Let’s talk about the Annual Fund..and other things!

Aaron Ensminger, Executive Director

October 28, 2019

Happy Halloween! I’m almost through with visiting (almost) all of the Regional Conventions, with Allegheny/Canada coming up this weekend, and this is a great time to talk about some of the questions I’ve been getting.

But first, a brief interlude — Halloween is one of the MAJOR holidays in my family, as it is for any family with trick or treat aged kids. As such, I need to tell you about the costumes that will be walking out of my house on Thursday night. First, my older son has selected an inflatable “alien abduction” costume, which is weird in itself. My younger son, however, has decided to be an “old man shark,” which means a rubber shark mask with a beard attached, a cane and a dorsal fin. And if you’re in the neighborhood, my neighbor and I will be running our regular bar in the driveway for adults.

So, now to the main focus of this little missive — let’s talk Annual Fund. This is the time of year that clubs really start looking at their support of the Annual Fund, particularly as it comes to Early Bird/100% Club support, which is due December 1.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the Annual Fund and exactly what the money is used for, and whether it supports Hearing Charities of America (HCOA). First, let me be clear: the Annual Fund does not support HCOA. While HCOA receives a grant from Sertoma (in the neighborhood of $25,000 to $35,000 annually), that money does not come from the Annual Fund.

The Annual Fund supports Sertoma’s charitable functions — primarily grants and scholarships. The Lion’s share of the Annual Fund supports these two programs, while the rest goes to help programs such as A Sound Investment, which can help your club get public spaces looped in your community.

I’ve gotten a few other questions a time or two at the Regional Conventions, so let’s tackle those here as well:

  • What’s the relationship between Sertoma and HCOA, exactly? HCOA is a subsidiary organization of Sertoma. The two organizations are separately incorporated, and while HCOA is funded in part by a grant from Sertoma, HCOA receives its own donations and funding from programs like Celebrate Sound. However, I want to stress: HCOA exists because of you. It’s Sertoma’s organization, and it allows Sertoma to affect its mission of hearing health in areas that many not be served by a Sertoma club.
  • What’s the vision for Sertoma? While I work closely with the Board (and technically hold a Board position), it’s not my place to have a vision of my own for the organization. However, I can speak to the Board’s vision for the future of Sertoma after having been part of the discussions: To shift Sertoma’s focus with the knowledge that we are a member organization. Without members, there is no Sertoma. We’re currently developing programs and policies to reflect that. And as the chief staff member in your Headquarters office, that’s a part of the vision that I can speak directly to: your headquarters office is working hard to ensure that our own operation reflects our desire and our job to help you in your club’s local mission. That’s our mission: to help you and your club be the best it can be.
  • What exactly is Vision: 2020? There’s still some confusion here, so I can answer this in one sentence: Vision: 2020 is the system of leadership for Sertoma. Our Specialists provide leadership for our clubs and are a conduit for those clubs to talk to the Board and to Staff, and in getting feedback, they help us to see the trends that we need to identify in developing programs and policies. They also provide a path to Board service, by providing opportunities for national service in a more limited way.

So there’s the news for today from my desk. As always, please feel free to contact me directly with any questions or to get some clarification on anything. I’m here for you!


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