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ASL VISION 2016
Members have a vital role to play in safeguarding the League's resources for the future. But you can only fulfill this role if you know what's going on. The Vision 2016 board team will develop an enhanced annual report that provides you with true, accurate and sufficiently-detailed information.
The enhanced annual report will improve on the existing two-page summary with essential details on each major League program. You'll learn what the various programs' present goals are, how much each costs to run, how many people each serves, its required staffing and how effective each is at achieving its goals. The new report will also provide you with insights on our institution's endowment investment strategy, discuss porfolio performance and tell you why resources are allocated as they are each year. top
Although the League has some 4,000 members, no more than 400 members can fit into any members' meeting. Consequently, the broad majority of League members have been left in the dark regarding the business discussed at these key meetings until now. To remedy this, in 2016, the Vision 2016 board team will make transcripts and podcasts of both members' and board meetings available online so that all interested League members can update themselves on League business whenever its convenient. top
New balanced budget policies to protect your League's assets.
Today the League offers 10 more classes than it did 10 years ago. Yet, operational spending has ballooned from $4.6 million per year in 2004 to $7.8 million in 2012. That's a 69% increase in just 8 years.
Although the League's endowment is substantial, the Vision 2016 board team believes it shouldn't be freely used to fund day-to-day operational expenses.
The League is a successful institution that owns its own real estate. Sure, we're all about art. But, the League is also a business. In any business, a balanced budget is the baseline of good management.
We expect to achieve balanced budgets through a combination of the following proposals. top
New safeguards to find and cut waste.
To support a balanced budget, we'll work with the staff to develop policies to identify and eliminate any and all wasteful, unnecessary or non-mission related spending.
Aside from being common-sense business practice, sound spending policies are good for fundraising. Its self-evident that donors are much more likely to give to a cause that is both worthy and which carefully manages its resources. No one likes to see their hard earned donations wasted. top
New systems to improve the skills of your League's staff.
As a consequence of its oversight of non-profits, the New York State Attorney General has developed a set of good management guidelines for tax-exempt organizations.
The state's attorney recommends developing job descriptions and process documentation for all posts within the non-profit -- from the executive director's job right down to the unpaid volunteer.
2016 will be a good year for the League to adopt such guidelines. Developing a full set of job descriptions, goals and achievement benchmarks helps ensure that all of our talented staffers are successfully deployed on the League's behalf.
Such documentation brings several useful benefits. It helps with process and performance evaluation, skill-sharing and process enhancement.
Candidate Caraballo's book could be a useful starting point. For instance, the TrainingServer.TV Planner's workbook forms might be helpful to organize, plan and produce both job documentation and digital training materials to help League staff gain new skills. top
An up-to-date mission statement to help you find new creative opportunities.
Tradition is important. Nonetheless, in the increasingly digital world of 2016, maybe its time to review the League's mission. Perhaps appropriate updates can be made to help members leverage the ever-growing number of digital tools and opportunities of the 21st century. Fine arts have always been just one of the ways that League artists have made a creative living. Today, in law, media and architecture, there are all kinds of new, good-paying opportunities for people with both artistic and technical skills. New programs that help point members toward such good-paying jobs would benefit members and positively impact the League's bottomline. top
A far-reaching fundraising plan to keep the League affordable for you.
The Vision 2016 board team plans to raise the League's fundraising effectiveness in three phases: 1) Enhanced Trust, 2) Clear Vision and 3) Targeted Outreach.
Enhanced Trust comes with the policies discussed above, including better financial reporting to the membership, formal policies for balanced budgets and careful spending, and programs that optimize staffing resources.
The Clear Vision phase will be achieved following the mission statement update discussed above. Before potential donors donate sizable sums they'll have some tough questions for us. If we hope to secure their support, we need to articulate our mission, explain why our mission is worth supporting to them and describe viable plans for reaching our goals.
The Targeted Outreach phase will begin with brainstorming sessions with the people who might be most interested in the League's mission; for example, one group might be our 4,000 members. We might also explore ways of securing corporate support for specific visual arts training programs that answer specific skill needs that these companies may have.
Using the feedback collected from these and other target groups, we'd next develop and execute targeted campaigns and events that highlight the particular League contributions that are most meaningful to each donor group. top
Long-term planning to keep your League successful into the future.
The Vision 2016 board team believes that ongoing long-term planning is a core board responsibility. We'll step up to this responsibility in 2016. A long term plan looks forward 5, 15 and 25 years. Each year, the plan should be evaluated and updated.
To supplement the various studies recently contracted out to multiple vendors by the 2014 board, our 2016 board would also internally prepare business studies which examine the cost of the building expansions contemplated.
Last year, the 2014 board said that a building expansion would cost more than $31.8 million. If this is true, before spending any more League money on outside consultants, we should do a lot more in-house work to calculate how many years of classes are needed to justify an investment equal to almost half of our invested resources.
We should also explore and cost out alternative ways of getting more out of the existing building space. top
A study to decide whether recent precedents are what members want for the League's future.
2013 will not be the last time a real estate developer will approach a League board to buy League property. With over 90% of our air rights gone, any future offer is likely to be for the League's core asset: the 57th Street property.
We believe a number of harmful new precedents have been set in the past year as a result of the so-called "Extell Opportunity".
First, future boards now have a playbook for executing confidential binding contracts prior to any member vote.
A harmful legal precedent was also set that a future board could now use to force members to decide key voting issues, like real estate, based on deceptive or even false information.
In the months leading up to the February 12 vote, League members were repeatedly instructed that "Not voting equals a NO vote", via multiple on-site materials, mailings, phone calls or E-mails.
In fact, this instruction was false. No abstaining member of any type was counted as a "NO" vote.
Consequently, just 34% (1,342 out of 3,945) of League members approved the "Opportunity".
As League members, we need to decide whether we'd really like to see such tactics used in the future.
How would we feel about a future board signing a contract to sell our 57th Street building just three weeks after informing the membership that they were considering such a deal? The time to discuss such real possibilities is now -- before they occur.
The Vision 2016 board team plans to convene a committee in the new year to discuss these precedents and their future impacts. The commitee will consist of League members, staff, instructors and board members. After deliberation and study, the committee will prepare an appropriate set of recommendations on how to safeguard League assets and involve the membership in such major decisions in a timely and appropriate manner. top
New processes to control the high cost of professional services.
In the past 18 months, the League has become a major buyer of costly professional services.
In a recent US Treasury Department study (linked here), invoices from the Venable law firm were used in a case study discussing what not to do when buying legal services. Venable is the same law firm that represents the League's board.
The case study was followed by a set of recommendations. Going forward, the Vision 2016 board team recommends that the League adopt the Inspector General's recommendations for overseeing the professional services we buy.
The IG's recommendations include the following: