Board Report: 22 January 2013

Dear Clubbies, 

I hope the summer continues to go well wherever you are. As the surf sport season starts to really ramp up I am looking forward to getting out and watching our athletes of all ages get out on the water (and sand) as we lead up to the Nationals in March.

A short meeting of the Board of Surf Life Saving New Zealand was held via teleconference on the 22 January 2013.

Key points covered included:
  • Sustainability - The Board remains very focused on 'Future Proofing' the organisation. Heading into 2013, financial sustainability remains the single biggest challenge for SLSNZ - despite the actions already taken last year. The disappointing fundraising outcomes at the end of last year and signs that our grant applications will struggle over the coming six months are keeping the pressure firmly on our finances, and with no reserves to fall back on we cannot afford any slip-ups!

    As a business we will need to very tightly manage our costs, including staffing and cashflow over the remaining six months of the current financial year and into 2013/14. We also need to put more effort into revenue growth to offset the declines we are seeing in the traditional fundraising and grant incomes. To that end the Board has set up this month a Commercial Committee to assist the Management Team to identify and convert new revenue opportunities. Myself, Brent Warner and Nicky Duggan are on this committee and we will involve others as we leave no stone unturned in this area. The Northern Region Board has taken the same approach and the Management Teams of SLSNZ and SLSNR recently met to ensure we are maximising all the opportunities we have in front of us at every level. 

    The Board is also thinking about how we operate in an environment where most of our funding is only confirmed for a maximum of a year at a time, and often only when that year has already started and commitments made to employ staff and run programmes. This makes it difficult to manage profitability as any funding reductions are harder to deal with once programmes are underway. The increasing difficulty of getting 'untagged' income and funding for overheads is also adding to the pressure of the current model for most not-for-profit organisations. While we continue to search for long term sources of untagged income, in the interim while we rebuild our reserves we need a way of operating that does not expose the organisation to as much financial risk. The recent feedback from Club Chairs on what is important for SLSNZ to deliver to its stakeholders and our Board to Board discussions with Northern Region are contributing to this thinking. 
    More discussions with clubs and members will need to occur on this in the future. 
  • First six months results - The first six months financial results were in line with the revised budget, with income of $6.2 million, expenses of $4.3 million and a surplus of $1.9 million. This surplus will largely disappear in January as payments are made out to Regional Lifeguards from the income received from Councils. As noted above it is the second half of the financial year, and particularly the final quarter that creates the cash flow problem as there is little income in the 'off season' but the costs continue! 
  • Holiday period drownings - The holiday period was noticeable this year for a lot of rescue activity and comparatively few drownings. The official holiday period was between 4pm on Christmas Eve and 6am on the 3rd January and in that time only three people drowned (a diver, a rafter and one beach drowning) compared to an average of ten over the last five years. While this is a great result there have still been some tragic (and very avoidable) beach drownings either side of this period. Had people followed the simple safety rules they would still be alive - and this highlights the importance of our role in education - as even with all our rescue resources we can't be everywhere to get people out of trouble in the short time that is available to make a difference. 
  • New Years honours - The Board noted the honours bestowed on members (Sir) Bob Harvey, Lisa Carrington and Raymond Dever and congratulates them all for the well-deserved recognition. 
  • High Performance Sport funding- The Board noted that Management were in discussion with High Performance Sport NZ (HPSNZ) around the recently announced funding cuts for our national team athletes, and was pleased with the positive response to the request to review the decisions. 
  • Swim and Survive Review - The next stage of the water safety sectors 'Swim and Survive' Review is taking place on 20 February, organised by Water Safety New Zealand. SLSNZ will participate in that meeting which will continue to look at how the sector is structured and where programmes such as the State Kiwi Swim Safe programme will be run from, given that Swimming NZ has been mandated to move away from this work in order to focus on high performance. 
  • Club Health - SLSNZ President Neale Ames attended the meeting and gave a brief summary of his summer 'road trip' visiting clubs in the North Island. The Board is very appreciative of the personal time, effort and cost that Neale is putting into his role as President and the feedback that he is able to provide via these club visits. 
  • National Club Chairs Workshop - Recently the Board decided to hold a workshop in Wellington on Saturday 21 September for Club Chairs (or an alternative delegate) - in order to have discussions on topics of national interest with every club having the opportunity to participate and contribute. The focus will be forward looking, and the actual topics for discussion will be determined as part of the next round of club chairs meetings - we want clubs to drive the agenda based on what are the critical issues for the future of Surf Life Saving.
    The plan is to start around 10-10.30am and go through until 3 -3.30pm. The workshop will be followed by the 2013 AGM and then in the evening a dinner for the annual DHL 'In it for Life' Awards and the BP Media Awards. Further details will follow but the chance is there for clubs to book airfares now and get the best deals. I hope all clubs take up this opportunity as there are very few chances for us all to get together like this.
Next meeting:

Next meeting is scheduled on 22 January by teleconference.

Yours in surf

Michael Bassett-Foss
Surf Life Saving New Zealand