Secretaries across Canada were busy recording, transcribing and distributing minutes, sending cards and letters, updating executive lists and contact information, notifying members of meetings, acting as signing officers for councils, assisting presidents with annual reports, distributing agendas, sending correspondence and e-mails—and these were just a few tasks performed throughout the year. Well-written minutes were essential for councils as they are a concise record of activities and a wealth of information for future generations. Secretaries were the backbone of parish councils and coordinators of information at diocesan and provincial levels. They deserve thanks for a job well done.
Ten provincial secretaries sent reports and included many good suggestions regarding the online reporting system and method of reporting in general. Slightly more than 62% of parish councils across Canada completed the annual online survey. Sadly, some parish councils do not have a secretary; however, another member completed the report for the council. Many secretaries expressed satisfaction in taking on the role, finding it fulfilling and an experience in personal growth. There were suggestions more mentoring by the president and retiring secretary on exactly what was required would have been useful. Receiving condensed reports from chairpersons to include with minutes would also have been of help. For larger councils, whether parish, diocesan or provincial, there was a fair bit of work involved. Some parish council secretaries worked as a team with other members of the executive to get the job done and in some smaller councils, the secretary used her talents to help in many areas.
National office staff performed many of the day to day secretarial duties required of me as national secretary. National Executive Secretary Natalia Bilynskyy typed the minutes of executive meetings and convention. With the help of a minutes review committee, as well as a life member for convention, all minutes were verified and corrected, if necessary, before submission to the executive for approval. Letters required for convention under my signature were also sent to the appropriate individuals by national office.
Treasurers across Canada, from those in small parish councils to those in large parish, diocesan or provincial councils, worked tirelessly to ensure money was deposited, cheques written and expenses paid, so councils knew the financial situation at all times. At year end, 776 treasurers (or designates) filed online reports, representing approximately 65% of councils across Canada. One hundred per cent of provincial treasurers submitted reports and, while some were frustrated by a lack of reporting in the province, I was impressed with the results. The rate of parish reporting in each province varied from 53% to 71%. Approximately one-half of parish councils prepared budgets and 60% of councils had the books reviewed annually. The average membership fee is $25.00. Treasurers recorded transactions in receipt books, updated bank books regularly, balanced the books to the bank statements and submitted reports to the council at each meeting. The size of a council often dictated the complexity of accounting practices and many councils worked to improve these practices. One report recommended workshops for treasurers be held every two years and this might be something for diocesan and/or provincial councils to consider.
The League’s core values of faith, service and social justice are principles that guided members in fulfilling their obligations. Members gave countless volunteer hours in living out these values. These hours cannot be measured; however, funds raised through bake sales, bazaars, funeral lunches, teas, raffles, suppers and other innovative fundraisers (enough to fill two pages in the online annual reports) can be. Donations were as follows: national voluntary funds – $146,709, donations under standing committees – $1,867,035, parish donations – $1,364,755, National Bursary Fund – $7,125, and other donations – $25,541, for total donations of $3,411,165. These are phenomenal figures and are only part of the story as 35% of councils did not report. Whether a council raised $10.00 or $10,000, every member should be proud of the role the League plays in enriching the lives of those in Canada and around the world.
The League’s financial statements show expenditures from operations exceeded revenues from operations by $188,440. While investment income was $69,010, due to the volatility in the market, this was reduced to $12,494 after adjusting for unrealized losses on investments, so the bottom line shows expenditures exceeding revenues by $175,946. Revenues were as budgeted, including a $31,746 (three per cent) drop in per capita fees from 2017. In expenses, international relations were $14,000 higher than the previous year because of the attendance of three executive members at the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations General Assembly. Office equipment was up $71,323 as the capitalized costs of the new computer software contract which was terminated was written off. Operating costs were up because computer support was required to re-establish the previous membership software, and staff costs were up because of additional staffing required when the software was inoperable. The $3,212 increase in office building costs was due to installation of an enhanced security system for the front door at national office. The League’s investment portfolio at year end consisted of $1,099,000 in fixed income investments and $892,855 of Canadian equity investments. As mentioned, equity investments were adjusted to allow for unrealized losses due to market fluctuations.
While this is the second consecutive year expenses exceeded revenue, the League remained on solid financial ground. As a not-for-profit entity, it is expected there will be some lean years. A balanced budget for 2019 was approved by the executive—various cost-cutting measures have been undertaken and some necessary fee increases have been introduced.
As with secretarial duties, day to day accounting needs of the League were efficiently handled by national office staff. My duties as treasurer included presenting the budget to the executive and monitoring income and expenses, presenting a report from the finance committee at each executive meeting, reviewing monthly bank statements and requesting back-up documents if necessary, studying all audit working papers and interacting with auditors, reviewing the investment portfolio, discussing any questions or concerns with the financial advisor and answering certain questions posed by treasurers at other levels. I was also a member of the administrative committee and the bursary committee. I prepared two articles for The Canadian League, memos for parish council mailings and communiqués for secretaries and treasurers.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as national secretary-treasurer. I will continue to work in the best interests of the League.