Board Report: February 2018

Hi Everyone,

The annual Board Planning Workshop was held in Wellington on Friday 16th/ Saturday 17th February.  

As mentioned a few weeks ago in my Member News comment, this was an important time to reflect on, debate, tweak and align our strategies and the direction of SLSNZ over the coming three years.

As a Board we spent considerable time seeking to be much more crisp on the top priorities for the organisation, following work we had done last year which highlighted the wide range of activities SLSNZ actually undertakes.  We don't have unlimited resources so we need to focus our efforts.  Those priorities are shown below and included in the latest version of the 2018/19 Strategic Plan which is attached for your information (and also will be shortly available on the SLSNZ website).




Support and guide clubs to deliver core services to agreed standards

  • SLSNZ can't be everything to everyone.  Focus needs to go onto providing support for clubs core operations that result in saving lives on beaches.  Priority to go into helping clubs that are struggling to meet minimum standards relevant for their beach(es).


Professional Execution

  • Implement an improved consultation and decision making/change management process with clubs and other stakeholders.
  • Through the appointment of a Chief Operating Officer drive a culture change which focuses on improved professional execution and understanding of who is the customer.
  • Improved internal communications - the membership is well informed about what is going on and why in a timely manner.
  • Improved external communications - more people understand what we do and how we operate (volunteer based charity).


One Movement

  • While we have strength via clubs being sovereign entities we also want to maximise our collective impact by having all our waka travelling in the same direction.



  • Narrow the SLSNZ focus on innovation to areas that support core service deliverables.
  • Encourage clubs to be more innovative and spread the benefits across the movement.


Business Resilience and securing future sustainable funding

  • SLSNZ to target $500,000# cash added to working capital by the end of the year via income growth and tight cost control (aiming towards one year's OPEX in cash reserves).


o   At least one additional 'Major' partner.

o   Develop significant new income streams (e.g. fundraising initiatives).

o   SLSNZ Foundation starting to build long term funding base.

  • Progress a proposal for a central government sustainable funding model for the Surf Life Saving movement and SLSNZ.
  • Continue to seek more support for clubs and SLSNZ from local government.

What we came up with is not a world away from where we have been in the past, but there are some subtle differences, which are:

  • While our primary focus remains leading and supporting all clubs as they undertake the frontline work of saving lives at beaches, there is an acknowledgment that within that we have to prioritise our efforts on clubs that are struggling to achieve the minimum standards of service relevant for their beaches.  Supporting club core operations needs to be where our time and energy is invested.
  • Following the Club Chairs Workshop at the 2017 AGM, we have taken on the message to improve our own operational delivery - particularly consultation and change management processes, and communication - internally and enhancing telling the story of Surf Life Saving to the community.  Just like clubs, we need to prioritise the professional execution of core deliverables while not getting distracted.   As part of bringing this to life we are investing in the role of a Chief Operations Officer for 2018/19.
  • Following recent discussions with Central Government there is a need now to be more explicit about becoming and behaving as 'ONE ORGANISATION', so we can maximise the benefits of our collective strength, whether this is in the media spotlight or with funders.  While we have many individual clubs in our movement and this gives us benefits in terms of resilience and ability to innovate and motivate our membership, if we are not aligned we will be divided and conquered in what has become an extremely competitive funding environment.
  • The Board also wants to signal a change to how we approach innovation, where in the past SLSNZ has tended to centralise this (mainly in lifesaving, less so in sport) to avoid un-necessary duplication of resources and reduce the risk of different operating standards across clubs.  While these benefits remain important, this has meant SLSNZ has struggled to cope with the range of initiatives on its plate and innovation has not happened as fast as it could have.  Going forward, SLSNZ will endeavour to focus more on ideas that improve core service delivery and give clubs more of a role to develop ideas themselves and facilitate the sharing of those.

The need for 'business resilience' remains a top priority for us, albeit for 2018/19 the potential to have a discussion with Central Government about a sustainable long term funding model is something that is more real than it ever has been in the past and if it occurs is going to drive a change in accountability, and the need for us to focus on becoming "ONE ORGANISATION".

So overall, a very productive couple of days.

While not covered at the meeting, in terms of the SLSNZ financial position attached are the regular SLSNZ Financial Reports for the first seven months of 2017/18.  These show a Net Operating Surplus of $1.969 million, which is $228,000 ahead of budget.  This variance is largely due to the additional funding received from NZLGB which hasn't been spent yet.  A full explanation of the variances is in the attached Financial Summary Dashboard. 

As always, the profit at this time of year is not indicative or the year end result as we have yet to complete our big spending summer months.  More relevant is the latest forecast which has the full year Net Operating Surplus running slightly below budgeted levels at $137,000 (budget is $120,000).  This means we still have to keep very focussed on achieving all our income and expenditure targets for the second half of the year as there is little fat in this bottom line.  This forecast did not take account of the BP 50th Anniversary fundraising campaign results as it was still running during this time.

But speaking of that, this campaign ('Every Litre Counts') which celebrated BP's 50 year anniversary of sponsoring surf life saving in New Zealand raised $459,050 for SLSNZ.  $121,600 of that has been distributed via a competition to clubs and members who were the most active in supporting the programme, and a further $ 500 of fuel vouchers is being disbursed to each of the clubs who promoted the programme through their networks but did not win one of the major prizes.  In addition, the funding has also been used to refresh BP Surf Rescue flags and signs for all clubs. 

Overall his has seen 40% of the money raised ($181,600) distributed, with the remainder of the funds remaining with SLSNZ for use in the future.

In attending the Oceans Under 14 Championships I was disturbed to see firsthand the unacceptable behaviour and sportsmanship being displayed by a small number of clubs, coaches and managers some who are long term members. 

An upfront focussed discussion with Team Managers at the TSB Nationals on acceptable behaviours had the desired effect and it was extremely pleasing leaving the TSB Nationals to have seen a vast improvement.  However, I think you will agree that the time has come to call out any clubs, coaches, managers and individuals who do not meet acceptable standards of behaviour while taking the time to reflect on and reiterate the reasons we actually deliver events and the behaviours that are acceptable to us as a movement.

As indicated earlier we are in discussions with Central Government and are working extremely hard to progress the opportunity of sustainable long term funding to support our member clubs and the national organisation for both operational and capital funding requirements.

Our approach to the Government is based on the evidence of the Water Safety New Zealand Capability Review whom we continue to work closely with.

While early days, as mentioned above, the messaging coming out of Central Government is abundantly clear that any support will be predicated on us being "ONE ORGANISATION" and if we manage to secure the opportunity there will be "ONE DEAL".  Based on this you can expect to see us commence work on what that future looks like.

As we continue to work with Central Government we would like to reconfirm that any media needs to reinforce the national position as per the guidelines provided earlier in the season and not to attack or blindside funding agencies via the media.

So that's it from me for the month - although I do have one quick reminder for clubs to get their National Honours & Awards nominations in - the deadline of 30th June is coming up quickly.

Yours in surf,

Brent Warner
Surf Life Saving New Zealand