The President's address
31 March 2016
Trustees and other Volunteers
In April 2015 Council had been reduced to only four Trustees – myself as President, Carol White, Richard Miles and Matthew French. Furthermore, replacing the Director with a Manager made it necessary to re-allocate some of the work previously done by our Director with the result that our small team of Trustees was putting in far more effort than could reasonably be expected of unpaid volunteers. To strengthen our team and share the workload, we set out to recruit more Trustees and also other volunteers willing to offer the Society their time, energy and skills on a less formal basis.
Laramie Gwilliam and John Hastings-Bass responded to our appeal for Trustees and were duly elected at the AGM in September. They have brought to Council energy and enthusiasm backed by valuable knowledge and experience gained in their business lives, Laramie in the Civil Service, John in the insurance industry.
Our appeal for other volunteers was equally successful bringing us editors and proof readers for Dowsing Today, assistance with bringing our office IT systems up to date and extra pairs of hands to support our office staff at busy times.
The major theme of 2015-16 has been finance. Richard Miles’ analysis of our accounts, delivered at our AGM, was crystal clear and blunt: excluding bequests, major donations and investment income, the Society has been consistently trading at a loss for at least the last twenty years. As a result, where we once had £250,000 in investments, it is nearly all gone, spent on keeping the Society going. With Council obliged by the rules of the Charities Commission to keep sufficient funds available to cover the Society’s debts should it have to cease trading, action had to be taken quickly as the Society was within months of having to close down.
Closing the Special Interest Group accounts and obtaining permission from the Charities Commission to lift restrictions on the use of the Research Fund has put much needed extra money into the Society’s general fund. Closure has been averted for the time being but it remains vitally important that our on-going drive to increase revenue and minimise costs should succeed in order to stabilise and improve the Society’s financial situation.
Realistically, after twenty years of consistent trading losses including a loss of £49,443 in 2014-15, we could not hope to trade at a surplus in 2015-16. We aimed to reduce our trading loss by 50% compared with last year, but have in fact reduced it by 84%. This is still a loss of £8064 but, with plans in the pipeline for new events and even more cost-efficient working, we have hopes of trading at a surplus in the not too distant future.
Meanwhile, thanks to a generous bequest, donations and investment income offsetting our trading loss, the bottom line of our 2015-16 accounts shows an overall profit of £1196.
We go into the new financial year with a strong and committed Council, supported by a dedicated team of staff in our office, supported in turn by an enthusiastic and growing team of volunteers. Symposium 2016 was an even greater success than last year with a 30% increase in attendance, our Archaeological dowsers have started their season of dowsing and digging, our Water & Site dowsers attended the Malvern Well Dressing Festival and both Earth Energies and Health dowsers
have events planned, courses are well subscribed and initial indications are that demand is high for places at Conference. In short, things are looking up. I thank you all for supporting the BSD by your membership and, if you have sent us a donation, bought from our shop, attended our events or courses, volunteered in any way . . . I thank you even more. You are the BSD and with your continuing support it will prosper and grow.
7 July 2015
Please click here to download the President's 2015-16 address.
The trading loss for the year was £7,965 compared to the trading loss in 2015 of £49,443. This is the lowest trading loss of any year except 2011 since 1997.
When donations and investment income is included the overall result was a surplus of £1,197.
The actions taken to reduce costs resulted in expenses of £138,956 which is the lowest since 2003.
Income was only slightly lower than 2015. Many lapsed members rejoined and new members were recruited. The Symposium, Conference and Courses were well attended and made significant contributions. The shop traded well.
Improvements to the Website are ongoing and the Society has significantly increased its marketing via email and social media.
During the year the Special Interest Groups were closed in order to lift the restriction on their funds in both investments and cash to make them available for the benefit of the Society as a whole. New arrangements are in the process of being set up to ensure the continuing provision of Earth Energy, Water & Services, Archaeology and Health & Wellbeing events.
The Society made an application to the Charities commission during the year for the lifting of the restriction on the Research fund. The Charity Commission approved this application on the 19th April, so all the Society’s funds are now unrestricted as to their use.
Two new Trustees were appointed. The details are covered in the President’s address below.
The financial year 2016-17 has started well and additional initiatives for increasing income and reducing costs are in hand.