When I took on the role, little did I know that it would involve navigating the Foundations finances through the current situation. At times I feel that I offered the Angel of Findhorn a finger and it has ripped off my entire arm! But I feel it is a huge privilege to be here right now. It’s exciting too.
With the onset of Covid-19 restrictions, at the beginning of March the Steward Circle decided to close the Foundation to residential programmes two weeks before the Government-imposed lockdown. We were responding to the risk to the community we saw from guests coming from outside Moray. The decision was vital from a public health perspective but potentially ruinous for the Foundation.
With 80% of income derived from residential programmes, a calculation of our running costs showed that the Foundation needed £600,000 in new funds just to survive until the end of July on the assumption that residential programmes would not recommence before then.
Throughout, we are making sure to communicate clearly about the Foundation’s financial needs with government sources, community members, key Foundation stakeholders and prior funders. We are also including it as part of our online content, social media efforts and even our email footers. This has led to a significant increase in support. As of May 13, I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has participated so far. Your support enables me to report the following:
This initial outpouring is reason to celebrate! Each and every person and institution who has responded to the unprecedented crisis and immediate, short-term need has helped. If you have donated to the Foundation, we thank you so much. We do try to acknowledge every receipt right away, but we are also aware that our system is not perfect.
The warm generosity of the co-worker and Trustee body, the donations that have been received, the loans and deferred salaries (that must be repaid), and the support from the Scottish Govt have given the Foundation the breathing space to July that we needed.
In further response to the worldwide and community crisis, the decision was made to remove all charges from our online Video on Demand Library on the Foundation website. The creativity of the co-worker body in creating new online content – which has been offered free of charge or on a gift economy basis – and new paid-for online programmes has been amazing.
We are not out of the woods – we have only just entered them. The Covid-19 crisis period is continuing for the foreseeable future. Our financial scenarios now stretch 18 months. Tough questions are necessarily asked. We are responding by delving deeply into our purpose and calling, and examining closely how to support them financially.
However, we must also look at the longer view. With that in mind, I am also writing to acknowledge that we will be seeking further significant financial support. It is abundantly clear that to respond to the extended and ongoing Covid-19 challenges, we must seek further funds upward of £1.8m between now and September 2021. Our intention is to ensure that the Foundation emerges from these challenging times thriving and with strength at the heart of this community.
The best way you can support us is to join our monthly giving programme, the Network of Friends.
We also welcome one-off donations.
If you would like to speak to us about legacies, in-kind giving or other ways to give, please get in touch with me (Simon Stedman) at [email protected]