We are recruiting experienced volunteer facilitators, mediators and coaches for a new Facilitation Support Team. This team will support Sierra Club leaders and leadership teams with an emphasis on three key areas: facilitating or coaching others through large-scale or in-depth planning meetings and retreats; facilitating conflict resolution to help people find solutions and rebuild relationships that may have been damaged by the conflict; and coaching leaders through significant transitions of leadership to help leaders move through a process of change. Express your interest or submit recommendations of others here. Questions? Greg Casini (email@example.com).
Here's a note from Debbie Heaton about recent staff and volunteer appointments within Chapter and Leader Support and the Activist Network:
As a result of the restructuring earlier this year, the following appointments have been made:
Julia Reitan will fill Scott Elkins spot as staff co-lead (Coordinating Pair) for Chapter and Leader Support. Julia will work with volunteer co-lead Debbie Heaton and CLS’s six teams that provide programs and services to chapters and leaders across the Sierra Club.
John Barry will take over as staff co-lead (Coordinating Pair) for the Activist Network filling Julia’s spot and Clayton Daughenbaugh will take over as volunteer co-lead from Bob Morris, who has stepped won. John will stay involved in with the Conflict Resolution Team as a member. Kirstin Replogle has agreed to serve as Activist Network Support Team co-lead, taking Clayton's former role.
Sue Merrow will take over from Debbie Heaton as the volunteer co-lead on the Chapter Assessment Support Team. After the Annual Meeting she will work with Greg Casini on the ongoing analysis of the newly collected data and next steps for the team.
To: Board of Directors, Volunteer Leaders, All Staff cc: Cabinet From: Carl Pope Date: January 30, 2009
We are writing to update you on the Club's finances during this economic downturn. First, thank you all very much for your earnest efforts to reduce our expenses. Many operating units and entities have already cut costs. These efforts will serve us in good stead.
The investment climate has worsened since our last communication in October. Because there’s great uncertainty about how deep and how long the economic downturn will be, we must continually reassess our budget projections. We must adjust our plans as the outlook becomes clearer. The Club's 2009 budget was adopted in November, but it was crafted in early September. That budget is now obsolete and no longer reflects likely 2009 revenue inflows, particularly with respect to unrestricted income.
So what is the current outlook? As you recall, our revenues come from three primary sources - member dues and donations, larger planned gifts, and investment income. Both member donations and investment income are declining, while larger gifts continue on track. But because these large donations come in the form of restricted, not flexible dollars, they cannot be used to pay for our infrastructure and operating costs.
As a result, we need to make additional cuts in our unrestricted expense structure in order to establish a baseline unrestricted expense level that is consistent with our organization's ongoing financial stability. Because of the erosion of our operating surplus, we have no margin for error this year – that is, we have no room to run red ink. As a first step in this effort to ensure we can operate in the black, I have asked each of my operating and administrative units to submit potential expense reduction scenarios of at least 10%. We are hopeful that overall cuts will not have to be this deep, but it would not be responsible for us not to prepare for this necessity in this uncertain economy. And regrettably, it is in fact possible that deeper cuts could be necessary if revenues continue to erode. Our objective will be to meet as much of this goal as possible by reducing expenses in areas that do not impact current staff directly, when it is operationally feasible to do so.
EXPENSE REDUCTION STRATEGIES
As a result of the economic downturn, many, if not most, other non-profits are looking to dramatically reduce their expenses. Many have already announced and/or implemented plans to impose travel, hiring and/or salary freezes and to reduce staff through layoffs or attrition (i.e., not filling many of the positions which open when people resign).
At Sierra Club, we are seeking strategic adjustments that retain our focus on our core conservation, legislative and outreach objectives and that preserve our leadership role within the environmental movement.
That being said, we are looking at similar options and believe, unfortunately, that we will not be able to make the necessary scale of expense cuts without downsizing the workforce. Again, we do not mandate an across-the-board approach, and we will provide guidance to managers to attempt to minimize the scale of the inevitable reductions. We plan on achieving as much of this workforce reduction as possible through attrition in an effort to achieve as much as possible of the necessary reductions that are required to assure our financial stability without impacting current staff.
