Sunday, January 23, 2011

SRAC Finances

Now is the time when we are all getting our financial information together and getting ready to do our taxes for 2010 - and as I've been doing SRAC's year-to-date report for our accountant and the Board of Directors, I decided that this information is something that others might be interested in as well. As a result, I've compiled the following financial information for the public to learn more about SRAC's finances and why we need them.

First - as many of you know - SRAC was founded and incorporated as a 501(c)3 in 2005 - so as of the end of 2010 - we have had a total of around 5 years to raise funds to support our mission. But we began raising funds right out of the gate, because we knew that we had to get a building in order to share our collections with the public.

In December 2007 - after looking at several buildings, we bought the building at 345 Broad Street, Waverly, NY which meant we had to have a down payment of $15,000 and then take on a mortgage and utilities that we continue to pay every month. (Actually, the owner of the building gave us a two-year owner-financing deal and then we mortgaged the property through a local bank after that.) We also had to renovate the building before we could use it - and we did it with all volunteer help, which made it nice because we then just had the cost of building supplies. Yet even this would not have been enough if it had not been for so many noteworthy philanthropic efforts from our community.

This is what the Center looked like when we first came in to see it in 2007

This is when first we got the building in January 2008

The first was Triple V Electric owner and SRAC member, Mr. Ron VanDyke actually called me and said, "before you walk in that door, my guys are coming over and rewiring that building for you." And so I went over in the morning and let them in and then locked up when I left work each day until they finished - and then they just walked away (we were never charged a penny.)

The second was Dr. Barry Skeist who came in one day and looked at our walls that were plaster with huge holes and crumbling all over the floor and so on and said, "I have some painters that know how to fix this and owe me some time - you just need to pay for the paint." - Well these painters painted for the better part of 2008!

Painting the whole main floor ceiling was a HUGE job! This is a picture of the back stairs in the lecture hall today - and to the right is where the Woolly Mammoth Exhibit now resides.

Meanwhile, we still had to afford the rest - including adding a lot of new drywalling, a new bathroom, flooring for the gift shop, etc -and all the building supplies... But by having the outstanding support of volunteers - we could and do A LOT with a little bit of $!

Let me give you an example here to help you understand what I mean....If you enter our Center you will see a huge gift shop with a wall that goes across the back of the room with doors that go into the lecture hall and exhibit hall areas. There is also a bathroom built off this wall. We asked for a quote for the wall and 2 bathrooms (we ended up with one) and the estimate came back at over $47,000! Realizing we could not afford this - I asked our own Tom Valillee to see who he could get to volunteer and SRAC would pay for the supplies - - It cost us a total of around $500 for the wall and all wiring, dry-walling and painting and around $1,500 for the bathroom. SAVINGS: ~ $45,000 for just this one renovation!

Gift Shop wall going up!

The other thing that we did was ask every organization in the area for chairs, tables, and other furniture to use at SRAC. Guthrie Clinic donated 250 of the chairs that used to be in the Clinic waiting rooms. Lockheed Martin donated chairs and tables that we use in our gift shop, and for classes etc. Individuals donated cases for our gift shop.

We also needed a business plan that kept revenue coming in the door either by donations or sales in our gift shop - and so, unlike many museums that get huge donations each year to pay their expenses, SRAC has to ask for small donations for admissions to our Exhibit Hall and events to help us survive. We also stay open five days a week all year long, and offer SRAC members free admission to our Exhibit Hall every day and discounts on every event held at SRAC.

Already by March 2008, (only three months after buying the building) we opened the doors for the public to see the small amount of inventory and consignment items in our gift shop, and to attend events that we started having in the lecture hall that was still under construction. In the end, we survived our first year with our Center and the public kept coming back to support us!

Note: for 2008 - our mortgage, insurance and all utilities for the first year = $14,408; this was an eye-opener for me - as I have taken the responsibility of creating the business plan that will keep us in business - And for the first year with our building two things stood out clearly - - 1.) We worked with a VERY SMALL BUDGET and 2.) Donations (which includes admissions) is really what made the difference and allowed us to not only pay our basic bills, but also allowed us to renovate and continue to grow.

2009 -
When you come to see the thousands of artifacts in the SRAC Exhibit Hall, it's important to note that the Corning Painted Post Museum donated ALL of the cases in the SRAC Exhibit Hall. These cases were once owned by SRAC co-founder Dick Cowles's father- Ellsworth Cowles. He actually took them all to Corning when he created a museum that later closed. Although Ellsworth kept all of his collection in safe keeping and it is now in SRAC today, the cases remained in the closed museum for a decade until the Corning Painted Post Historical Society had learned about SRAC and contacted Dick Cowles, so that they could be used once again to house Ellsworth's collections at SRAC.

When we first received the cases - they needed a lot of tender loving care. SRAC member Les Rolfe supplied all of the materials we needed to re-line every case, and many hours were spent cleaning and re-lining the insides of each case before we could put anything in them. Next, we personally designed and created all of our Exhibit Hall displays. In the end, except for the cleaning supplies and a few posters, the cost to create our Exhibit Hall exhibits totaled $0.00 and we get comments everyday about how wonderful they are!

Cases donated by the Corning Painted Post Historical Society

SRAC Board members Mary Ann Taylor and Janet Andrus relining all of the cases.

