Secretaries across Canada learned new skills and used ingenuity and creativity to record and transcribe council minutes. One reported using a voice recorder to keep track of council meetings, many encouraged those reporting to give them a copy of their report, and some learned new computer skills. The online survey indicated 53% of secretaries were elected, 41% were appointed and six per cent of parish councils had no secretary. Thirty-nine per cent were both the recording and corresponding secretary. Many secretaries were longstanding members and had previously held the position while 20% had been members for five years or less. Only 60% of secretaries were signing officers for their parish council. Secretaries reported many challenges which they worked to overcome. Those challenges included balancing their League duties and work responsibilities, completing the online survey, summarizing lengthy reports, dealing with extraneous noise during meetings and remembering details of oral reports. However, they also felt they had an increased knowledge of the League, were encouraged because of mentoring support received from more experienced members and felt satisfaction in a job well done.
Diocesan and provincial secretaries reported that, on occasion, the position required a considerable time commitment. However, they also reported satisfaction in their work and practical ways they found to improve efficiency. They felt parish secretaries could use more education, particularly with basic computer skills, as well as a comprehensive list of the responsibilities required of them by their council. An excellent suggestion was made that secretaries should always have documents proofread before they were circulated or released.
National office’s executive secretary performed an outstanding job in providing all the daily secretarial duties the League required. This included all routine correspondence sent under my signature as well as transcribing minutes of executive meetings and the national convention. Minutes were then forwarded to the members of the minutes’ review committee and myself for verification and adjustment, if necessary, before circulation. I prepared two memos for secretaries for the parish council mailings during the year and responded to e-mails directed to me from members.
All provincial treasurers submitted annual reports which greatly helped in the completion of this report. While reporting was down in some provinces, the overall number of reports was consistent with previous years. Some parish treasurers still reported problems accessing, saving or printing the online survey. More than one-half of parish council treasurers had held the position before; they also tended to be more mature members. Bank statements, chequebooks, deposit books and ledgers were the preferred method of keeping track of financial records. However, computer programs gained popularity in some areas, particularly at the diocesan and provincial levels. Books were updated regularly and financial reports were presented at general meetings. More than one-half of parish councils reported memberships were collected in December, although February was still when most memberships were sent to national office. Almost all parish councils required two signatures on cheques and had more than two signing officers. Just more than one-half of parish treasurers prepared a budget, which was then presented to the council for approval. About one-half of parish treasurers had the books reviewed annually, although many were only able to have this done biennially. Problems in finding someone to perform the review was the main reason this was not done on a regular basis.
When it came to fundraising, the sky was the limit—if it could be thought of, a parish council used it to raise money to help others. While bake sales were still the most popular fundraiser, others included exercise classes, line dancing, Zumba® classes, trivia night, movie night, missal sale, parish brunch, community barbeque, rock-a-thon, Praise the Lord concert, yard sale, paint nights, Mother’s Day dinner/dance, purse, scarf and belt sale, and spaghetti dinners. A small number of parish councils reported they did not fundraise, which was perfectly acceptable.
Once again, parish councils were extremely generous in financially supporting many organizations and causes. A total of $98,442 was donated to the League’s national voluntary funds, $7,788 to the National Bursary Fund, $1,971,072 under the various standing committees, $1,137,780 to parishes, and $28,692 in other donations for a total of $3,243,774. This was impressive—in fact, it was phenomenal—and it represented only part of the whole as some councils’ efforts were not included. When the priceless cost of countless hours of volunteer service was considered, members could be proud of their contribution to their church, community, country and the world.
The League’s financial statements showed that, from operations, net revenue exceeded net expenditures by $9,937; after adding investment income, total revenues over expenditures were $118,000. Regarding revenue items, as has been the trend, per capita fees decreased by two per cent. National convention registration fees were up $39,000 as the fee had increased from $50.00 to $100.00. Investment income was up for the first time in several years as the market value of equity funds increased. The investment portfolio at year end consisted of $871,500 in fixed income investments and $923,742 in equity investments for a total of $1,795,242. This was down almost $200,000 as investments that matured at year end were not renewed but were retained as cash. A change in investment advisors was made at the end of the year in order to benefit from more personalized investment advice in the coming year.
Regarding expenditures, most were comparable to 2018 and in line with the budget. Overall, expenditures were almost $84,000 under budget. Under League development, council requests for development funds decreased by $14,429. Promotion costs were higher due to additional costs associated with the centenary coffee table book. Strategic planning expenses ($37,361) were shown as a separate line item with an additional amount spent on an in-person committee meeting ($7,023), a mailing to all spiritual advisors ($4,510) and staff support to committee members ($26,016). National executive expenses were $17,408 below budget due to reduced costs for mid-term executive meetings, postponement of the fall trip to government due to the election and attendance by the president at fewer diocesan conventions. Operating costs were below budget as computer support was not required. Staff costs were down $42,464 as one employee left in May and two part-time employees retired at the end of June. These positions were filled in November.
The daily accounting needs were ably performed by the executive director and senior accounting clerk. Monthly bank statements and financial reports were sent to me for review. A detailed analysis of the audit working papers was performed, and the audited financial statements were verified before submission to the board for approval. With assistance from the executive director, a budget was prepared and submitted to the board. A communiqué was sent to secretaries and treasurers, two articles were written for The Canadian League and two memos to treasurers were prepared for the parish council mailings.
Thank you to all those who served the League at the various levels as secretaries and treasurers. Well done, good and faithful servants.