2009 meeting minutes

Attachment A1

Minutes
All Star I Chairs Meeting
Whispering Pines Retreat Center
Laurel Lodge – West Greenwich, RI
October 24-25, 2009

The October 24 section of the meeting was devoted to hearing reports.  No votes were taken other than to accept the reports.

October 25
The Meeting reconvened
at 9:30 AM. M (R. Cook) and S:  to approve the 2008 November meeting minutes and 2009 on-island chairs’ meeting minutes. Approved.

Debbie Weiner Soule, Executive Committee Convener/Secretary, reviewed actions taken by the Exec, November 2008-October 2009.  M (DW Soule) and S: to ratify actions taken by the Executive Committee for the stated period.  Approved.

Announcing Financial Aid Committee members
Tricia Coleman noted that the process of implementing financial aid in a confidential manner is sensitive to the need for continuity of membership on the committee.  Elizabeth Yermack will convene the financial aid committee.  Joy Close, Shelley Powsner and Holly Hunnicutt will also serve, in addition to the registrar and the treasurer.  Elizabeth will serve for 3 years, Shelley and Holly will serve for 2 years, Joy for 1 year.  All these terms are renewable for an additional three-year term.  Therefore, a new member (which could be Joy Close, re-elected) will be elected in 2010 for a full three-year term.

Questions:
Roy Cook:  How will people know who to contact?  Answer:  Blue Book has financial aid information; online registration forms for the conference and conference website also have information.

Stan Corfman:  What is the relationship between chairs and financial aid decision making?  Answer:  They are out of the decision-making path; decisions are handled by the committee.

Scott Stewart:  To clarify:  the request for financial aid is on an honor system.

Roy Cook:  What are the limits?  Answer:  We do have a policy that has been established;  the limit is up to fifty percent of room and board fees.

Sally Easter:  What is the relationship between financial aid recipients and the discounts that SIC gave or may give in the future?  Answer (Annie Stewart):  The SIC stimulus plan came out after there had been several AS1 financial aid applications.  But we went back to those who had received aid from our conference and asked if aid was still needed. (Stan Corfman):  The stimulus as it was offered in 2009 will probably not be offered in the future;  the “10/10 Bring a Friend” program was a success.  (Jan Prochaska):  There will be some financial aid effort coming out of operating funds in the range of fifteen to twenty percent.

Deb Walton:  How is the Corporation going to make up for the shortfall?  Answer: (Stan Corfman):  Out of operating funds.

Elizabeth Yermack:  Can you speak to how the stimulus plan was a mixed bag?  Answer:  (Stan Corfman):  The plan was implemented too quickly and in a structure that was not as effective as it might have been.  It would have been more effective as a financial aid package than a coupon…it was selected by people who might not have needed it…(Jan Prochaska):  The idea, from donors, was that it would help to get more people to come.  Those already enrolled in conferences that were filled asked for stimulus money and received it.  During All Star 2 the conference gave money back to the Corporation from their auction.

M (H Powsner) and S:  to establish the structure of the financial aid committee as developed and presented. Approved.

Financial Aid fund discussion and motion regarding art auction funds:
Deb Weiner Soule, Exec Convener, introduced the motion.
The final total for the art auction held on island in 2009 was $11,015.  By vote of the chairs on-island, $5508 was immediately sent to SIC (Annual Fund), and $5507 was retained pending further discussion at this meeting.  Given anticipated need for the 2010 year, the Executive Committee makes the following motion, (which was then Seconded):
The balance of the conference’s 2009 auction funds ($5507) be moved to the conference financial aid fund, less monies which donors indicated they wish be moved to the Annual Fund.

Discussion:
Sally Easter:  I want to understand the motivation of people who want funds credited to the Star Island Annual Fund.  All this is not IRS deductible.  The amount deductible is the excess of donation.  Answer: (Stan Corfman):  None of the amounts paid for an auction are subject to IRS rules.  (Jane Trudeau):  I was one of those people, and felt strongly that scholarship money should be new money, and that the people who organized the auction felt this was for the annual fund.  At the Town Meeting we did not discuss giving half of the money from the auction to the scholarship fund.  And I do think people take a charitable deduction for this…SIC is a 501©3, and we are not.  And when Ned [Tillman] and Jan [Prochaska] tell us about the condition of the Annual Fund which is so low, there is a tremendous need on the island for the money.  And we also need to give money to fund the scholarship fund.  As a compromise, I was thinking maybe we could give the $5507 to SIC, but have them earmark it for scholarships for All Star One.

