2014 Committee Reports

2014 Executive Committee Reports

From the President

It has become glaringly clear that the role of the president is made either challenging or seamless, depending upon the board that supports the common work and mission. The board can either undermine the shared mission by derailing, questioning, offering endless alternatives, OR, share the workload, work in alignment with the mission of the alliance, and be an open vessel to serve. It is my hope that we have finally arrived at the time and place in our evolution as a board to do the latter.

In spite of some lingering lack of alignment in this my second and last year as NHFA Board President, we were nonetheless able to have a profitable conference in Raleigh, NC in 2013, revamp our website including established directories with an increased SEO, develop easy-to-access member info databases, create our first fundraising initiatives, launch a legislative pilot program, publish 6 newsletters, revise our by-laws – including resolving our term limits, launch a biennial conference plan including location and dates for 2015, create a simple NHFA educational how-to guide for our website, and agree to form an Advisory Council as needed. Our teleconferences continue to be successful networking tools and we had our first legislative teleconference as well.

Despite our standard “virtual organization” setting, we were able to have two working retreats this year, and discover that these are critical to our health as an organization. There is no substitute for human face-to-face interaction, and many misunderstandings and much healing of possible breaches are ameliorated in this setting.

I have been able to step down as president knowing that I leave the organization in wonderfully capable and willing hands, with an inspiring retreat in Vermont to begin the continued work. It has been a privilege and a joy to serve our shared mission with my head, hands and heart and I am deeply grateful for the trust placed in me to do so. I wish our organization wisdom, support and harmony as we make our mark upon the world.

Elizabeth Knox, NHFA board president 2012-2014

From the Vice President

  • participation on the Executive Committee
  • leading meetings in the absence of the President
  • proposing and guiding initiatives taken up by the Board
  • updating official documents and manuals
  • updating the Orientation Manual for new Board members
  • updating the Conference Manual
  • acting as liaison to the NHFA attorney
  • providing foundation information re: Advisory Council for the Board
  • coordinating a board retreat in Minneapolis in June, including content
  • providing content for the October board retreat; updating annual reports
  • reporting on ad hoc committee progress
  • providing support and advice to the President

Lee Webster, VP

From the Treasurer and Finance Committee

We started with $18,500 in our bank account at the beginning of the year and currently we have about $10,000. We’ve collected a little more than $4,200 in member donations, and we’ve paid out $6,300 for current year expenses and $6,600 in deposits for the 2015 NHFA Conference in Los Gatos, CA.

We spent the following on mission related expenses –  $500 for printing brochures and decals, $1,000 for website fees and updates, $150 for advertising, and $140 for supplies related to providing outreach at the FCA conference in the spring. $2,700 was spent on expenses related to the board retreat following the FCA conference. We also spent $850 on filing fees, $130 on accounting software, $400 for board development expenses, and $320 on expenses related to the newsletter distribution.

The decision to have biennial conferences has freed up the board to work on mission related activities in years without a conference, but also results in the lack of income from the conference, which we experienced in 2014. We’re looking forward to the October 2015 conference as a way to connect our members as well as generated income to continue our work promoting the awareness of home funerals.

Lynn Barnett, Treasurer

Other Committee Reports

Ad Hoc Committee Reports

In 2014, three ad hoc committees were activated.

  • Nominating undefined to prepare a slate of candidates to the board, completed in August.
  • By-Laws undefined to review the bylaws for 1) any changes necessary to comply with move from annual to biennial conferences 2) any language that could be made more clear 3) revisioning and clarification of term limits 3) cross-referencing with other official working documents for accuracy. Completed in July.
  • Advisory Council undefined after exploration and research, the board voted to form an advisory council. An ad hoc committee was charged with creating a list of possible council members and a list of potential projects. After one meeting, the committee elected to disband, leaving the charge open for a future date.

Lee Webster, VP

Standing Committee Reports

Conference Committee

Based upon the input from a 2013 member survey conducted in December, we’ve forged ahead with planning for biennial conferences, with the next one occurring in October 2015. At the June 2014 board meeting, we set the date and location for the weekend of October 2-4th at the Presentation Center in Los Gatos, CA (near San Jose). The annual board retreat will occur the two days following in the same location.

The theme, preliminary schedule, budget, planning timeline and primary keynote speaker are all set for anchoring conference planning discussions at the October 2014 board retreat with new board members included. The entire board will work toward making the conference a reality, with a few people serving on the conference committee to keep the work in alignment.

Kristine Bentz

Education Committee

The committee’s aim is to educate both the general public as well as our membership who are comprised of mostly those who educate and assist others to provide family directed post death care. To this end the Education Committee:

  • created a Home Funerals 101 document which has a strong focus on building members’ and the public’s confidence
  • has continued to prepare for and facilitate (Heather Massey and Sharon Ponciano) well-attended monthly teleconferences and incorporated a themed informational offering each month that sometimes includes a special guest
  • maintained the Member Support Program

Plan for 2014-2015:

  • to assist the Conference Content committee in creating educational sessions for the next NHFA biennial conference
  • to continue facilitating monthly teleconferences
  • to continue maintaining the Member Support Program and to begin keeping records of the requests that have been filled
  • to create educational webinars to be posted on NHFA website
  • to create a Healthcare Professionals subcommittee
  • to explore other ways for members to connect with one another (e.g. an NHFA Buddy System)
  • to continue to collect relevant resources and assist in maintaining an organized database (NHFA website and Facebook page) with information that is fresh and relevant
  • to collaborate with other NHFA committees on projects which further the organization’s mission

Susan Oppie, Cassandra Yonder, co-chairs

Fundraising Committee

Despite still not having a committee or chair, we did manage to begin putting in place some fundraising efforts. We netted over $1000 from the silent auction and book sales at the conference in Raleigh, but the big news was that we sent out our first annual fundraising letter in December. In order to do that, the Public Relations Committee filled in, creating a mailing list and preparing the letter, stuffing envelopes and mailing them. PR made our need for donations more visible on our home page and at the top of the newsletter. A webpage that allows donors to write tributes to people of mention was put up, hoping to draw more board directors to show support as well as members.

