Hola Familia! Miguel Alemañy here again, bringing much needed good news on the financial front.
Earlier this month, we had our last Board Meeting of the fiscal year. And while we don’t have the final numbers just yet, we do know that SHPE was able to overcome the crisis and came out very solid financially.
In fact, we weathered the storm of the pandemic better than we could have possibly hoped. We came out stronger than when we went in - a true testament to the power of our mission, our incredible staff, and the tenacity of our strategic plan.
I must admit though, in the beginning we were quite worried. The initial impact of COVID halved our IPC partners and membership, and it threw our signature conferences and convention into a virtual unknown. Before the pandemic, SHPE was on a trajectory of significant growth. But this year’s budget, which will close at the end of June, missed our $9 million goal by $2 million. While we were just able to pay all our bills and meet the salary commitments of our staff, we were not able to achieve the financial growth we needed to increase our services to our members.
As a result, for the new year (20/21), we challenged ourselves to reaching a $10 million goal - both to compensate for this year’s miss and put us back on a track record of gains.
After NILA 2020, the most attended ever, our membership and IPC partners came roaring back. And the National Convention, though held completely online, was one of the best we’ve had. While it barely made it financially, it was truly a technical triumph. We were well on our way to recovery.
So, at this month's Board Meeting, when we were assessing our projection for next year’s position, we were shocked to see we had missed our $10 million goal.
To our astonishment, we had actually EXCEEDED it! We are now estimating our 21/22 number to be near $11.1 million - a record for the organization by almost 25%!
How is this possible? I attribute it to 3 factors.
- We have a strategic and stable board.
As I talked about in the last CEO Corner, our board transitioned from one worried about the day-to-day operations and a 2-year horizon on average, to one focused on both the short and long-term strategy of the organization as a whole. We lengthened term-limits and actively recruited members with various needed business acumens and talents. We defined a mission that hasn’t changed in 6-years. With this current structure, we can think about today, the next 5 years and the next 50.
- SHPE knows what it is good at, and focuses on that.
Six years ago, when the organization went through its strategic planning process, we decided we couldn’t be everything for everyone. Before that, we tried to program for students from K-12, and professionals from novice to veterans. We were doing too much and didn’t have the resources to support these overly ambitious endeavors.
So, we decided to focus on the “sweet spot” of SHPE’s influence. We looked at where we were most effective and targeted our efforts there. This ended up being members from 9th grade through 3 years post-college graduation (early career professionals). For anyone falling outside of this demographic, we have started seeking strategic partnerships with other academic institutions and organizations that we can confidently refer members to. This makes sure everyone’s needs are covered, but SHPE is free to concentrate on doing what it does best.
- SHPE is run as a company.
Bottom line, SHPE is a nonprofit profit and will always be. We continue to rely and appreciate the work of our amazing volunteers, and seek donations and grants to support our programs. But we approach SHPE as a business, and critically important, invest in it as such. I believe you have to spend money to make money.
What does this look like? It means upping staff capacity and empowering professionals to produce high-level products and programs. It means re-investing in our organization. It means engaging in a positive cycle of growth. The more money we bring in, the more students we can help. The more students we can help, the more corporate support we receive. The more corporate support we receive, the more money we bring in. And it goes on and on.
All this is to say, SHPE is well positioned for today, tomorrow, and the future - whatever it may bring.
More to come,
Board Chair and Interim CEO