Henry Powsner:  I never received any notification.  All the checks were written by me.  I think this is illegal.  Mechanical issues are best settled out of public forum.

Deb Walton:  Checks are always made out to All Star One.  The checks are never tax deductible.

Elizabeth Yermack:  If we gave this money to the Corporation and said we wanted to earmark it for scholarships for All Star One, it seems to me it would be less likely to give us other scholarship money.  I talked to David Yermack about this, wondering what he thought.  He said he thought that in the long run this was ultimately a wash.  If the money goes to financial aid, it is ultimately going to the Corporation anyway.

Paul Jennings:  I want to try and recapture some of the Exec’s conversations which relate to some of what has been raised here.  When we first started the conversation, we had information from Scotty, Annie, Bill Gimpel, and Debbie Walton, which escalated the conversation of whether financial aid is necessary.  The data clearly made the case to us that we are just beginning to see the escalation of need.  What do we do with this money that has been raised?  We felt strongly that the long term best interest of the conference and the Corporation are tightly linked and inseparable when focused on building strong conferences with good attendance.  So we felt that this money needed to go toward financial aid.  With the need for financial aid, we feel we will fall short next year with addressing the needs that must be met.  So what could be done?  Honoring the practice of allocating 100 percent of our art auction proceeds to the annual fund says that if we don’t do that, it’s $5K less of annual fund money that will be asked from the SIC Permanent Trust.  If we don’t send the money to conference financial aid, that is very likely to impact the number of people that will come to the conference.  Financial aid is really leveraging money from conferees.  We felt it was an issue of timing, and it represented $5K less to the annual fund, but for next year, that money becomes room and board income, unrestricted income which is valuable to the Corporation.  We felt this would generate more money than if we gave it to the financial fund.

(Paul Jennings, continuing): We felt that if we were honoring good practice by giving people the option of opting out… “Half of what you contributed for the auction has gone to the annual fund” …there is no reason why we can’t honor good intent.  After really struggling with what is best in the long run, putting money toward financial aid, supporting people who are coming and want to come again, who had financial aid support, capturing them, have them come spend their portion of financial aid, it makes for stronger conferences and a stronger Corporation.

George Easter:  My initial reaction when I saw this proposal was that we were overreacting.  As I have listened to the members of the Exec discuss numbers, thinking we need $7500 next year, I started thinking about this.  I said, ‘how big a hit are we making with the annual fund?’  Two years ago we sent $13K or $15K from the auction into the fund.  This year we were able to raise $11K…we sent half of it there to the Corporation.  I said to myself, “as we look at this problem, let’s re-address something I haven’t heard at all:  registration.”  What if we upped the registration fee by $10…[then] $20 would go to financial assistance.  The net impact would be another $2300-$2500 [for financial aid].  Can we afford to do this?  I think so.  Will it have a big impact on registration? I don’t think so.  And it’s spelled out to people: we need financial assistance.  This recognizes a greater need.  If we still feel we are $2500 short, I propose we look to the future and say to ourselves, ‘¼ of auction proceeds might possibly be reserved each year for financial assistance.’  And then we look at how things develop.  And we can adjust that percentage that we might need coming out of the auction…25 percent, maybe less.

Jim Prochaska:  Several have said that we need to think about this decision in the context of a shortfall of the annual fund.  As a conference we have been leaders in contributing to the well-being of the island.  We want to do both…contribute to financial aid in both areas. I think we can do that some other way. I understand that some of the aid should be around filling the island.  I think there will be a conference overflowing…I think we need to keep this in the context of the annual fund.

