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Editor’s Note: Board of Directors Chair, Jo Custead, of FF Saskatoon, Canada, shares a summary of highlights below from the March 2018 Board Meeting.
Amidst the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, USA, the FFI Board of Directors met from March 19-22, 2018 for a productive and insightful yearly meeting. Discussing topics ranging from strategy to organizational development, 11 Board Members, including two new Board Members Krisztina Balogh and James Permana, covered significant ground on a variety of ideas and issues. Board Members in attendance were Bobbie Mulholland, Lyn Hargreave, Ramona McGee, Krisztina Balogh, Simone Lanzoni, Stuart May, Hiroshi Onishi, James Permana, Therese Vilovar, and Birgit Wagner (Board Member Bob Duncan was unable to attend). I wanted to share with you all some of the highlights from the meeting:
- The Board approved the development and deployment of a global satisfaction survey that will gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the organization from year to year. The survey will give all members the ability to provide feedback on aspects of the organization. This new tool will be deployed in multiple languages annually.
- Upon reviewing the proposed redevelopment of the International Advisory Council (IAC), the Board approved the first slate of advisors – a group of prospective candidates that will be approached to join the IAC this year. The overall goal is for the IAC to be comprised of well-known public influencers that represent the diversity that exists within the Friendship Force membership and publicly promote the mission and vision of the organization.
- After reviewing a report on the financial status of Friendship Force International, the Board of Directors was pleased that for 2017, and for the first time in several years, the organization finished the year strong and ahead of budget. The Board is optimistic this is a reflection of renewed strength and vitality in programs.
- The Board received a report on the ongoing re-development of the website and database, specifically focusing on the next steps to deploy more tools for members and clubs. Additionally, the Board approved the development of a member portal, which is the next step in creating a more secure and personal online experience for members. The member portal will be password protected and each member will receive a unique login. Once logged in, members will be able to build their secure online profile, make Journey payments, track and log experiences with Friendship Force, and connect with the Friendship Force global community. In time, the member portal will be able to provide access in a number of foreign languages.
- Members of the Board examined how remote members may be recruited, connected with our mission, and inspired to start a club in their community. The support structure for global membership is still in development and a work team has been formed to continue its development.
- The Board devoted some time to looking at Friendship Force’s ongoing club development initiatives, specifically efforts to strengthen current clubs and enhance recruitment efforts and to establish new clubs. The Board was pleased with the considerable progress made in marketing, public relations, and the utilization of technology towards these efforts, but recognizes there is still much more to be done.
- The Board received a comprehensive report and engaged in lengthy discussions around revisions to the financial fee structure for Journeys. Challenges with the current fee structure are that it is not equitable for shorter Journeys, it does not take into consideration currency fluctuations, and there are questions about domestic vs. club vs. inter-European exchanges as well as the rate justifications. The Finance Committee will take the research and discussion from the Board and create a proposal to be presented later this year.
- The Board approved the increase of the member affiliation fee to $20.00 USD per member starting in 2020, noting that it has been nearly seven years since the last adjustment and the costs of doing business naturally rise.
- Jeremi Snook spent some time outlining the ongoing development of the next organizational strategic plan that will carry the organization from 2019 to 2021. The plan, currently in draft form, will continue to undergo modifications as feedback from leaders throughout the organization is incorporated in the final product. An official announcement and educational campaign around the new plan is projected for fourth quarter of this year.
- On a joint meeting day, FFI Staff and the Board of Directors met to rework the awards and volunteer recognition process for FFI. Awards were postponed in 2017 due to lack of participation by clubs in previous years. The Board and staff came up with a number of ways in which members and clubs can be honored for their contributions to our mission. FFI staff is working to finalize the awards and recognition process that will be announced in the coming months.
All of us on the Board are pleased with the progress over the past several months and the encouraging reports received and discussions that took place during this meeting in picturesque Asheville. We look forward to keeping you all informed with updates as the year continues!
Jo Custead, Board Chair, FF Saskatoon, Canada