We write to you today with a posture of humility. As members of the Board of Directors, we take our responsibility to you as a member seriously. When you elect us to serve on the Board, you entrust us to guide, protect, and further the Weavers Guild of Minnesota with your wellbeing as members at the core of this work. This responsibility, to our organization and you, brought the Board to a very difficult realization and decision, which we are now sharing with you.
To give some background to what brought us to this decision, it is important to note the extensive work of the Finance Committee since receiving our financial statement and tax documents for last year in order to develop realistic, sustainable financial projections for WGM’s path forward. As a part of this continual work, your Finance Committee has looked back over the last four years to track primary revenue and expense, and has found incredible consistencies over these years which will help guide us forward.
While predictions take into account existing data to the best of our ability, they are not always perfect. Data analysis from the past years led the Finance Committee to predict that WGM will experience a significant shortfall this year of up to $30,000, due primarily to certain liabilities and year-end adjustments that are calculated at fiscal year end (August 31) by the agency WGM contracts to prepare our required financial statements and taxes.
The Finance Committee believed this shortfall to be a warning sign of more significant financial instability if action was not taken. While many of WGM’s expenses are fixed, like rent, paying our valued instructors, renting space for membership meetings and securing speakers, as we crafted the budget for the upcoming year, we faced the hard fact that at this time, we cannot afford three full-time professionals. We see the Education Manager role as the most critical to our revenue and mission, with the Guild Coordinator role maintaining Fiber Source and working directly with our members as the second most critical position. Grants and Contributions serve as the third most important revenue stream which did not meet budget projections this year.
After much discussion, the Finance Committee brought to the Board a very difficult recommendation. Wednesday night, the Board of Directors upheld the Finance Committee’s recommendation that WGM scales back to two, full-time employees and eliminates the position of Executive Director.
It is with no pleasure that we deliver this news to you. Our Executive Director, Beth Bowman, has benefited the Guild in innumerable ways, expanded how we grow our mission, and been a friend to many. And while this decision by the Board acts on prudence for next year’s budget, we are still looking at the $30,000 shortfall for this fiscal year. Friends, we have till August 31st to raise the funds needed to offset this shortfall and—would this be any other organization—our opinion of our abilities would waver. But our organization, the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, is no ordinary organization. We have been, and continue to be, a leader in the nation in our mission. Our rich history and bright future speaks not only to the talent that has been and currently is a part of our membership, but also to the rich draw to which our organization brings new members into the traditions we cherish. It will be difficult but we can do this, united together toward our love of upholding the mission of preserving and advancing the arts of weaving, spinning, and dyeing.
This ask will require each and every one of us to step up to support WGM as we work to maintain stability and act on the tough decisions that enable us to best support the organization. If every member gave $50, we would achieve our goal of $30,000. That being said, your donation of any size is crucial to this effort, so please don’t count yourself out if you can only give $5, because just like your membership in the Guild, everyone matters.
Other ways you can assist the Guild in reaching its goal of $30,000 by August 31st is stopping in to Fiber Source and grabbing some new supplies (maybe there’s a book you’ve had your eye on) or perhaps there’s a class you can take in August; all of these actions will help us close the gap.
We ask you to thoughtfully consider how the Guild has been a part of your story as a maker and artist and what that means to you. May we each consider how in this time of need, we can come together to support WGM in carrying out our mission for many years to come.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at BOD@weaversguildmn.org any time. In addition to contacting us directly,Board members will be available on August 9th from 1 to 4 pm at WGM for a Brown Bag Lunch listening session to which you all are invited to attend.
Thank you for your continued support, commitment, and energy. It in no way goes unnoticed.
With best regards,
Maddy Bartsch, President Elect
Susan Larson-Fleming, President
Heather MacKenzie, Treasurer
Becka Rahn, Secretary