Bill Clegg:  I think we are drastically hurting for money in both dimensions.  I can’t come up with clean enough logic to discern with what the vote should be.  What I would hope we would think about is in the area of fund raising.  Whether it’s following Jane’s lead of getting new money, and the other side, the way the world works is that 80 or 90 percent of the money is going to come from a very few people.  We were talking yesterday and we think the conference will be so attractive that we probably don’t have to worry about filling.  Financial aid comes from three sources:  those who are asked to serve as staff, families who have parents rich enough to help if need be, and the financial aid package.  So we have the potential of pricing out those who don’t have parents rich enough to pay for their kids, and who can’t be on staff. In my mind, that money raising issue in our society comes down to those who can give to the financial aid fund and the conference.  People will have to make some choices; giving to one affects the other.  I plead that we be thoughtful in what we are doing, so that we don’t turn the ability to attend Star Island Conferences into an elitist institution.

Deb Walton:  I feel as though I need to be an advocate for those who cannot afford to come to Star.  Tom and I have been in that position for many years, and I want to advocate for those who are now in that position.  There are those in our community — not newcomers — who can’t afford to come to Star.  We saw this in neon this year.  We couldn’t fill the conference.  In May, we had 190-something and we were alarmed.  I handle all the Walton household finances.  And when I do that I lay out in front of me the many demands we have financially and the many places where our money needs to go.  I would never dream of putting all our money in one place…the best and most responsible thing we can do with this money is to give some to that growing population who cannot afford to come to Star, and some to the island we hold dear.  This year there was an amazing outpouring of generosity…from the Millers, from friends paying for their friends.  It was heartwarming and wonderful.  We are not going to stop seeing that problem…just because Carl and Cheryl-Anne or Scotty and Annie are going to put together wonderful conferences.  Most conferences have had financial aid funds and have funded it through their auctions for years, and we have not.  If we take the money in the way that George suggests, it gives us some.  But we used almost $12K this year, and it was needed.  We have populations who are being out-priced from a place they clearly want to be.  I urge us to put money in both places because both need it desperately.

Bart Bouricius:  We have two categories of people who need money.  One would be people who don’t want those they know look at their finances and make decisions as to whether they should come or not.  There is another category of people who, because we know them, we know need to be reached out to…offspring, whatever.  If there is money for that, good.  There also has to be money for the Corporation to be able to spend.  So that may be someone who you don’t know….people might feel more comfortable if they aren’t known to those reviewing their request.  There has to be money coming from the island, and some coming from the conference…unless we can recognize it, it can’t be all or none.

Laurie Powsner:  I was never won over to this proposal from the Executive Committee.  I don’t think we should change where the funds go after the auction.  I don’t think that writing everyone and saying, ‘If you don’t agree we’ll pull out your money and split it differently’ makes sense.  When we are bidding, and Steve Skrovan is whipping us up, it’s for the island.  So I have a problem with that.  I think the SIC needs the money; long term, I hope all our scholarship money will go through the Corporation.  I do agree that when you take from one pot it affects the other one.  I would love to see a stand-alone fund raising letter, maybe in January, saying ‘We gave away $XXX in scholarships, would you like to donate?’  There could be a line on the registration form, saying, ‘Do you want to make a voluntary additional donation?’  I also think the way we’re counting this money of what we gave, the Miller grant, and so on, I think it’s all fuzzy math.  The coupon that offered SIC discounts was nuts…if you are offered a discount, why would you turn it down?  I think it’s unnecessary to take money away from SIC when we haven’t asked ourselves.

Paula Phillips:  I don’t think it’s appropriate practice to change the basis for asking for money when it’s already happened and people gave under one premise.  We used to donate to the Flush Fund, then the Annual Fund.  I’m fine if that’s what the group wants; we need to state it clearly.  I don’t think we should tack on $10 or $20 to registration, but I think we should have a check-off box to ask people to help someone come to Star…then people will feel good about what is happening.  We talk about increasing our numbers, but I wonder if, by giving financial aid, we are keeping the same group or getting new people.  Will they need to continue to have that financial aid, and if so, are we increasing our pool of people?

