As we finished our AGM and Board meeting in July 2018, we had a ticking timebomb staring us in the face. With the expenditure rate outstripping our revenues, we realised that it was a matter of time before we would need to close the doors and end the journey that started in July 1997.
It has been recognised that the last three years had been turbulent ones for the Global Speakers Federation (GSF), with the move from Council to Board (which included a re-write of our bylaws and policies) and the rebranding of the Global Speaking Fellow (from the older CSPGlobal). These initiatives had been labour-intensive and had consumed a lot of resources from our volunteer leadership team and Bond as our Association Management Company.
In addition, on the positive side, there had been the introduction and welcome of three new Associations to our fold – PSAN, NSA Sweden and PAPS – helping the GSF to increase our extended reach to over 5,500 (a 2.5% increase in 2018 alone!) speakers globally.
However, we started the 2018 financial year projecting a $13K deficit in budget and inherited a run-rate projection in July 2018 that would have seen us increase our financial deficit to around $20K by December 31st, 2018. This has been in part due to the decrease in Global Speaking Fellow applications (we had budgeted 10 and realised only 4 applications), and a budgeted revenue gain from GSS2018 that was forecast at $5K and unfortunately had not been realised. This was counter-balanced with our projected expenses for the year, which were in line with the budget forecast.
To help us stem the tide of financial losses, we set up a Finance Committee, headed up by Martin Laschkolnig and Steve Lowell, CSP. After a series of meetings by the Finance Committee, and review of the draft 2019 budget with the Steering Committee, we were pleased to announce that significant headway was made to address our budgets, stem our losses and provide a level of growth within our reserves going forward.
The Finance Committee had also recognised work put in place by the Steering Committee and approved by the Board to remedy the revenues on two initiatives that will help to generate the funds to reflect the workload for Bond. These include:
- Increasing the fees for a new Association to join the GSF (that has increased from $500 to $1,995)
- Increasing the fees to apply for the Global Speaking Fellow designation (that has increased to $995 from $499)
During this year, and in the forthcoming year, we anticipated that there will be fewer labour-intensive initiatives. So, with this in mind, we reviewed the budgets for 2019 and saw some positive indications:
- We worked with Bond to review the scope of services provided to the GSF which subsequently reduced monthly contract fees (which covers the admin side of running the Federation)
- We reduced the Presidential travel budget and shared the travel within the Presidential Leadership Team for proximity to events to keep costs down, along with video messaging when travel was not permissible
In parallel to this work, we introduced a Strategy Committee, which was led by Liz Weber, CSP and Tiffany Kemp, FPSA. With their sterling work, we have introduced a three-year strategic plan. It has five pillars:
- Achieve financial sustainability
- Strengthen the Global Professional Speakers Association community through education, networking and collaboration
- Become industry data resource for members and media
- Attain greater global awareness of and demand for the paid speaking profession
- Implement a transition/exit plan
I’m pleased to report that we have seen traction across the Board in these initiatives. I want to thank each Board member (and/or their designate) who has volunteered to head up an area and for their contributions to keep this vision vibrant and alive.
During the year that I served, we have implemented a change in policy that affected the Presidential travel. In addition to reducing our travel budgets, we have shared the workload amongst the Presidential Leadership Team (PLT). Instead of sending me to represent the GSF in South Africa and Namibia, Europe or Singapore and Malaysia, we shared that responsibility amongst the team. For example, it made much more sense to have Shirley, who lives in Singapore, attend the APSS and MAPS conventions, and for Paul to travel from Holland to attend the PSASA, PSAN and AFCP (European) conventions. This has translated to a more fiscally responsible position for the GSF.
In our 2019 budget we have included a new line item of $7,500 to be put in place for additional strategic project execution (for example, projects recommended by the Strategy Committee) beyond the mere administration side of running the Federation.
All this to say, we are confident that we can deliver a positive financial bottom line for 2019, which is expected to produce a surplus of income over expenses in excess of $10K (or even more if we don’t need to tap into the new $7,500 line item)! As you will see from our P&L Statements, we have already delivered $15,123.20 of profit as of June 30th. We continue to track ahead of budget and anticipate this continuing through to 31st December 2019.
The other significant accomplishment was the resolution of the annuity that we had. The initial investment of $50,000 has accrued $12,313.40 of interest as of February 2019. This annuity is now in the name of the Global Speakers Federation, with Shari Bricks identified as the annuitant. The good news, from a financial perspective is that I will be handing over $101,522.63 in assets (as of June 30, 2019) to Paul for the year that he serves.
As I complete this year that I have served, I feel confident that we have financial stability and a viable strategy that can see the GSF deliver value to our members for the foreseeable future. I wish to thank the members of the PLT, Finance Committee, Strategy Committee, Steering Committee, our Board of Directors and Bond for their assistance in making this positive step forward for the future viability of the GSF.
Now I have 372 days – 8,928 hours or 214,272 seconds – left as Immediate Past President (not that I’m counting!).
GSF President (2018-2019)