commended as being successful and anything over 5% potentially covers costs)

  • a response rate of 15%

  • donations as at 3 May totalled: $9,605

  • Breakdown of donations by denomination:

  • $5 = 21 donors

  • $10 = 210 donors

  • $20 = 83 donors

  • $25 = 2 donors

  • $30 = 14 donors

  • $40 = 17 donors

  • $50 = 27 donors

  • $60 = 1 donor

  • $100 = 10 donors

  • $125 = 1 donor

  • $200 = 2 donors

  • $250 = 1 donor

  • $300 = 1 donor

  • $500 = 2 donors

  • $1,000 = 2 donors

2. March general public acquisition campaign:

  • Print/mail to 5,000 data purchased (cold leads) received 43 donations (new names)

  • 3.4% against an expected return of 1% (in the first two weeks received approximately 10 per week. Subsequent weeks received 1-5 per week.)

  • average donation of $31.20

  • donations total $1373

  • breakdown of donations by denomination:

  • $5 = 5 donors

  • $10 = 5 donors

  • $20 = 11 donors

  • $25 = 12 donors

  • $28 = 1 donor

  • $40 = 1 donor

  • $50 = 4 donors

  • $60 = 1 donor

  • $100 = 3 donors

  • $150 = 1 donor

Work is underway to finalise reporting on each of the campaigns, including identifying the Board’s return on investment.

World Blind Union

The Board is supporting Martine Abel-Williamson’s willingness to accept an invitation she has received from WBU internationally, to hold a voluntary role, which addresses one of WBU’s strategic objectives i.e. accessibility and “Working towards a world that is fully accessible to blind and partially sighted persons”. There will be several people leading specific pieces of work - Martine Abel-Williamson will lead the work on “Promoting full access to the environment for blind and partially sighted persons including safe and independent travel and access to transportation.”

Blind Citizens NZ’s Board was asked to support an “in-kind” contribution that will take the form of resource development of guideline documentation. This will be achieved through the Executive Officer in part, and the issues she is working on from the advocacy programme and which align to topics that fall within the role.
The Foundation was also approached and asked to support the work with a financial contribution. It will fund a total of $4,000 over the four years i.e. $1,000 per year.
Areas of work and projects may include:

  • Continued advocacy efforts on WBU’s silent car strategy / finalising the silent car strategy.

  • Strategy relating to Air Transport issues / expanding access to the air travel guidelines.

  • Strategy relating to Barrier-free design / promoting universal design principles.

  • Shared spaces / developing best practice guidelines for shared spaces.

Items in Brief

Strategic Plan 2012-2017: When making changes to the strategic plan to accommodate a youth-related goal, it became apparent that the plan’s “Outcomes and Activities” section in particular had become a mixture of outcomes and actions which somewhat detracted from the flow of the points being made. Some word-smithing to some of the statements so they read as outcomes rather than actions, without altering their intent in any way, has occurred.
Branch Liaison and Support: several of Blind Citizens NZ’s Branches are in a fairly vulnerable position and efforts to either support or revitalise them, will occur in the coming months. Mid Central Branch will be receiving some much needed guidance and support in the near future. A meeting of members to consider options will be called in either July or August.
Audit Preparation for 2013: The Board’s Funding and Finance Committee met with the auditor Michael Rania just prior to the Board’s May meeting. Discussion with the auditor enabled a review of our consolidation procedures, whether this is required, and to also consider annual audit costs for national office, and the consolidation procedure. It was confirmed that legally Blind Citizens NZ must have an audited set of consolidated accounts. Steps to mitigate further qualifications on the consolidated accounts regarding the handling of cash were also discussed.

The auditor will be working with the Executive Officer to prepare a set of requirements that will be issued to Branches for the financial year beginning 1 July 2013.

Governance Training: The Board completed its governance workshop on the Sunday morning of the Board’s meeting. Graeme Nahkies from Boardworks International has facilitated these workshops and concluded the half-day activity. Funding from Te Pou has made this possible.
Developing the Community Support Worker concept: Blind Citizens NZ’s Strategic Plan for 2012-2017 identifies the concept of piloting a “community support worker” role. The Board has endorsed fundamental requirements of what this role might involve. The Executive Officer will now be drafting a position description that mirrors fundamental requirements of the role. Moving the discussion to this point is essential and ensures necessary documentation is available in the event funding opportunities arise that might support piloting this initiative.
Relocation of Blind Citizens NZ National Office: The Board supports in principle, the national office down-sizing and being part of the soon to be refurbished RNZFB Wellington Regional Office. Fundamental in taking this approach is that outgoings will decrease and to this end plans for a much-reduced space are being worked on. Currently the national office comprises approximately 184 sq metres with all amenities intact. It will be potentially reducing to 99 sq metres. This will mean a new and different way of working for we will be sharing facilities that we currently enjoy having dedicated and unrestricted access to i.e. meeting room, kitchen and bathroom facilities.
Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ Board: The Board received two expressions of interest in the representative position to BLENNZ. Clive Lansink has been reappointed to represent Blind Citizens NZ on the BLENNZ Board of Trustees, for this 18 month term.

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