Kathy Tillman:  If a person gets scholarship money for three years, do they understand that they won’t get it after that?  (not answered)

John Best:  I intend to vote no on this, and then if it goes down, to introduce a motion saying that we allocate 2009’s auction receipts to the annual fund, and 2010’s auction receipts to the financial aid fund.  We will carry a deficit till the auction funds become available, and then the deficit will balance.

Kim Corfman:  I think we are missing some data about how much generosity there is in the conference that was tapped for financial aid.  We have talked about some, but we don’t really know how much.  Whether it is by a requested donation at the time of registration, or by some other means, we don’t know what the giving level is.  If you can help someone you know come back to Star, would you like to make a contribution to help this?

Paul Jennings:  Basically everyone is right.  It’s just the question of what’s best.  What is important is that it is instructive as to what some future policy considerations might be.  This is not a question of withholding money from the Corporation…we discussed this on the Executive Committee.  It’s whether the money will help pay a debit that has been incurred, or be used to help people come for future conferences.  That is why I think it’s best to leverage funds to help fill the conference.  I also think that there is a difference between stimulus money and financial aid.  Stimulus money is meant to help address a broad issue of under-subscription…as we go forward, the question is whether our conference is fully subscribed…that is an issue about building a community we want to sustain.  The requirement of financial aid is not going to rise and fall on the basis of our wait list.

Ned Tillman:  There are two issues:  our commitment to 2009, and our commitment to 2010.  This year we made a commitment to support the island and we need to do our best to meet that. And we need to plan for how to fund financial aid next year.

Bill Gimpel:  As your treasurer I think it’s my responsibility to be fiscally responsible and conservative to protect our conference.  Three years ago I didn’t have much of a heart toward financial assistance.  I have come 180 degrees on this.  During the early discussions, it was apparent that we had more requests than the $3300 in money we have in the fund to support financial aid.  Tricia [Coleman] asked for more money.  We said, ‘We have more money in reserves, we can allocate more.’  We did.  Prior to coming to the island, I had discussions with others from other conferences.  They said, ‘We take 100 percent of our auction monies and put it toward financial aid.’  I don’t know when we started our current practice.  I would like to keep things simple, and there are 1000 ways to skin a cat.  We can nickel and dime this…and be a PTA meeting and kick in a few bucks and go home.  My proposal was that we make up the deficit by allocating up to 50% of auction proceeds to scholarship.  On island I don’t think we articulated this well enough.

(Bill Gimpel, continuing):  We can give the other $5507 to the SIC, and if that keeps the Corporation afloat, we are in big trouble.  If we delay giving that money, in six months the island will get it.  That money will provide leverage…the people who come to the island will spend money, maybe they will come back.  If you decide you don’t want to do that, and give the money to the Corporation, we have reserves.  We can take money out of reserves and use it for financial aid.  I think it will be a dynamite conference.  Will we be full?  I don’t know.  The usual rule of thumb is that you keep one years’ worth of funds in reserve. If we do what John [Best] suggested, and next year allocate all the money to financial aid, we can do that.  But we need a process.  I felt comfortable with up to 50 percent. I don’t know of those asked who wanted their auction money to go to the Corporation now…but we can do that.  There were only 6 bids of $600 or more…the average price paid was $35.  You in this room and those that left early, were the big donors and the big spenders. We did a bad job at Town Meeting in not bringing this up.  But you voted to give half, and retain half and decide that now.  To make it easy, we could retain $5500 now, and we don’t have to go through all the process of dunning people and encouraging them to contribute, and it’s simple.  And the island will get the money in the end.

Dana Powsner:  I just wish that more people knew that we are all on scholarship…we do not pay the cost of going to Star.  People need to know this.  There are some of us who could afford to pay the full cost.

Annie Stewart:  When you give your money, you are intending it to go to a certain place.  I don’t want to upset people who feel baited and switched.  While I believe in leverage, I want to honor where people thought their money was going.  And we could send out a letter…there are people who will donate.  One of the intents of the financial assistance fund has been to support those who perhaps fell on hard times.  For those who don’t want people prying into their business – and we really don’t – there was one couple who carefully calculated what they would need and took just that much.

