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10/26/2009

Chapter Funding Changes

As we near year's end, the Club is facing continued shifts in our funding. For some time now, unrestricted contributions to the Sierra Club, such as membership revenues, have declined. This has largely been off-set by significant new, but restricted, funding. The shrinking of unrestricted membership revenues has already brought major changes to the way our conservation work is funded and implemented, including downsizing of our national staff.

In 2010 these funding shifts will significantly impact chapter allocations, which for the past four years have been supplemented as net membership revenue fell. The Club cannot continue this supplement. As a result the chapter allocation pool will shrink by approximately 40%-50% from 2009 levels.

Keep in mind that the national allocation to chapters is just a percentage of a chapter's overall funds; across all chapters the median is 38%.  Still, a 40%-50% reduction even to a percentage of a chapter's budget is significant.

The overall Sierra Club financial situation was reviewed with the Board of Directors and Council of Club Leaders during the September Annual  Meeting. Two conference calls have been scheduled to help grassroots leaders who were not at the annual meeting review these data:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 4 —
    3 pm Pacific / 4 pm Mountain / 5 pm Central / 6 pm Eastern
  • Thursday, Nov. 5 —
    5 pm Pacific / 6 pm Mountain / 7 pm Central / 8 pm Eastern

866-501-6174  [1892 - 005]

RSVP here.

In anticipation of a dramatic decrease in the chapter funding allocation pool, the Board of Directors (BoD) initiated a process in July 2008 to consider changes to the allocation formula. Two task forces have wrestled with this task.

As a chapter leader these changes are going to require difficult decisions in the weeks and months to come. To help you understand the changes, why they are happening and how they might shape your chapter’s choices, we’ve set up a new web page on Clubhouse.

http://clubhouse.sierraclub.org/administration/chapter-funding/changes-2009-2010/default.aspx

This web page is divided into three sections.

  1. Chapter Funding Allocation — This section addresses changes in the chapter funding allocation process.
  2. Chapter Fundraising Support Task Force — This section address work happening right now on a Board established task force to identify ways to better supper chapters’ own fundraising efforts.
  3. Climate Recovery Partnership — This section addresses the work that the national Sierra Club is doing to combat climate change, how chapters can engage in that effort, and steps the CRP campaigns are taking to provide funding to targeted chapters to help win.

As you will note, this is still very much a work in progress. All of these sections are incomplete – reflecting the fact that many decisions are yet to be made. Please bookmark this page and check back regularly for updates.

There are many unanswered questions, including "How will this smaller allocation pool be distributed to chapters?" and "How can chapters increase their own fundraising efforts to help mitigate the impact of these cuts?" and "How will the restricted funding raised for the Climate Recovery Partnership campaigns impact chapters?"

Finally, the work that chapters do is at the heart of the Sierra Club’s strength and efficacy. These funding changes are painful for everyone involved. It’s the hope that sharing this information as completely as possible, even before final decisions are made, will help you and your chapter to make the best decisions possible in a difficult time.

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David Scott

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