From Warren Fraleigh, The Haven's Executive Director
Where has the time gone?? It has been almost a year since I joined the team at The Haven. I’d like to share some of my thoughts and reflections.
First I would like to appreciate everyone I’ve met. Thank you all for your kind and generous support. In my short time here I have come to appreciate the Haven as more than an educational facility that focusses on personal and professional development. It is also a caring and compassionate community that works together to ensure our participants, guests, faculty and staff are making a difference in the world. The Haven is a place that transforms lives. It offers tools for being the best version of ourselves we can be.
Right now, The Haven is engaged in the same soul searching and evaluation that many of you have done in your programs here. We wish to increase our organizational aliveness, moving toward the best version of what a sustainable Haven can be.
Sometimes this means saying and doing difficult things. We worry whether people will draw away from us. We hope that you will all continue to support us as we move forward through this period of "Emergence."
I’m sensing my own vulnerability in writing and sharing this with you. I know how important it is that we have the kind of open and clear communication with you that we teach at The Haven. So here we go…
I have spent a great deal of my time here researching, assessing and evaluating our facilities, operations, programs and finances. I believe we have come to a critical juncture in the life cycle of The Haven. We are at a point that most non-profit organizations eventually face after reaching maturity.
There is a need to renew growth.
The Haven is not likely sustainable in the long term if we continue to do business as we have in the past. We need to make some changes. I have been told that this isn’t the first time we’ve been challenged like this. I do believe that times are different now. A combination of issues have come together to increase our sense of urgency.
To give you a sense of what those issues are I want to share just a few of the things that we are grappling with:
- In 2017, we incurred significant unexpected infrastructure maintenance costs of approximately 350K.
- Our actual program participant nights for 2017 are consistent with or, in some cases, less than the average of the last ten years, indicating little to no growth in registrations.
- In 2017, 19 of our 92 planned programs did not run due to not achieving the minimum registrations required.
- Our 2018 budget is projecting a significant deficit of 170K, based on our historical understanding of revenue and expenses.
Over the last several months we have been rigorously researching our baseline costs for delivering programs, in a way that our business has never been examined before. To our surprise, the programs that you would think generate the most revenue unfortunately struggle to cover the costs needed to operate.
It appears that time has caught up with us – over the years we have tried not to raise program costs more than the annual cost of living increase. We are now looking at reframing our finances to make sure that programs cover the cost of doing business. Therefore, in 2019 you will see significant price increases in most programs.
Those most affected will be some of our long-standing programs. These include our Living Alive Phase programs and our summer-based Kids In The Spotlight program.
We continue to look at all the available options for a balanced budget. We are taking a number of actions to minimize the impact on our Haven community. The bottom line is we only have three areas to work with – raising prices, reducing expenses and increasing participant nights. So here’s what we’ve come up with:
- Come Alive 24 plus 3 – Primary focus on increasing Come Alive participants to 24 per session and adding 3 additional participants in all other programs through:
- New online and social media strategies
- Revamped toolkits
- An exciting new Referral Incentive Program, which we hope will help neutralize cost increases for our most loyal supporters and referrers and the people they encourage to come.
- Reducing expenses through operational efficiencies, restructuring and increasing our cost consciousness and awareness.
- Expanding our curriculum with new programming by exploring new markets and opportunities by dedicating new resources to program development.
- Creating new partnerships with likely and compatible user groups and associations by capitalizing on connector opportunities (e.g., teachers, medical field practitioners, and counsellors).
As a newcomer to the organization there is a risk that with my fresh eyes I may see things differently that challenge the status quo. Perhaps that is precisely why I’ve found myself here. This may be our moment to set a new course. It may be the time to challenge our long-standing practices and approaches to ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of The Haven.
I remain committed to this precious responsibility that I have been entrusted with. I look forward to this new journey in life and this new journey for The Haven. I am optimistic I can count on the continued support of our community in our efforts to bring The Haven into the world.
Thanks for your understanding and continued support.
Executive Director of The Haven