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From the President's Desk-November 2014

Last weekend, the board members and leadership staff of SDA Kinship met in San Rafael, California, for one of our face-to-face board meetings for the year. We always hold one board meeting the Sunday morning after Kampmeeting so that newly elected board members can meet the team. Then we usually have one other face-to-face meeting in the fall or spring, and hold the third meeting via WebEx, a web-conference tool. We began holding one of our meetings with WebEx to keep the cost of our meetings low so that donations Kinship receives through members’ generosity can be used for operational costs, projects, and regional events; and so Kinship is able to subsidize Kampmeeting as necessary.

We’ve often held board meetings at a board member’s or regional member’s home, a hotel as a last resort, or a rental property: we meet wherever we can find a suitable and cost-effective space for 14-30 people. Most board members pay their own way to board meeting, and sometimes other members from the region pitch in with preparing meals to help make our meetings as productive as possible.

There have been many years when Fred, our office manager, not only fulfilled all the duties of his role, but also held board meetings at his home, hosted a number of board members there, and made sure we were all fed wonderful, delicious meals. I have no idea how he did all that he’s done for Kinship over the years, but it’s no surprise that he now needs a break from the Kinship office manager role. We can’t begin to thank Fred enough for all the blood, sweat, tears, time, talent, energy, and love he has poured into Kinship. The next time we see you at Kampmeeting, Fred, we want to see you enjoying your time with your Kinship family and not behind a table working away. My heartfelt love and thanks goes to Fred as he starts the next chapter in his life, and I encourage everyone to send him a short Facebook note or an email to thank him for his years of devotion.

During board meeting last weekend, we covered our usual reports from directors and project leads, and also began reworking our organization’s strategic plan. Ideally, an organization’s strategic plan should be revisited every 3-5 years, and it’s been much longer since we have worked on ours. Naveen Jonathan, Kinship’s Vice President, did an excellent job of leading us through discussion of the strategic plan and areas where we need to make changes. Because this is such important work, we‘ll need to meet again face-to-face so that we all understand the direction this community desires to move in from here. So many things have changed since Kinship began in 1976, and we need to stay relevant and healthy.

One of the issues that comes up repeatedly is how to increase members’ consistent monthly support for this community. If each one of our 2,600 members gave just $5 per month, Kinship’s budget would be more than three times larger, we would be able to support more events, subsidize more national and international programming, and create a wider variety of educational resources in more languages for more members of our community. Sadly, only about 50 out of 2,600 members gave through the year last year.

I’m not sure why people think that a small group of donors makes this community flush with funds. We’re making the best of the resources we have and are researching ways to make more. We’re also continuously striving to find ways to make our annual meeting affordable for everyone. Again, if even half our membership gave $5-$10 per month, Kinship could both expand and subsidize Kampmeeting without going into the red. Every single year Kinship subsidizes Kampmeeting, every single year we go into the red, and every single year it is worth the pinch because we want our members to experience in-person connection and high-quality programs. We ask some of our donors to donate specifically towards Kampmeeting, or look for other ways to increase our Kampmeeting budget and scholarship fund to make up the shortfall. But we need more members to step forward so that the work of funding Kinship doesn’t keep falling on just a few people. I give to Kinship because I believe in what it does and I know the benefits it brings to members all around the world. That’s worth supporting.

Another great need this community has is for more members to get involved in Kinship as leaders, whether as international board members, regional coordinators, or as project leaders. An organization like this one can only stay healthy as new people choose to serve. I was part of the group that rewrote the bylaws last decade. We specifically wrote in term limits so that new people would have to participate in various positions and so that no position would get tied to any single personality.

I feel sad that this strategy did not work. Over more than six years of trying to recruit new, long-time, and experienced members to run for office and lead major projects with very little success, we had to do away with board term limits. I’d love to be able to bring those limits back. To do that, we need people interested in being mentored into positions in Kinship. If those of us who have been serving as officers in Kinship all decided we’d been in these positions long enough, or were burned out, who would step up to carry on the work? We care so much for the preservation of this awesome organization that we keep working. We want more colleagues!

What I’m trying to say: Kinship needs you. Kinship needs your time, your talents, your donations, no matter how much or how small. Kinship needs you. Will you pledge yourself right now to find one of the positions or teams in Kinship that you would like to learn more about and work with? Will you decide right now to donate $5 or more each month to Kinship?

You can make a difference in Kinship, and you can make a difference in the world. Thank you for being part of this community. Let’s work together to make the community sustainable.

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Journey - Chapter 1