In 2009 we also received a $5,000 + grant from the Mildred Faulkner Truman Foundation to upgrade our whole security and smoke/fire detection system for the whole building - which brought us up to the standards of the NYS Museum. Most importantly, it ensures that we are good stewards of all the collections that we are entrusted with.

In October 2009 during our annual "DrumBeats Through Time" event - we unveiled our SRAC Exhibit Hall to the public. We also unveiled a huge mural taken from a drawing that Ellsworth Cowles did for the Pennsylvania Archaeologist in 1933, of the village site he excavated below Spanish Hill.

Dick Cowles and Ted Keir unveiled the mural together at the DrumBeats 2009

To close out 2009 - we had a wonderful surprise - in late December, Barbara Sowinski donated $24,000 in order to dedicate the SRAC Exhibit Hall in the name of Andrew A. Burns. (This is the largest donation that SRAC has EVER received!)

SRAC Board at Andrew A. Burns Dedication Event

As a result, within two years of buying this run down old building - our Center really began showing the signs of being able to be all of those things we had wanted SRAC to be... and even being able to afford it!

2010 -
In 2010 - because of Barbara Sowinski's generous donation in honor of Andrew A. Burns in 2009, we made a commitment to renovate as much of the inside and outside of the main floor of our Center as was possible - realizing that because we never had much money to do much more than the basic necessities - we needed to invest in things like carpeting, fixing the outside of the building, putting on new front doors that actually opened and closed correctly, and well - bringing us up to a professional standard that we want to have so that our community can be proud to bring visitors to our Center and not feel like they just entered an old building with artifacts in it!

We also decided to make another huge addition to our Exhibit Hall, one that was a result of the efforts of our own Ted Keir - who had for many years gone around the region trying to share the story of the "Spring Lake Mammoth" - which by all accounts is considered one of the most significant excavations in Pennsylvania history. But without Ted's efforts, it would have been all but forgotten...It was after discussing this with Ted and finding out that we could in fact get replicas made by The Carnegie Museum that would rival the actual artifacts in quality, that we asked the Andaste Chapter of PA if they would be interested in pursuing an exhibit in SRAC to commemorate the excavation and to educate the public about the significance of this find in relation to our region's prehistoric past. They in turn requested a grant from the Allen Pierce Foundation that allowed the replicas to be made - and as they say - - the rest is history!

Ted Keir is shown at a couple of the school field trips held annually at SRAC

The fact that local students get to come to SRAC for their field trips and hear Ted talk about the Spring Lake Mammoth in person and are surrounded by this wonderful exhibit is truly a great thing for our schools. The public can also visit SRAC and have the same type of experience with Ted on Tuesday afternoons or watch him on the kiosk at the exhibit any time that they visit us. And I guess this is one of those things we have learned - that Ted and his personal attachment to this exhibit is what makes it simply unforgettable for the young and old alike...

Summing it all up -

* unaudited

If you or anyone that you know is wondering how our relatively new organization is doing financially - I hope that by sending this out that I have answered many of your questions. As you can see, SRAC's membership continues to grow steadily, and our gift shop sales has even tripled since last year. And although we did not receive a big donation check like we did in 2009, we did in fact get alot of smaller donations along with a substantial grant from the Allen Pierce Foundation that still kept us able to reinvest in our Center and continue to grow. But, as anybody that effectively deals with business development and strategic planning would have to agree - these numbers are only part of the equation if you plan to be successful over the long run.

As I look back over the past three years - I can tell you that fund-raising is not fun or easy - especially when SRAC does not accept state or federal funding and our economy has hit rock bottom. Thankfully, we have a Board that understands that we need to have our doors open and to work hard at getting people in to the gift shop, exhibit hall and events in order to supplement the donations and grants that we can muster during these hard times. As a result, the quality and value that we can provide in each visit to our Center is really pretty amazing. Our Board is made up of real specialists and students in our archaeology and prehistoric past. And our board members can be seen in SRAC spending several hours IN SRAC on a weekly basis - all year long. We are open five days a week and as you can see by this report as of 2010 - all of this hard work is beginning to show the financial rewards and that the community is responding very positively.

When I get asked from time to time I usually respond that I could only guess what SRAC would do with some of the large donations that other organizations receive. Someday SRAC will have a larger wallet to draw from too - but until then - it really is a nice feeling to know that this family that we have developed over the past few years has survived the hard times together. As one of our board members was just saying the other day - "I know we are working hard building a great future for SRAC - but I really enjoy everyday I am here right now too!"

While I think it is important to point out that SRAC is showing steady progression both in renovations and in revenue generation, without our volunteers and our community that have really embraced us and what we do by continuing to donate hours, shop in our gift shop, attend our events, donate to our cause, and tell others about us - we clearly would not have made it this far - this fast.

While many thought we'd never make it this far - thankfully - I can say with your support - we did!

Let's face it though folks, we still have a lot left that we need to do - which means we need everyone's help to continue to find more members, more supporters and more funding to continue our efforts while becoming a better and better place that our community can share.

If you'd like to join or support what I call the most inspiring, best feel good, and most community active organization around - we would surely appreciate it.

Please share this information with anyone who would like to learn more about SRAC by using the sharing links below:


( ;

No comments:

Post a Comment