The annual report from the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada finally made it’s way through snail mail. Unlike the speedier US counterpart (sent through the electronic intertubes) it is very bland.
The only interesting part is where they mention their new approach to the budget:
A continued challenge this year has been in maintaining sustained, generous response to the needs of the Funds of the Faith. Although contributions fell short of what was called for in the budget, in a wonderful development in the past month, efforts by institutions and individuals alike appear to have eliminated the current year’s operating deficit and also allowed a reduction in the accumulated deficit to approximately $650,000. Having sought the guidance of the Universal House of Justice, the National Spiritual Assembly decided this year to establish an expenditure budget equal to the actual contributions to the National Fund over the last three years, resulting in deep cuts to services and staff at every level.
The emphasis above is mine.
So it appears that the NSA has finally decided to join the rest of us in reality. I’m loath to take credit for this but you may remember this blog performed a service to NSA treasurers and made them watch this presentation. Atleast the Canadian treasurer seems to have grasped the complex financial machinations explained in that video.
So in effect what they’ve done is look at the previous 3 years and averaged the contributions received for the National Fund. They’ve then set this as their budget for next year. This seems reasonable since contribution trends change little year over year. The NSA has attempted for many years to try and pull up the contribution levels by sheer force of setting higher goals.
This simply does not work. And it seems they have realized the folly of setting unrealistic expectations, not meeting them and then brow beating the Baha’is for “their” failure.
For example, last Baha’i year the goal was $5.4 million for the National Fund. Actual contributions were $4.3 million. But with the new method, next year’s goal (the 3 year average of actual contributions to the National Fund) will be $3.6 million. Seems like they’ve made some real changes.
But not so fast!
While the National Fund’s goal is set at $3.6 million, they’ve done something very sneaky to actually create no change! Here’s what the NSA did. They introduced a line on the budget statement called “Additional Goal for National Fund”. This had a value of $2.1 million.
So if we take the realistic goal of $3.6 million and add to it this mysterious “Additional Goal” of $2.1, we get…. (drum roll)… $5.7 million.
Which is right back in the range of $5.4 million (from previous years!)
In effect, no change. Plus ca change and all that. I had no idea the NSA were fans of French existentialism
Here’s what it looks like:
Additional Goal for National Fund____________$2,151,737
And no, there’s no explanation given as to what, exactly, this additional goal is for. Or why it is needed. And I’m sure it is just coincidence that it is exactly the amount that is needed to bring the budget up to a round number level at which it would show no real change from last year (except for a slight increase).
Such sleight of hand tricks like, saying you’re reducing the budget,while in actuality increasing it are the forte of the NSA and its treasury department. After all, they’ve been reporting a deficit year after year to the Baha’i community and a surplus to the government year after yea.
This is why we need more transparency and openness in the Baha’i Administration. This is why more and more Baha’is are reluctant to donate to the Funds. Would you give money to a charity that plays these sort of tricks? insists on opacity and obfuscation? refuses to answer simple questions?