Scotty Stewart:  As Paul says, both sides are right.  I don’t think this can be solved easily.  John’s idea is brilliant.  If we give all the money this year to the Annual Fund, and give all the money next year to financial aid, we would have a net fund zero, and people would know where the money is going.

Bob Jorgensen:  I think we have created a monster with financial aid. Our problem is lack of attendance…some of it is the economy…it is also the high price of going to Star.  What do all the cruise ships and department stores know?  They lower the prices to increase participation.  If the price were lower, there would be less need for financial aid. I taught at a school for forty years where the cost per student was $40,000.  The parent participation in the Annual Fund was 100 percent, because parents knew what the value of the program was, along with what they paid, and that the money was tax deductible.  If the SIC lowered prices, and made it clear what the cost was to go, they would give the difference to the Annual Fund.  Another $10 or $20 on registration will cause other problems…

Kim Corfman:  It occurs to me that I’m stuck on not having all the data we need.  One proposal is to give the money to the Corporation and then next year to financial aid.  Another is to try to raise money.  Then at the annual meeting next year, we can decide.

Marion Cook:  How can we get what we have just discussed to the greater Star Island Community? (Stan):  Good question, but we haven’t decided anything.

Larry Yermack:  As I look at what happened last year and the conference that ran, there were a lot of zero’s in expenses…they ran a tight ship.  We spoke about the generosity of the Millers.  Do we have enough data on worst case/best case for next year?  We are basing assumptions on what might be available…without worst-casing it.  And the salaries of the staff…we might need more staff next year.  Until we do a worst case/best case scenario, are we really at a point to go with a decision now?

The question was called, and a vote taken. The motion failed.

Moved (John Best) and S:  To allocate the balance of the 2009 auction receipts to the SIC annual fund, and the entire 2010 auction fund receipts to the conference financial aid fund.

Discussion:
Jim Prochaska:  Kim makes a case that we can raise funds in other ways.  We could still allocate funds in other ways.

Paula Phillips:  I’d like to offer an Amendment:  To allocate 2009 monies to the annual fund, and defer 2010 auction decision. The amendment was accepted, and opened for discussion.

Discussion:
Bill Gimpel:  We need a commitment for a number for 2010 which can be achieved either through fund raising or through addressing a shortfall.

Kim Corfman:  If we make a decision on island we will know how much is needed.

Jane Trudeau:  I would like to see us start the scholarship fund.  If the chairs each give a few hundred dollars, we would have a nice base.

Estelle Best:  Is there concern about putting out yet another solicitation in the form of a letter as opposed to leaving a form on the registration form which encourages people to donate?

Kim Corfman:  It depends on what you are asked for.  People give for different things and for different reasons.  I have never been asked to help someone come to Star.  We don’t’ know how much potential there is.  I view this differently than giving to SIC.

Bill Clegg:  I am persuaded by Kim’s arguments.  I hope we do some fund raising and then defer.  If we defer the vote till we are on the island we are in the same mess.  We may have proved last year that trying to do business other than electing chairs is a good one – it was pretty chaotic.  In an auction there are those who donate and have to decide on this before they come to the island, and those who make the purchase which is decided on island.  So my advice as we take this vote is that the deferral should not be left till we get to the island, but left to the Exec and fund raising.

Deb Walton:  John’s motion forces us to say that we recognize that there is a need for financial aid, and that we are going to commit money for 2010, and for starting 2011.  I think it will be problematic if we try to raise money year by year, we need money that will carry over.  I hope that people, by voting for John’s motion, will commit to the notion that there are a growing number of folks who can’t afford to come to Star without help.

Laurie Powsner:  We would need to allocate time on the island to take that vote.  If you voted no on the other motion we still don’t have the information.  For me it will be new money.  I will give money to the scholarship fund. The other thing is that we do have the reserve fund.  The money from reserves is not seed money…the more often you ask the more you get.

Connie Lentz:  I like the idea of trying to do fund raising separately from the art auction.

Henry Powsner:  The meeting on the island can determine this sort of thing.  If we go into the meeting about what the need is going to be, we can make a decision.  Laurie is demonstrating that the more you ask, the more you get.  We are not talking about a scholarship fund for the next twelve years but for a few years.  I have more faith that this will happen.  If that part of the business model fails, the island will fail.

