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General News · 13th June 2010
Suzan Denis
Community Halls Financial Need Sparks
Collective Brainstorm for Creative Solutions

June 2, 2010, 8:45 pm at the Gorge Hall. It’s my turn to facilitate a brainstorm that looks at solutions in addition to or in place of taxation to address the needs of our community halls. I walk to the front of the room with some in trepidation. The community has been engaged in intense discussion about taxation and the atmosphere is charged with the energy of a process not yet complete. I had a plan for the brainstorm session but I know as I pause and turn to smile at the community it won’t work the way I’d planned it. The primary focus of the evening’s agenda is the taxation question. Nevertheless, the community is game to explore other solutions for 1/2 hour.

It may not have been the right context for such an exploration; I think the topic should have its own meeting where it is the only thing on the agenda, however, some really good ideas came forth. My intention is to express the ideas clearly and correctly. If I’ve made a mistake with any of the details, please let me know.

♥ Consider taxation for core funding needs only. Use other means for raising money for programming. In the past, grants, donations, and service fees have supplemented programs.
♥ Deferred tax: property owners who are 55 can defer paying property tax until the property is sold. The deferred money could be used as a donation and then declared as a charitable tax donation with tax returns. However, note that the Whaletown Community Club cannot give charitable tax receipts. Also, all deferred taxes must be paid with interest if the property owner expires.
♥ Think about deeding a sum of money to the hall(s) through your will.
♥ Create a pledge form independent of membership forms. A separate pledge form could ask for a one-time gift and/or invite people to participate in annual gifting.
♥ Sponsor/coordinate annual events like a walk-a-thon, lottery/auction, pub night, variety show, poker night or a dunk tank with our Regional Director on Cortes Days as a fun way to get involved and contribute financially at the same time. The beauty of events like these is that everyone can give what they have. For some people, time is their gift. For other people who have extensive commitments but who want to offer support, gifts of money, materials, contacts or showing up to enjoy an event are their way of contributing. It all counts.
♥ Anyone interested in the “dark side” of Cortes Island’s history? Seriously, there are some good stories that may even be pertinent to our present times. People like stories and would likely purchase the book.
♥ Set a target for how much money needs to be raised and for what. Monitor the progress using visual aids such as a large THERMOMETER posted on the side of the hall. No amount of money is too small. When it comes from the heart, it is blessed money. Gifts of $25 and more are eligible for a charitable tax receipt and are legitimate expenses to include with tax returns. Again, note the Whaletown Community Club is not a charitable organization. Is there a way to donate to the Whaletown Community Club through another organization that could provide a charitable tax receipt?
♥ Acknowledge volunteers as the backbone of the halls’ successful operation. Volunteer effort needs to be celebrated and extended to include more community members. What strategies could be employed to draw in more of the younger generation?
♥ Embrace an attitude that facilitates inclusiveness, appreciation of diversity, commitment, a truly democratic process, working together, shared vision, strong leadership, and self-sufficiency. These qualities are as important as financial contributions and volunteers.
♥ People who use the hall for an event contribute a percentage of their total profit to the hall. Events such as Friday market pay a nominal table fee as well as contribute a percentage of their profit to the hall.
♥ Combine fundraising efforts. Perhaps the halls, in consultation with organizations that rent space from them, could create policy that mandates one fundraiser per year (or more if desired) and a percentage of or all of the proceeds be dedicated to hall.
♥ Comprehensive user fees: members of the SCCA or WCC pay less than non-members to attend events.
♥ Reach out to a broader influential community and ask for support. When people see that the work they are being asked to fund really makes a difference, the invitation to participate is an honor.
♥ Find out from successful organizations like the United Way how they do their fundraising.
♥ Involve community in decision-making. If a percentage of profits are considered to be a viable strategy ask for input, listen, and arrive at a solution that best represents the community’s comments. When a solution is perceived as being imposed on community, it is less likely to succeed than a solution that arises from a spirit of appreciative inquiry.

Wow! I look back over this list and I’m inspired. Thank you all for showing up to the meeting and to the process. Thank you for being willing to commit to resolution. Thank you for choosing to acknowledge mistakes and forgiving the mistakes of others. When we look back on this period in time, we’ll see what worked. Let’s take what works and build on that.

“When you make a difference with what you have it expands.”
(Lynne Twist, Fundraising from the Heart)

Suzan Denis