Headquarters Updates in the age of COVID-19

Aaron Ensminger

May 1, 2020

After some correspondence with members over the past couple of days, it occurs to me that I haven’t updated everyone in quite some time! My apologies… I’ve been so head down with the day-to-day, I’ve neglected these updates! There’s a lot to get to, so let’s jump right into it!

First, I want to thank everyone who voted in Sertoma’s recent elections/ballot question. And special congratulations to Renee Ward and Cindy Markham on their elections to the National Board! The individual member dues question was approved, and that money will be extremely helpful in first, easing the operational deficit your HQ has been operating with, and in helping us explore some new programs to help our clubs out! Whatever the outcome, my metric as HQ staff is number of votes cast, because that measures how well we’ve gotten the word out and motivated people to either mail in their ballots or hop online to vote. We were a bit higher than in past years, but our goal going forward is much higher!

Next, let’s talk some about our HQ response to COVID-19. We’ll take these one at a time 🙂

  • First, our Headquarters Office continues to be closed, and will be through May 15th, which is in accordance with our county guidance. We’ll maintain some extant rules (maintaining appropriate distance, holding meetings virtually) and have some new ones to get used to, like sanitizing the copier each time we use it! We’ll also be opening “softly,” with some rotating groups of staff in the office at a time until everyone’s more comfortable and we can adjust to what life looks like. One bonus: I wrote in earlier posts about how we were moving our office around somewhat so that all staff had private offices… with no sharing of offices, we’re not going to need to build any temporary distancing structures like walls or shields!
  • Next, let’s talk convention! We were able to reschedule from our original April dates to August. (you can take a look and even register here: https://sertoma.org/2020convention/) We’ve had some questions about why we’ve chosen to reschedule rather than cancel. The simple answer is because we simply don’t know the situation in a few months. The possibility of canceling exists if we postpone… but if we cancel, it’s difficult to then go back and reschedule!
  • Finally, let’s talk financials. First, I’m happy to report that I have not had to lay off any staff, nor do I expect to need to! We had one staff member leave us right before the pandemic began, and the delay in filling that position has saved operating capital in the interim. We’ve also realized a savings through delayed board and staff travel, though some of that expense will show up next fiscal year (provided convention happens).

    One of the biggest concerns for us is our Annual Fund. When our financials from this fiscal year are published, you will see an annual fund drop. However, this will not be due to any pandemic response. Most of our Annual Fund contributions come during Regional Convention season. Our Annual Fund drop is a systemic issue that has been occurring year over year, and we’re working on ways to reverse that trend.

    One other bonus we have is with a July 1-June 30 FY, we’re thick into our 2020-21 budgeting process so that we can make some good decisions.

    And since I have been asked the question a couple of times… Sertoma owns its own HQ building. And since we’re registered as an historic site, we enjoy a ridiculously low property tax rate, so there’s no facilities reductions to be had there (and it’s great when we have a crisis like this!

Whew! That’s a lot going on! There’s so much more, like our first new club charter in a few years, a new class of national membership, a very cool National Service Project launching soon, and some fantastic press for both Sertoma and Hearing Charities… be sure you’re a member of the Sertoma Members’ Corner on Facebook to see everything that’s happening, and be sure to read the email updates we send out!

As always, if you’ve got concerns questions, thoughts… please drop me a line at aensminger@sertomahq.org. I love hearing from all our members all the time!


1 Comment

  • Rev Dr Douglas Pieper says:

    This pandemic time is concerning me because we’re not sure if we can have our fund raising functions. Our next one is a golf outing. Maybe we can still have it with some different aspects.

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