2017 Annual Report
Secretaries across Canada worked hard taking and transcribing minutes, distributing documents, updating executive lists, keeping in touch with their members, learning new skills and increasing their League knowledge. It has been a challenge for some as the level of technical expertise varies among members; however, all are doing their best for the good of the council. Some provincial secretaries reported increases from 2016 in the number of parish councils completing the online survey as members adjust to this new way of reporting. There were still some technical problems; however, generally reports were positive with respect to online reporting.
Provincial council secretaries summarized the responses of parish councils to online questions and a number of responses deserve mention:
• on average, approximately 15% of secretaries held the position for more than six years
• about one-half of secretaries were signing officers in their council
• motion books were not common in councils but some reported interest in starting one
• good Internet access was not always available throughout the province
• most secretaries still recorded minutes by hand at the meeting
• recording secretaries appreciated receiving copies of reports given by the executive at meetings
• e-mail was used increasingly to circulate minutes to members
• clearer guidelines on the procedure for archiving minutes would be appreciated
All reports received were most informative. Some raised questions on different procedures or requirements which need to be clarified so parish council secretaries have a better understanding of their duties. While there were problems with access to some information in the online reports, provincial council secretaries are to be commended for their work in submitting the reports.
My role as national secretary would be quite demanding were it not for the dedicated staff at national office. They performed all necessary tasks regarding letters or memos sent with my signature. At national executive meetings and national convention, two provincial presidents sat on the minutes review committee with me. All meetings were recorded and transcribed by the executive secretary who sends them to the committee for review. At the annual national convention, Life Member Carol Richer most ably assisted the minutes review committee for business sessions of the convention.
The provincial council treasurers’ reports provided a snapshot of information parish councils submitted through the online reporting system. Completion of reports by parish councils in each province varied from 38% to 69%. Most treasurers submitted a report of revenues and expenditures at each meeting. Some councils completed budgets and had the books reviewed annually. One comment which struck me was the report made by a parish council treasurer that “our council is small but mighty.” This is an important point to consider in analyzing any data.
Because of problems encountered with the data collection system, provincial council treasurers did not receive all financial information normally available to them. However, the executive director was able to provide me with certain figures and they are impressive. Parish councils reported total donations of $224,968 to the five national voluntary funds – Catholic Missions In Canada (CMIC), Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), Coady International Institute, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) and Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC). Donations were down for CMIC by $3,800 and for CNEWA by $5,000, while donations were up for CCODP by $1,795 and for EPC by $2,075. Donations for Coady remained the same as in 2016. Amounts donated under the various standing committees totalled $1,679,194 and donations to parishes totalled $1,160,819. These figures total $3,064,981 but are only part of the story as not all parish councils filed reports.
The League’s financial position for 2017 was stable. Investments total $2,108,102, with $1,044,000 in fixed income investments and $1,064,102 in equitable mutual funds with a socially responsible focus. Revenues, which totalled $1,289,251 remained virtually unchanged from 2016, with a decrease in per capita fees of $31,278 offset by an increase in product sales of $32,796.
Expenditures were up $40,965 from last year but were considerably under budget. Regarding the annual national convention, it should be noted meeting room costs of $37,000 were omitted in the 2017 budget so this expense is right on target. Convention costs for 2017 were higher than those for 2016; however, this was expected as the convention was held in the birthplace of confederation during Canada’s 150th anniversary year. Expenses for international relations were down $9,000 from last year as no international conferences were attended and the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations North American regional vice-president had just one trip to Rome. Magazine costs were $23,000 below budget as an anticipated postage increase did not take place. National executive expenses were right on budget.
The League had a net operating expense of $101,963 which was reduced to a net operating expense of $39,341 by investment income of $62,622. It is important to note that other than in 2015 when the League made a significant donation to the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation, the last deficit incurred by the League was in 2011. As a not-for-profit company, net income years must necessarily be offset by planned negative years as long as those negative years were not intentionally wasteful.
During the past year I reviewed the League’s financial documents monthly and reviewed the annual audited financial statements before approval. National office staff provided me with any supportive documents I requested and were available to answer any questions I had with respect to all financial matters of the League. With membership continuing its downward trend and certain expenses continually increasing, the finance committee has looked at ways to reduce costs or increase revenues while continuing to provide services members expect. These are exciting times for the League as members look forward to the centennial year and continued service to the people of God for the next hundred years. Inspired by the Spirit, nothing is impossible.