Jim Prochaska:  Hopefully we would say that we would look to raise new monies, we hope we can.  If we fall short, the Exec could say the money would come from the auction.  People who need financial aid need to know this is going to be covered.

Bill Gimpel:  I can tell you that we probably won’t need 100 percent of auction proceeds to go to financial aid.  I do think we need to put some number in there to identify how much of the money should go in the financial assistance fund.

Paula:  my motion is to defer the decision.

Bob Jorgensen called the question. The vote on the amended motion carried.

Break

Budget recommendations for 2010 and vote

Bill Gimpel, Treasurer, reported that we had $16,925 in registrations; social hour yielded $2166.  Thanks to donors who gave generous grants.  $555 income came from the chokefest, with all expenses underwritten by Miller family.  Dug also donated $500K and $500 more came from Shannon, for general grants.  $2939 was allocated for the speaker, $12, 969 for children’s program.  Laurie and Jon did a very good job of keeping expense at a minimum.  There is currently $541 in the financial assistance fund to carry over for 2010.

Regarding the overall financial statement:  Bill reported, “Sally and George Easter, as Treasurers, carried over $19K+ when they handed over the budget [to me].  We wrote checks to Whispering Pines to up front expenses for this year and next.  Our end balance is $22,003.”

Projected funds for 2010:  Bill said, “I am projecting registrations at the same level.  We might have numbers go up, but I don’t want to budget on that basis.  I have deducted the Miller grant.  Other income is at $2700.  Staff room and board is projected to be the same, but if registration numbers go up, staffing will go up.  Boat fares and supplies are level-funded.  The speaker is ballparked at the same level and I have asked Carl and Cheryl-Anne have asked us to provide numbers for them to plan on.  I have increased other conference expenses to put a little money aside for speakers if needed.”

Discussion:
Ben Soule:  Do we have the real number for what it costs to run activities?  It might be smart.  Bill:  We might do that.  We do depend on donations on the part of staff.
Jim Prochaska:  How much do we have in reserves?  Bill:  We have about $17K.
Jim Prochaska:  Could we recover the money that didn’t go into the financial aid fund for one year to the financial aid fund, at the level of $2500, from reserves?

This suggestion became a Motion that was Moved (Jim Prochaska) and Seconded.

Discussion on the motion:
Laurie Powsner:  Should we also take another 2,000 from our 17000 reserves that didn’t get moved this past year? That would bring the total moving to financial aid to $4500.  This proposal was accepted as friendly amendment.

Further Discussion:
Bill Clegg:  Since we said before we were going to try and raise money, it is smarter to do that.  Laurie withdrew her amendment.  Discussion returned to Jim Prochaska’s original motion:  to move $2500 from the reserves and designate it for financial aid.

George Easter:  We could do this, but I recommend against this.  Two years ago we didn’t need the money.  Now we don’t know what our situation is going to be.  The $17K reserve seems like a lot.  But we don’t know what will happen.  I wouldn’t fiddle with this.

Paula Phillips:  Are these actually two separate accounts?  Bill Gimpel: Financial assistance is comingled.  But we have checking, savings, and money market accounts.  Maybe the financial assistance fund would be authorized to use up to $2500 more?  (Jim affirmed that that is the intent of the motion he proposed).

A vote was taken on the motion, and it carried.

Bill Gimpel:  If we start with financial assistance, we have $541 plus the $2500 you just moved to this fund.  I am projecting that requests for assistance will go up, I don’t know by how much.  I am uncomfortable bringing our reserves down.  There are all kinds of things that can happen and we need a financial base to support the conference.  I have a couple of motions:

One, to increase registration by $10 pp for 2010 and beyond. S.  (Note: New rates would be $95 and $75).

Discussion:
John Best: I am opposed.  People will see this as an ongoing thing…And there will be a fear that they’re being asked for $10 more this year, maybe more the next…not as a flat $10, but as a never-ending set of increases.

