Growth in Numbers

This article explains General Council’s ambitious plans for growth and why they need the movement to get behind making sure that the Woodcraft Folk survives the next 5 years. There is a video introduction as well as a more details commentary for members to read at their pleasure.

Watch the introduction video here

 

Hello there,

My name is Lloyd and I'm the chair of the Woodcraft Folks General Council. I'm here to talk to you about the finances of the folk. Many of you will know that folk finances have not been as positive as we would have liked in the last few years where we have made year on year losses.

A number of issues such as moving to a more appropriate but more expensive office, the loss of many of our groups and the rising costs that everyone is facing in society have caused us losses over the last 2 years of around £70,000 per year for the central organisation.

Firstly let me reassure you that we are not in any immediate danger, we have a large network of groups, districts and regions/nations all of which have considerable resources that we can call on to make sure that the whole movement survives. However we need to have strong central reserves as well and we believe that the ways things are going in 2012 we would have none of those reserves left.

The General Council met at the end of 2010, and knowing the situation, we developed a 5 year plan to start to build up the movement. We originally looked to see what would happen if we continued the way we were - would things just naturally pick up?

As you can see on the blue line there was no improvement and our reserves soon out strip the agreed overdraft with our bank so within 5 years we would  become insolvent. We then explored what would happen if we cut our national office, services and staff so that we could make drastic savings. This was not much better. In the red line while our demise is slower, it is no less deadly and within 5 years the national movement is still insolvent.

We therefore had to make sure that we grow as well as making sure our expenditure doesn't rise.  You can see how we distributed our expenditure in the graph for the next 5 years. Just like with the national economy we had some heated debates about the best way to get growth, but in the end we agreed that we need in invest as well as build the grassroots of our movement so that we are all stronger.

We therefore agreed many ambitious targets for growth. These targets are not just targets that General Council sets and then forgets, these are the targets that we all as a movement need to reach so that we are both viable and a movement which reaches the children and young people that really need it.

As well as looking at grants, re-founding our relationship with the Co-operative Movement and the Trade Union movement, we also agreed that we need to be self sustainable and that money from grants and the wider movement should fund additional work. We therefore set out targets in the following areas:

1 - Group Numbers
2 - The Group Fee
3 - Group Sizes
4 - DF Membership
5 - Adult Member
6 - Training Services
7 - Centres
8 - Campsites
9 - Fundraising

I want to briefly talk you through these targets so that you are clear what we are aiming at and can with your General Council get behind re-founding our movement on a stable base.

GROUP NUMBERS

We recognised that over the last few years we have lost large numbers of groups. This is due to a number of factors, but the first issue was to halt and reverse the shift.

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

YEAR

300

320

320

352

387

426

NUMBER OF GROUPS

In 2010 we had 300 paying groups (DF and Woodchip groups didn't pay), in 2011 Woodchip groups started to pay the national fee of £125 and we therefore had 320 paying groups, our aim was to retain the same number of paying groups in 2012 and then from 2013 start growing groups year on year by 10%.

To do this we will be investing in training programmes, group support and developing a buddy system to help weaker and new groups to grow. This was one of the most ambitious targets in terms of growth but it gives us a modest increase in finances from getting £30,000 in group fees in 2010 to getting £54,537 in 2015.

THE GROUP FEE

For a number of years we have operated a flat rate system for group fees. This has seen a steady increase in group registration fees which in 2010 stood at £100. It was agreed at Annual Gathering 2010 we would increase to £125 in 2011.

We recognised that this flat rate made it hard to get groups to set up as there was always an obstacle for smaller groups and it harmed the weakest groups the most - it was not progressive.

Annual Gathering therefore agreed to change the fee system for 2012 onwards so that groups (excluding DF groups) pay a £50 flat rate fee and then pay an additional £5 for each child and young person that attends their group. While the General Council was concerned that people may under-report, we were convinced that incorporating a yearly badge system for our young members will make it harder to avoid the new fee and there would be some flexibility in the system.

At the average group size of 15 children per group this would therefore give us the same amount (£125) as in 2011 but it would allow those smaller groups to contribute what they can while larger groups with larger capacity could show solidarity to the whole movement.

GROUP SIZES

With the restructured group fee a focus from General Council then lies on getting an average group size to increase. Initially this is very modest, but we believe in future 5 year plans a larger focus can be put on this.

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

YEAR

15

15

15.2

15.3

15.5

15.6

AVERAGE GROUP SIZE

From 2012 we envisage an average group size increase of 1% but this will be important in making sure that our smaller groups are reaching the average and are supported in doing so. Our centre network has committed to making sure that it twins up smaller groups so that they are able to use the benefits of our centres and we will be able to use that as a starting point of group growth.

DF MEMBERSHIP

DF groups currently do not pay any central fee in recognition that all DFs should be centrally registered as individuals and pay a minimum fee of £10 per person per year. We are aware that there are many more DFs than are registered: we have fewer than 300 nationally registered but have 500 booked in to attend CoCamp so, clearly we need to work on this.