Some entities or departments may also be able to allow employees to voluntarily reduce their work hours. If and when involuntary layoffs are needed, a voluntary layoff program will be offered in some units, consistent with our bargaining unit contracts. Where layoffs are unavoidable, severance packages that are consistent with our contractual obligations (for bargaining unit employees) or our non-represented employee severance benefit plan will be offered. We will provide more details on these initiatives when they are further developed.
In addition, salary increases or promotions will be fewer and more modest than in previous years. Given the slowdown in the cost of living we are now experiencing, this is a less painful option than it might be in other circumstances.
The Cabinet (i.e., Carl and his senior direct reports) have also decided, that in light of the economic downturn, they will forego salary increases for the second time in three years. The salary increase plan for other managers, supervisors and non-represented staff is currently under review by the Cabinet and will be announced shortly. Of course, contractual obligations for salary increases for bargaining unit employees must be honored in the absence of permission by the bargaining units to amend them.
YOUR HELP IS IMPORTANT
Is there anything that you can do now to help in this current budget situation? Obviously, any immediate reduction in discretionary spending -- reduced travel, delays in capital expenditures, and reductions in meeting or retreat expenditures, in addition to those previously mentioned -- will ease the year's budget. Each department has been asked to undertake initiatives to identify such savings. For staff, reducing the carrying value of your accrued vacation pool will also help our bottom line by reducing our liabilities. Finally, if you have ideas for significant savings that might be achieved in your area please share them with your department head or head of your volunteer entity. We all have ideas about things that can be done more efficiently and in a less costly way.
As challenging as these times may be for us, they will be temporary. We remain a fundamentally strong organization, even if our financial health has waned. Your contributions to maintaining our standards of excellence, each and every day, will help see us through. We will be back in touch with you as we have further developments in our budget circumstances. Thank you for all you do for the benefit of the Sierra Club.
President-elect Barack Obama's calling for a National Day of Service to be held on Monday, January 19, 2009 -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the day before his inauguration.
The Sierra Club was founded on the idea and value of volunteerism and service and it's a tradition that's very much alive today. We're calling on every activist in the Sierra Club to answer this call from our next President, and to participate in this National Day of Service on January 19th.
As we prepare to celebrate the holidays with our friends and loved ones, we are reminded that America is a nation built on community and service to our neighbors.
Right now our nation is facing an unprecedented set of challenges. Barack Obama has provided unmatched leadership during these troubled times and today's call is a reminder that he needs our help to make real change happen.
Across the country, the Sierra Club family is already engaged in a wide variety of service events, like stream monitoring and service outings. Whether you're a new activist or a seasoned Outings leader, will you consider hosting an event on January 19th? We'll be posting toolkits on a few of the top service projects shortly.
Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:
CFL lightbulb distribution Water Sentinel activities (water monitoring, stream testing) Mercury hair testing events Weatherization projects Bike tune-up clinics Free tire-inflation stations E-waste take-back stations Recycling bin distribution Office work * Service Outing (stream clean-ups, trail maintenance) * Inner City Outing * Urban hikes: trash clean-ups
(*If you're interested in organizing a Sierra Club Outing, go ahead and sign up to let us know you're interested in organizing an event, but make sure you also go through the normal approval process for Sierra Club Outings by talking to your entity's Outings chair.)
Talk about vindication! Last year the Sierra Club stood practically alone in opposing—and defeating—a Washington State ballot measure to fund highways and light rail in the Puget Sound area. The Club's reasoning? Roads already had ample funding; what the Seattle region needed was a better, greener light rail plan.
The Club's leader in that fight was Cascade Chapter Chair Mike O'Brien, and Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat was among those who castigated him for "denying the city rapid transit for generations." But this Election Day, when 58 percent of voters in Seattle's 3-county region passed a $17.9 million ballot measure to expand light rail and boost other transit, Westneat was among the first to credit O'Brien for being "exactly right" all along.