Dana Powsner:  What has our reserve been in the past?  Answer:  (George Easter):  We have talked about changing registration rates about every ten years.  We start out with a large reserve and work our way down until we have to address the problem again.  When we see that we are going to move into deficit the following year, then we have to move as a group and make a decision.  We are not there yet.

Deb Walton:  A $10 increase in fees is (what it would be) if you are a single person.  If you have a family it’s $50.

Tom Coleman:  Do we know what room and board rates will be?  Answer (Stan Corfman):  It’s under discussion in the (SIC) Finance Committee.  Room and board rates in the staff budget show a 4.5 percent increase.  I already sense resistance to this in the board and other places.

Paul Jennings:  I don’t know what right parliamentary process is.  This is only ten dollars but it’s a bigger issue.  I worry about our decision making.  I think the Executive Committee should think about this and bring it to you.  Stan:  We are slated to adjourn three minutes from now.  I would like some sense of the meeting about going to the end of this matter. The question was called, and a vote was taken. The motion failed.

Larry Yermack:  I think the registration rate should be raised for adults and lowered for children.

BREAK for lunch, we agreed to reconvene at 12:55 PM.

When the group reconvened, Stan Corfman reminded participants that we have mechanical items that we need to get through, plus discussions of marketing and outreach.  Stan articulated a process for going forward:  It was announced that Paul Jennings would share the thoughts of the Executive Committee, and then we would try and identify outstanding questions going forward.

Paul Jennings:  Up until a few years ago we functioned as a committee as a whole.  Then at some point we decided we needed another structure.  Given the complexities and the challenges ahead, we need to look at our structure so that we can do the business we need to do but not run short of time.  One of those things that the Exec needs to think about is how we refine this process.  We operate a little like a New England Town Meeting…they are carefully orchestrated, however…so the Exec needs to think through some of the process questions that will allow us to make good decisions at these meeting and in the interim.  And we need to bring that back to you.  The other thing is that if there are things put on the table that can be put in the form of a question that the Exec comes back to you on, rather than a motion, that would be helpful.

Stan Corfman:  This is something we should discuss, either on the island in the summer, or next fall, once the Exec has teed up the issue for us.  So I would like to take five or ten minutes to air questions the Exec ought to deal with.  What are your ideas?

Ideas/Questions for the Exec:
1.  Examine the registration fee structure with the possibility of offering reduced fees for children.
2.  Discuss and make a recommendation on the ongoing disposition of art auction funds
3.  Help us understand what the real costs of the conference are, not just actual costs skewed by unrecorded donations from year to year.
4. Set up a process to disseminate information: what can be communicated to the chairs and the larger community on a periodic basis.
5.  Look at what many of us anticipate for next summer as the biggest application pull since Bill and Kemp’s conference, and look at what criteria for admissions are, and how can we approach this opportunity to rebuild our base.
6.  Specifically look at the most effective way we can steer people, if we get a wait list, to other conferences.
7.  Consider how to best utilize resources within this room as they deal with issues going forward.  Specifically constituting task forces to deal with specific issues, rather than doing everything within the Exec.
8.  Look into becoming a 501©3 organization and ask Jane Trudeau to help us with this process.
9.  Have firm guidelines for financial aid going forward and what that means.

Annual Fund goal for 2010 – Tillmans
There was discussion about the conference’s goal for the Annual Fund, but no conclusion was reached.  Participants were asked to think, in light of previous discussions, about what the goal for 2010 should be.  This matter will be taken up at the on-island meeting.

Proposed Revisions to Executive Committee bylaws
Proposed changes were presented around including the Treasurer as a voting member of the Exec (as had been previously requested by the Chairs), but after objection was raised about the proposed changes not being far-reaching enough, this item was tabled till a later meeting.  (People wanted the term of the treasurer and the exec inserted into the bylaws, for one).

Financial Aid Fundraising:
A group volunteered to serve as a fundraising task force:  Jane Trudeau, Bill Clegg, Jim  Prochaska, Kim Corfman, Laurie Powsner.  It was agreed that Bill Clegg will convene the group. Bill also complimented the Executive Committee on its work on financial aid and other matters.  The fund raising need is a healthy need, he said, and we should not expect the Exec to do that fund raising.

