2015 Year End Reports

2015 Member Meeting Agenda

Sunday, October 4, 2015, 9:00-10:30 am | 2015 Member Meeting Minutes

  • Opening, Claire Turnham
  • Move to Accept 2013 Annual Meeting Minutes, Kristine Bentz
  • My, How We’ve Grown! Lee Webster
    A visual walk through the past two years, our challenges and accomplishments
  • Move to Accept Committee Reports, Lee Webster
  • Committee Chairs Address the Membership Chairs
  • Request for this year’s committee volunteer sign-ups
  • Approval of New Officers, Zalene Corey
    • Lauren Harris-Carroll
    • Terry Skovronek
  • Acknowledgement of Outgoing Officers
  • Visioning the Future of the NHFA, Trish Garrigan
    Please bring your thoughts, concerns, hopes and requests forward at this time
  • Closing song, Sarah Crews

2015 Committee Reports

Executive Committee Reports
— Lee Webster, President

From the President: This past year has presented many opportunities for the NHFA to move forward with its mission, and the Board has taken advantage of all of them. Transitioning from Beth Knox’s leadership of the NHFA in October of 2014, our newest board members hit the ground running. Before we knew it we had a new website, new system for tracking members and donors, a new mail program, and the list goes on. All of these changes have positioned the NHFA right where we need to be: as the Number 1 resource on Google where, let’s face it, most people will be finding us. We are working to strengthen programs and benefits for members and the public, while engaging in productive conversation with other individuals and organizations who share our interests and values. Thanks to all our Board chairs and committee volunteers for a great year with so much more to come.

Finance Committee

From the Treasurer: We started January 1st with $8,475 in our bank account and currently we have about $51,144, which will thankfully cover the substantial costs of the conference plus overhead for the coming year. We have received over $3,500 in donations thanks to our generous members who have sent outright donations and participated in fundraising programs such as AmazonSmiles. We have also received significant funds from royalties earned when two new NHFA books, Essentials for Practicing Home Funeral Guides and Planning Guide and Workbook for Home Funeral Families, are purchased.

Ad Hoc Committees

In 2015, three ad hoc committees were activated.

  1. Nominating — to prepare a slate of candidates to the board, completed in August.
  2. By-Laws — to review the bylaws for membership percentages to make up a quorum,
  3. Processes Committee — to review processes for receiving mail and processing donations. This committee is closed and we have a tentative process in place.

Conference Committee
— Kristine Bentz, Peg Lorenz, co-chairs

  • Secured conference location and all contracts/ payment schedules related to site; coordinated with treasurer to develop conference budget;
  • Planned conference content in response to NHFA member survey taken in Dec 2014;
  • Secured keynote speaker and other guests speakers; coordinated with all board members to distribute some of the work load of conference planning, namely with PR, fundraising, volunteer recruitment and communications;
  • met monthly or more to develop and work through planning timeline for conference preparations, plus meet deadlines like developing and opening online registration, etc.; supported recruitment and facilitation of volunteer involvement with serious help from other board members;
  • coordinated with Presentation Center to develop food and lodging schedules;
  • handled public and member requests for information about registration, lodging, etc.

Education Committee
— Anne Murphy, Chair

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:

  • continued to prepare for and facilitate monthly teleconferences incorporating a special
  • created two educational sessions for the upcoming 2015 NHFA Conference
  • established 3 community art projects for the 2015 conference
  • created a new book list that includes suggestions for children’s books

Because education is an integral part of every committee’s work, it was decided to increase efficiency and effectiveness by reassigning the committee’s activities to other committees who have the resources to complete the tasks. The education committee was dissolved and the charter and activities were absorbed in to other committees for 2015-16.

Fundraising Committee
— Sara Williams, Chair

The fundraising committee was formally formed at the Board retreat in October 2014 and Sara Williams agreed to serve as Chair. The first order of business was to make membership in the National Home Funeral Alliance (NHFA) FREE! This action will hopefully encourage all members to become more engaged with NHFA as well as more financially supportive.

  • The annual holiday appeal “ask” letter was mailed out in December 2014 with a goal to raise $5000. We netted $2940 from this campaign (using end of February 2015 as cutoff
  • The fundraising committee has also been focused on getting vendors and sponsors for the biennial conference in October 2015. This includes the silent auction as well, which was a big success at the Raleigh conference in 2013.
  • We also created the “Veterans Challenge” where we invited our members to do a presentation on home funerals to Veterans in their states. While this did not necessarily include an automatic monetary appeal, the hope was that people would choose to donate to NHFA in honor or in memory of Veterans.
  • All NHFA members have been encouraged to sign up for “AmazonSmiles.com” which means every time they make a purchase on Amazon.com, we get a portion of those
  • Our website now features “ProPay” which actually takes less in fees that PayPal. This means that every time there is a donation to NHFA more of that money goes directly to
  • A new page was introduced on our website where people can make donations in memory or in honor of someone or some thing/event (i.e., new green cemetery).