Lee Webster, stand-in chair

Legislative Committee

After the October NHFA Conference in NC we welcomed four new members to our committee, Annette Wilson, Jennifer Thomas, Lydia Lawson, Lucy Basler.

In our monthly meetings individual members of the Committee reported:
meeting with their state rep and administrators to update hospital policies. (Lucy) organizing a meeting of home funeral guides in her state (Lydia) meeting with state senator and beginning to confront the issues around Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS) (Peg) contacting the head of Vital Statistics in her state to question their procedures.

As Chair of the committee, Peg consulted with Josh Slocum and Lisa Carlson about various legislative issues on numerous occasions, responded to inquiries from FL, NC, NJ, PA, MT. This past year we continued toward our goal of having a legislative watchdog in each state. We began a Pilot Project using 9 volunteers who signed up at the conference. We spent months getting the volunteers on board, creating, with the help of Tom Long, a spreadsheet for reporting volunteer hours and following up with individual volunteers. Mid-year we began to have doubts about the viability of the Pilot Project and decided to take time to reevaluate this process with more input from members.

We decided to solicit that input by initiating a legislative teleconference call scheduled for Sept. 28th, 2014 at 8PM EST. Each committee member took responsibility for some portion of the call, writing the invitation, sending it out, presenting various topics during the call. The legislative committee is proud to report that two of our members were chosen and agreed to serve on the NHFA board of directors, Sarah Crews and Zalene Corey.

Peg Lorenz, Chair

Membership Committee

Activities

The main activities and highlights of the past year include:

  • Membership has grown from 138 members to 498!!!
  • The rise in membership is due to the concerted efforts of the whole organization. We would like to acknowledge the work of the PR Committee and the Education Committee in particular for advancing the mission and helping to grow our membership.
  • A streamlined online sign-up process has helped via the website.
  • We would also like to thank Lee Webster for her tremendous help in consolidating and keeping the contact lists current. As well as her work on the newsletter.
  • We also recognize the board members who have reached out to members via talks and conversations and who have inspired people to join.

We both became fairly proficient at using Wild Apricot (WA). This Included familiarizing ourselves with changes that came along with the upgrade in Spring 2014. Clarifying the role of the membership committee was part of our early days.

Our system for fielding membership questions seems to be working well. Kristine Bentz receives any questions via the website and forwards them to us. Problem solving for and with members who needed to change their settings for more public visibility was part of our work early on. This is less of an issue and calls have dropped since WA launched the upgrade. At times, direct phone calls were made regarding support needs or new member questions.

The membership committee is responsible for sending email blasts to the membership for the monthly teleconference. These are sent through Wild Apricot and have worked with mixed results in relatively recent history. However, it seems that WA may have clarified the situation.

Donations

We have also personalized our thank-you note, which is now sent automatically by WA to people who donate to the organization on the website through PayPal. Donations that arrive by mail are entered into the system by one of us via Lynn. Thank you notes and donation receipts for check donations are launched by one of us from WA.

Future activity

Looking ahead, we are thinking about how we can encourage members to be financially invested in the organization. As there is no fee associated with becoming a member, we would like to work together with the new finance or fundraising committee to make a monthly donation (automatic withdrawal plan) part of a seamless donating plan. Included in this endeavor would be to work with PR and Education to emphasize the resources and improve membership benefits.

Zalene C. Corey & Sarah Crews, co-chairs

Public Relations Committee

The following activities have been accomplished or addressed by the PR Committee during the past year:

  • provided direct website design and data entry on a daily basis
  • conducted a complete website revamp, including basic font and appearance continuity, reorganizing information, streamlining, testing links, site-wide increases in SEO, and adding several new pages (Upcoming Workshops, Green Burial, Directories, Newsletters, In Honor Of), as well as continuous entry of new materials and information as it became available
  • developed 3 member databases for use by the PR committee, fundraising, and membership, including: a comprehensive member data in accessible Excel format; a statistical data information tool; and a standard mailing label list for fundraising letters and postcards
  • developed and published directories for public use: Home Funeral Guides, HF Friendly FDs, and Celebrants, in addition to continuous enrollment in the Speakers Bureau
  • represented the NHFA at the FCA Biennial Conference with 2 slide presentations explaining our mission and how we can support theirs; prepared tabling; arranged for home funeral body care demonstration
  • published 6 bi-monthly e-newsletters
  • responded to email queries from members and the public
  • revised and reprinted general brochure
  • updated slide carousel presentation for use by members
  • updated green cemetery list from NHFREA frequently
  • printed decals for member use
  • designed and published advertisements in Natural Transitions Magazine for general use and conference
  • designed conference posters, postcards for Raleigh
  • assisted Conference Committee with conference publicity for Raleigh
  • arranged or participated in interviews for radio and written articles by multiple reporters
  • responded to various blogs and online newspapers with info on home funerals and the NHFA
  • completed a marketing and communications plan
  • completed a press kit for member use