From the Chairman

By September 11, 2019 No Comments

As I sit down to update you on our progress this year, first I can’t believe that it has been a year! And then I can’t believe what a busy year it has been, as there is much to update. My work this year has been largely “internally” focused on the organisation, the things that our members probably never see. Updating these key documents to protect our members is the world that we now live in!

Annabel Peckham instead has spent much time on external things. First, Annabel worked on two major events for the SHs and has spent much time on a new insurance package! In her spare time, she has managed a major overhaul and revamp of the website. It is a complicated undertaking as the one website serves three distinct groups. Our two core groups – SHs and FOs – require different functionality in the site. We have also worked hard to improve non-member access to promote the CFA – for example making it easier to learn of local fairs to attend. While I think it is a great move, it does add a layer of complexity! Annabel will cover more on this, but I know we are all amazed by the improvement.

During this web-update process, we reviewed our organisational documents and found they were sadly out of date. Updating our CFA documents (the constitution, privacy policies, terms and conditions, applications forms and codes of conduct) has taken much of my time as well as the committee’s time. Although most members would not spend time researching these documents, the documents are key to our members. We have worked to ensure that the CFA is GDPR-compliant and added protection for our members. This update also means that the CFA operates in a much more transparent and professional environment.

As I am sure you are well aware, last year we expanded our administrative staff. I hope you met Katherine Wilford, our Administrative Assistant, at our last AGM. Annabel Peckham is still with us as the Administrative Manager.

The CFA is keen to promote fairs and suitable venues for our stallholders. To that end, this summer the CFA arranged stallholders for two polo events at Tidworth. Not only did this give us a chance to showcase our SH members, but it raised the CFA profile with an entirely new group of people. At both events we collected contact details to keep the attendees up to date on charity fairs in their local areas. I say the CFA did this, but we know it was down to the hard work of Annabel and Katherine!

New this year is Annabel Peckham’s small group or individual sessions on Social Media Training, which came about as a result of numerous requests for help! A key goal is to always provide support to our members.

While we will do our best to give you the support you want, making these outside arrangements are costly. First the staff time can be expensive, and we may have the additional expense of hiring a venue or paying professional consultants or trainers. Each year we spend more in supporting the membership than we take in from dues. For example we have been subsidising the members attending the AGM and many seminars or member events.

Like everyone else, we have also faced increased costs for postage, printing, even toner cartridges when we print documents in-house! We are very budget conscious, but we are a large organisation and certain expenses are simply not going to go away (like professional website management or admin staff). On this point, we have decided that events that benefit only a few members (for example social media training) will only be offered on a fully costed basis. In other words, if we offer a 1-to-1 training session, the price must cover Annabel’s time in preparing and delivering the session. If Annabel travels to complete training for a group, the costs to the group must be sufficient to cover her time and her travel.

If you are reading this, you will have noticed that we have gone paperless for our newsletter and it will always be accessible on-line. Yes, this saves us printing and postage, but it is also part of our work to expand awareness of the CFA. Anyone using the website will see the newsletter, pictures of events, the advertisements and Member News – all show just how vibrant and exciting our members are. Expanding the CFA reach to more non-members benefits our advertisers and the publicity is good for SHs and FOs. Finally as we are moving more documents to on-line access, we anticipate this will make it easier for you to access them at any time.

As I mentioned Member News, remember to help us keep everyone up to date. Send Annabel updates and news about your fairs and your businesses so we can promote you on the website. This is fantastic free PR for our members and it helps us make the website more personal.

The Christmas season is fast approaching and I hope everyone has a fantastic year!

Article by Melissa Taylor