We continue to brainstorm about ways to raise money for the NHFA in the future. This may include the sale of items like scarves, coffee mugs, recipes, and other accessories with our logo. Direct appeals could also be done twice a year rather than just annually. Another option is “Super Events,” a fundraising tactic that some non-profits have started borrowing from political fundraisers. With these events, you recruit lots of event hosts to hold a small fundraising event on behalf of NHFA on the same night, and all around the same theme. The events are often tied together by a conference call with the non-profit’s key supporters, board chair, or executive director, or by a live Internet event or video call. (Super events work because they leverage your efforts… in many cases, the amount of time you would spend on supporting hosts who want to hold small ($500-$5,000 net) fundraising events may not be worth the return. However, using super events, you can support a network of hosts who are each raising money for your group, with much higher returns. For example, you may hold a super event to launch your new fundraising campaign where 10 event hosts each hold an event and raise an average of $2,000 for your organization. If each host held a separate event scattered throughout the year, your staff may spend a total of 30 hours supporting these events (3 hours spent X 10 events). With a super event, your staff may only spend 10 hours supporting the whole effort, and raise the same amount. In fact, super events normally raise more money than individual events, because of the increased buzz around the effort.)

Legislative Committee
— Peg Lorenz, Sarah Crews

The Legislative Committee has enjoyed a small, yet devoted, group of avid participants who met on a monthly basis throughout the year. We started out taking a hard look at the effectiveness of the “bill tracker” program implemented the previous year. Changes to existing bills and the introduction of new bills related to funerals, cemeteries and other “key-words” entered into state’s legislative search tools, proved to be very few and far between. Therefore, the committee decided to formally discontinue the bill-tracker program but continue to check in occasionally within our own states.

Legislative issues related to family’s rights at death continues to be of great interest to our membership. Recognizing the success of the monthly teleconferences, the committee decided to host a bi-monthly (every other month) teleconference specifically addressing legislative issues. Our invited guests included: FCA national director, Josh Slocum, MN Rep. Carolyn Laine and Joyce Mitchell, President of the FCA in Utah. One call was a discussion of the Electronic Death Registration System. Legislative teleconferences were well attended and lively. After taking the summer off, the committee may decide to implement the bi-monthly teleconferences again provided we continue to find topics of interest to the membership.

Another program in the planning stages is forming regional “street teams” to identify policies in our own communities that may limit family’s rights and be in conflict with existing legislation. Committee members outlined street team activities and local organizations to educate and connect with regarding home funeral rights.

At the national conference in October the committee looks forward to welcoming new members. The legislative committee will reconvene after the conference.

As of June of 2015 Peg Lorenz stepped down as chair of the committee. Sarah Crews is now the official chair of the Legislative Committee.

Membership Committee
—Sarah Crews, Zalene C. Corey, co-chairs

  • The membership committee worked closely with Donna Belk to make the transition from our web-based membership management platform Wild Apricot to Little Green Light.
    • Zalene Corey began to manage and recognize financial contributions from the membership and friends of NHFA. (This has shifted to Donna Belk who has access to this feature on LGL as an administrator).
    • Sarah Crews edits new member profiles to be consistent with mailing list requirements, and alerts committee chairs of skills and areas of interest identified by new members when joining the organization.
  • With the PR committee’s implementation of the new website and an increased presence on social media, the NHFA has experienced an unprecedented growth in new memberships. At the writing of this report we have a roster of 835 members (in Sept. 2014 we had 500 members).
  • There is some movement in this committee to be actively involved in connecting members in different regions around the country and assist with regional activities for our membership. The regional breakout sessions at the upcoming conference will advance the membership committee’s role in connecting NHFA members in smaller
  • There was an initiative to interview members for the newsletter and several members were interviewed before a major NHFA organization overhaul dropped this feature. The intention was to highlight a broad stroke of membership from those involved on professional levels to those just discovering the opportunity to care for their family and friends on a personal level.

Public Relations Committee
— Kateyanne Unullisi, Chair

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

  • Rebranded all outward facing communications to be public-oriented, high resolution images, with clear calls to action, and a professional NHFA ‘voice’
  • Completed website re-do into WordPress platform
  • What’s new: Stories section, Get Involved section, promotions, Books for sale, Veteran’s Challenge, podcasts, more
  • Created, updated, and maintained robust Conference 2015 section
  • Enhanced Law section, About Us section
  • Robust social networking on FaceBook and Twitter have helped increase membership
    • Facebook likes up 110% in past year, from 570 to 1200.
    • 82% women
    • 25 countries; 20% are women 45 – 54
  • Developed and implemented Little Green Light for member database; newsletter and email sends, more
  • Wrote and published on website and books on Amazon
    • ‘Clearly Defined’ – defining ourselves as home funeral guides
    • ‘What to do When Families’ Rights are Challenged’
    • Essentials for Practicing Home Funeral Guides
    • Home Funeral Planning Workbook for Families
    • Las Ceremonias Bonitas — Home Funeral Ceremonies
  • Published 9 e-newsletters
  • Revamped monthly phone conferences
    • partnered with Dr. Karen Wyatt
    • more facilitator opportunities
    • know what’s coming up and can promote in advance
  • Created several important videos about NHFA
  • Created YouTube channel
  • Promoted on website, newsletter, Facebook, Twitter
  • Supported conference needs in Los Gatos
  • Designed retractable, magnets, notecards, rack card, recipe, scarf
  • Conference publicity local and national
  • Email copy for board members to send personally
  • Frequent and complete website updates aligned with conference committee messaging
  • Responded to email queries from members and the public
  • Revised and reprinted general brochure to a rack card and a one-sheet flyer
  • Updated slide carousel presentation for use by members
  • Designed and published advertisements in Natural Transitions Magazine for general use and conference
  • Wrote guidelines for NHFA publications for website
  • Created new program for Volunteer outreach, tracking hrs.
  • Arranged and participated in interviews for radio and written articles by multiple
  • Responded to various blogs and online newspapers with info on home funerals and the