Marketing and Outreach Discussion:  how do we fill All Star One 2010?
Scott Stewart, who facilitated this discussion, said that he had hoped for a ‘blue sky’ session on how to market All Star I better, Star better.  The business plan for Star Island hangs on serious marketing;  lots of ideas have been passed around.  What ideas are there to help implement some of these thoughts?  Ideas included:

  1. If the island attendance peaked in 2005, what came after that?  We tend to think increase in cost, but perhaps it’s after that.  In our own conference, when did we peak, when did we drop off?
  2. If we are going to have outreach ambassadors, they need to let registrars know that this has been done, because in the past, outreach has been made and people not admitted.  We need to think differently.  (Pre-approval for these people)
  3. We should be careful and make sure that our personal, hand written post cards are encouraging and reach out to people, stating that no promise can be made, but we want people to apply.
  4. Look at statistics and demographic information…looking at ages would be informative
  5. Contact people who are connected to conferences with wait lists and ask them what they did;  don’t just think of this as marketing…some efforts appeal to whoever they can get.  Some places start out low and then jack up their prices.
  6. Make an effort in local congregations to encourage large crowds of people when concerted efforts are applied.
  7. Produce a one-page beautifully laid out brochure or flyer to promote conference
  8. Provide outreach to people who were part of our conference but haven’t been recently:  “We miss you, hope you’ll come back.”
  9. Examine the underlying culture which sends some people to one location and not another.
  10. Focus on personal contact and reaching to the base
  11. Have a Facebook event?  Constant Contact newsletter with images?  Use Web 2.0 technologies?  Video to send out?  YouTube?
  12. People are increasingly needing to schedule and make plans in advance.  We, on the other hand, spend a lot of time planning a conference.  The more we can do to start things in November/December/January, the more this might make a difference.
  13. Produce a DVD with every blue brochure which would help market plans… (Kim:  people don’t look at them)
  14. Star Island was advertised in Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine (more for the island) – capitalize on this?
  15. Plan, and don’t bank on ‘rock stars’
  16. If we do have a wait list, we should encourage the chairs to allot some spaces to new shoalers
  17. There are State of New Hampshire communications…also possibly Yankee Magazine?
  18. We interviewed a couple of newcomers who came last year;  they suggested improvements that might be helpful.
  19. Think about posters with personal contacts on them…if someone sees a name of someone they know, they may be more likely to act.
  20. Target our appeals to the most fertile audience:  people who know of Star Island.
  21. Is it important or not important to do a shotgun approach to people we don’t know?
  22. In marketing, we know we need to approach someone 6 or 7 times.  So we need to start now and keep going.

Scotty observed:  Last year we were undersubscribed.  Annie, Laurie, and Deb Walton made a huge effort to reach people.  Pel Reunion sent out 700 postcards and got 2 people.  What sounds good hasn’t worked as well as expected.

Election of Executive Committee Members (three to be elected, serving November 2009-November 2012

Those continuing are:
Laurie Powsner
Tricia Coleman
Debbie Weiner Soule
Carla Osgood
Paul Jennings
Scotty and Annie Stewart (Registrars, sharing one seat)
Bill Gimpel (Treasurer)

Terms Expiring: (all are eligible for re-election):
Dick Case
Debbie Walton
Pam Pierce

Hal Basdekis, who had agreed to collect nominations in advance, reported that  there were three nominations for the vacancies:

Debbie Walton
Pam Pierce
Kathy Tillman

These three were elected to the Executive Committee by acclamation.

Additional Business

Moved (B. Soule): To accept the Treasurer’s report. Voted.

Announcements:
– 2010 All Star I dates:  June 26-July 3.
– 2010 Chairs retreat at Whispering Pines:  October 15, 16, 17 2010 (these dates were later changed to November 12-13-14).

Closing Words – Bill Clegg offered closing words from the poetry of Winston Abbot (see http://www.librarything.com/author/abbottwinstono for information on this poet).

The meeting was adjourned at 2:45 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Debbie Weiner Soule, secretary

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