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

YEAR

276

304

334

367

404

445

NUMBER OF DFS

We aim to steadily increase DF numbers year on year straight away by 10%. Part of the strategy to achieve this is the introduction of 5 year membership for DFs as this will allow them to remain members more automatically at a time when they are moving around a lot. We believe that this is very achievable and will strengthen our movement for the future as you have young people taking on roles to support the local groups. DF Committee and their own work has also focused on getting the District back into DF and this is all part of a strategy of engaging DFs who may not have grown up in the moment, but are willing to commit to our project of progressive education. While this only gives a modest increase in the finances, it will enable us to develop for the future.

ADULT MEMBERSHIP

With more groups, we believe that more members will join the national movement, also the under-used supporter membership category will be overhauled so that more people who may not work with a group but are supportive to our political approach join as supporters and donate regularly to our activities.

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

YEAR

2,195

2,495

2,535

2,662

2,795

2,935

NUMBER OF ADULT MEMBERS

This plan sees 10% growth in the first few years, which we expect when we run national events such as CoCamp. We then expect that to reduce down to a 5% growth in the final two years of the 5 year plan. This is very achievable if we have the group growth.

The Adult fee will also be reformed, with the introduction of Direct Debit and the proposal which will come to Annual Gathering 2012 to change the fee to a form of donation. We hope that as this will be possible to pay in monthly instalments it will mean a larger total amount will be paid than at present.

Our projections looking at similar organisations look at the average annual donation. Presently the average annual fee/donation is £19.70 as some pay an unwaged fee of £10 and others pay the full fee of £25.

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

YEAR

19.70

21.70

30.30

42.50

44.60

46.80

(£) AVERAGE ANNUAL DONATION

This must be one of the most optimistic projections, but we are confident that moving over to a monthly donation will allow this to be achieved as many people will offer to donate around £5 per month, which we will recommend. In other organisations this has worked and already with a simple adjustment in the membership renewal form where people are asked for a donation, around half of people have obliged a small donation.

These ideas will see income from adult membership fees rise from £43,000 in 2010 to an income totalling £136,500 in 2015.

TRAINING SERVICES

Presently we have some very good training, but we either don't offer it enough or fail to charge to external providers who find our training useful. After a visit to the Finnish comrades where they operate a similar system, we aim to widen our training provision for the public. This should have two advantages: one increase our recognition and income from training and secondly get to new people who may stay and run groups.

Presently we get nothing from our trainings. With a baseline set in 2011, we then aim to start increase our income from training and the number of people we train, getting £10 above our costs for each training that we provide.

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

YEAR

-

500

600

1,000

1,000

1,000

NUMBER OF PEOPLE TRAINED

This will give us a new income of £10,000 by 2015.

CENTRES

In the broadest sense we would like to see centres as part of the engine of growth of Woodcraft Folk group work. This could involve some of the activities that have already begun, such as providing sleepover weekends that link up smaller groups and give them an opportunity of a well-supported first weekend away. It could also be developing a permanent training team at the centre who are able to schedule regular training events for young leaders.

We have written to all centres and asked them how they want to contribute. Some centres will have a greater capacity to contribute to this than others; it may be possible to offer some of this in kind for core national work, such as a free weekend for a General Council meeting or a TREE training week; it may on the other hand be a bed charge that you decide to implement at your centre.

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

YEAR

-

-

6,000

7,500

7,500

7,500

(£) TOTAL CENTRES CONTRIBUTION

CAMPSITES

Our campsites equally have a capacity to support our growth plans. Some of our sites will be used for training camps and activities to get young people starting to run groups across the country. Equally we recognise that the Campsite network is both smaller and has less of an opportunity to give large amounts of money to the national movement. They do however receive a service and support from the national movement, and should contribute to that just as smaller groups are expected to.

We therefore propose an amount which should be shared with the Centres network and could be paid in kind: campsites should contribute in what ever way they can.

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

YEAR

-

-

1,000

1,500

1,500

1,500

(£) TOTAL CENTRES CONTRIBUTION

FUNDRAISING

The development of regular appeals and also fundraising is an important strategy that other charities use and we must also tap this source of funding. General Council have committed to employing a fundraiser and membership donor development staff member.

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

YEAR

15,000

16,500

18,150

19,965

21,962

24,158

(£) TOTAL FUNDRAISING

OVERALL UNRESTRICTED INCOME

This will mean that our total unrestricted income (excluding the grants that we get from the Co-operative and the Trade Union movement) will increase year on year, and over the period by £158,886, building up our national reserves as you can see in the green line on the graph.

You can also see the distribution of our income and expendature in the comming years in the graphs further down on this page.

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

YEAR

91,000

111,856

151,640

200,228

218,930

239,563

(£) TOTAL UNRESTRICTED INCOME

I hope that you are as excited with these ambitious growth targets as we are, but also that you understand why it is important that in these hard times in Britain we do not just roll over and let ourselves be defeated. The dreams that we educate about, a word based in co-operation and peace and built on environmental, economic and social justice are not just an idle dream, they can be a reality if we grow our movement so it is a mass movement for all young people and for a real alternative to the neo-liberal world that our young people inhabit today.

I am clear that this is not just an idle dream but something that we must achieve for the future of all young people and children. I hope that you agree.

Speed the adventure, Blue Skies

Your chairperson,

Lloyd Russell-Moyle

You can contact the Finance and General Purpose Committee with any questions that you might have about these figures and projects on fgp@woodcraft.org.uk