Vietnam Veterans of America
Treasurer’s Report, July/August 2020
BY JACK McMANUS
There might be a light at the end of this tunnel: Across the country, businesses and organizations are beginning the slow reopening process after weeks of shutdown in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The social distancing procedures directed by local governments will determine how quickly VVA chapters and state councils are able to resume normal (or, at least, more normal) functions, but we should not minimize the fact that the challenges we face remain very significant.
Large public meetings, for example, will likely not resume for many months, but your Board of Directors, Officers, and fiscal leaders, including those in your state councils and local chapters, continue to work diligently to guide us through this turmoil. The Membership Department has electronically sent a small survey to all chapters and state councils addressing their membership vitality and financial health since the coronavirus has slowed things down. Information gleaned from this survey will be shared with the BOD and the CSCP to provide a basis for their understanding and direction for future actions.
The VVA BOD approved the FY2021 baseline budget via electronic vote in April with a directive for the Finance Committee and Officers to present a revised FY2021 budget by the July 2020 BOD meeting, at which time we hoped to have a better understanding of the economic effect of the pandemic on VVA’s funding sources. Since an in-person July BOD meeting had to be canceled, that revised budget was prepared, presented early, and approved by the BOD on May 28 via electronic vote.
It is very important for all to note that this is a “survival” budget that required many difficult drawdown decisions and was an uncomfortable process for everyone involved. The expense reductions that are being implemented required painful decisions for all elements of VVA, including making reductions in our national office staff (although approximately 80 percent of expense reductions were in areas other than direct staff reductions).
The bottom line is that VVA was faced with a funding shortfall in excess of $6 million from the baseline budget. After reducing more than $4 million from expenses, it is anticipated that our reserve fund will be accessed for $1.6 million but not exhausted in this fiscal year. With unknown future funding options and resources, our FY2021 budget was designed to leave an adequate reserve to address FY2022 budgeting in some manner.
Our reduction efforts affect all functions of the organization including our Officers, the BOD, the CSCP, and the many standing and special committees. The number and mix of our BOD member makeup needs to be examined for possible change and streamlining, and our standing and special committees need to be reviewed for relevance and possible consolidation.
Other reductions affect The VVA Veteran, employee salaries and benefits, telephone, photocopying, government affairs consultants, travel, and many other cost centers in the organization. Our current fiscal challenges have made it necessary to eliminate many expenditures for the rest of the fiscal year.
The life member reserve fund remains intact and is forecast to continue chapter and state council rebates for several more years unless changed by the BOD.
We continue to monitor every expense on a daily basis and strive to conserve wherever possible. But if further expense reductions are required in the next fiscal year, we will have to look at additional staff reductions and service limitations.
On the brighter side, some of our thrift store HGDP funders have begun opening—but all are under strict restrictions. As household goods solicitations slowly ramp up again, we pray for their success. How the public will respond to requests in still-turbulent times is unknown, but we remain optimistic.
As we look to the VVA National Convention next year in Greensboro, N.C., now is the time for us to consider how the Constitution needs to be changed to make permanent the new VVA economic realities. It is readily apparent that returning to our pre-pandemic structure and operations may never again be economically feasible. Our members will make that decision through their voting delegates to the National Convention.
The manner in which VVA, at every level, can function in a world of electronic meetings and remote voting requirements also must be addressed. We’ve boxed ourselves into untenable constitutionally mandated limitations that pandemic-related social distancing requirements have exposed as substantial weaknesses. Notably, these weaknesses are hurting many of our chapter and state council elections.
Perhaps the biggest challenge we face over the next several months will be rebuilding our significantly downsized operations into an efficient and coherent organization that provides the best veterans programs and services possible in this new economic environment. President John Rowan will address those opportunities in his communications to you.
Thank you to all those who have contacted me with great ideas and thoughts for going forward, along with your loyal support and friendship. It means so much to me and all of us at VVA in these challenging times.
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