Friends Finances for 2020 Fiscal Year | Oct. 2019 – Sept. 2020“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Arthur Ward As was the case for all of our members and associates, the 2019-20 fiscal year of the Friends organization was characterized by adjusting our sails to forces of change that arose from both internal and external sources. Internally, many long-time members of our Board of Directors simultaneously reached the end of their tenure. The Board responded by employing a consultant to assist in building, reinvigorating, and diversifying the organization’s leadership for the future. Incredibly, by the end of the search process, half of the Board of Directors had turned over. The resulting influx is a dynamic, diverse group of talents and ages (starting in their thirties) possessing professional expertise in environmental education, conservation, horticulture, development and fundraising, accounting, business consulting, sustainable investing, marketing, and community organization. Externally, the COVID-19 pandemic was a force that impacted the administration of both the Refuge and the Friends organization. While the Visitor Center remains closed at the time of this writing, the Refuge grounds have remained open to the public for the entire year – the only natural area in Palm Beach County to do so. It became a much-needed source of escape and solace for hundreds of thousands, recording 452,018 visitors during the March-April lockdown, prompting one visitor to message staff: “I hope that you remain open to the public. You are one of the few places left to enjoy the outdoors in South Florida. I drive 100 miles round-trip to go with my girlfriend to walk on the weekend.”
Notable Initiatives & News:
- The Board formed committees focused on Education, Marketing, Fundraising, and Member Development & Services, all of which will bear fruit by early 2021, COVID-19 permitting.
- Not knowing when the Visitor Center will re-open, the paid Education Outreach internship was funded to start immediately as a virtual position at the request of Refuge management. Since 2018, the Friends have been providing funding for this Education Outreach specialist to help staff with visiting school groups and to work with schools and other community service providers to bring nature into the everyday lives of urban neighbors. This is one of the goals of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Urban Outreach program.
- Also at the request of the Refuge, the Friends organization has become the sole administrator of the Everglades Day Committee and budget. The Committee chairperson is board member Cathy Patterson.
- An updated Friends logo and website are scheduled to be unveiled early in 2021, with numerous marketing, fundraising, and member initiatives to follow.
- The organization’s finances remain stable and healthy. A capacity-building grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation provided funding for the consultant described above. Otherwise, all of our income is derived from Nature Store profits, donations, and friends like you. Thank you to our loyal members for your support. We welcome charitable or planned giving/estate gifts to the Friends that can be applied to specific desired areas of impact.
- Administrative – Accountant, Bank Service Charges, License Fees, Insurance, Payroll Taxes
- Community Outreach – Calendar & Promotional Materials, Dues & Donations – National Wildlife Refuge Association, Everglades Coalition, PBC Cultural Council, America’s Best Local Charities; Photo & Art Contests, Pocket Refuges
- Membership Outreach – Gator Tales, Postage, Office Supplies, Annual Membership Meeting, Website
- Conference & Travel – Everglades Coalition Conference, The Board Doctor consultation
- Donations to Refuge – Education Assistant, Field Trip Transportation, Exhibit Maintenance, Self-Guided Tour, Internet Service for Resident Interns & Volunteers, Native Plants
- Everglades Day – tents, tables, buses, supplies