Britsoc: The British Society of Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Serving the British Expat community since 1920.

British Society AGM minutes 2011

Annual General Meeting
British Society of Amsterdam
Held at the Mint Hotel, Amsterdam
Wednesday, 7th December 2011, commencing at 20.00
Present: John Cameron Webb (Chairman), Stephen Huyton, Francis Condon, Peter Graham, Mark Ligtenstein, Alison Smith, Michael Wardropper, Kathryn Huyton, Sharron Reed, Tony Thorne, Abi Raja, Roger Knight, Gavin Palmer, Ruth Max, Sarah Grace, Duncan Peacock, Wouter van Aldewegen Mikaela Lodder, Tracey Taylor, Kirsten Pyle, Vincent Calder, Lorna Payne, Elizabeth Kelly, Gillian Brooks, Annette Garnett, Ann-Marie Toolen, Fabienne Devoille
Apologies received from D Craig, M van Griesven
There were no written proxies received. Notice of attendance circulated.
There were no exceptions to the agenda, so it was adopted for the meeting.
Minutes of the Annual General Meeting, held on 18th November 2010
There were no objections to the minutes, which were therefore taken as read.
Annual Report from the Chairman.
The Chairman gave a vote of thanks to the Committee, in particular Annette, who exceeded expectations as events coordinator and also to Mikaela, for the record number of events she organized.
Stephen stated that we are particularly proud of the Bulletin, and its success is in no small measure due to Alison, Jan van der Berg and Martin, who doe the formatting.
Thanks were also given to Una as webmaster, for tackling most of the problems in the website, and which is now a lot better.
Tilly Newman has been active in marketing the society on social media. She started the Britsoc Twitter account and has been very active on Facebook. We have seen a big input from other organisations thanks to social media and more hits on the website.
Given the separate events committee, the main committee now only meets 3 to 4 times a year, in order to keep things together.
The society runs a series of both smaller events and larger events. Examples are the ceilidh, the Pimms/Polo event and the War Walk done by John.
The Bonfire night in November 2012 catered for 650 people. Cash taken was around EUR 9K, with around EUR 5K in costs. The Bonfire has become our main fundraising event, although it is completely weather dependent, so losses can also be sustained.
Gavin and Sharron worked hard to try and organize the Ball at the Amstel Hotel, but due to the restriction on numbers, it was not possible to make it work financially.
The Committee decided to organize something on a smaller scale and dinner at the Mint hotel has been arranged. 62 tickets have been sold for this, and 60 were budgeted.
On a personal note, Stephen added that he has been very fortunate in the members of the committee, making the job of Chairman less complicated than in previous years. The Chairman’s job is principally as a networker.
Questions were received from the floor.
Gillian queried the relationship between members and non-members, and what advantages members receive in comparison to non-members, given that we also allow non-members to attend the Ball and the ceilidh. Stephen replied that it was a valid point and we have widened the pricing considerably between members and non-members for the big events to try and address this.
Sarah asked how large our current membership was. Gillian stated it was difficult to say, as we had had problems with the database and it had to be re-constructed.. There were currently 612 people on the database, but not everybody had paid, and wished to continue as a member. We estimate around 460 active members.
Stephen commented that the cost of sending the bulletin to non-active members is getting high. The Committee was considering putting the question to members of whether we should move to an electronic version only. However it was also acknowledged that some older members like the printed bulletin. At the end of Q1 2012, a decision needs to be made, as the bulletin is no longer sustainable in its current format.
There was a discussion around payment methods for members and it was stated that Francis/Una are currently looking at IDEAL.
Gavin asked which was the weakest month in terms of cash. Stephen replied that it was the month we normally paid the deposit for the Ball. We also pay out for squash and tennis courts in September, so the low point is between September and December.
Gavin asked Stephen about being Chairman – What are the best parts and what would he have done differently in hindsight? Stephen stated that he probably would not take the activity on now, given the amount of time it took, an estimate of an hour a day. He would not do so much differently, except for the decision to tie ourselves to SC Multimedia for the website and bulletin.
Gavin turned the questioning to the Ball and said that he would like to hear why it was turned done by the Committee. He felt that the venue was suitable, we had sponsorship and there was good food and dancing. Stephen replied the Ball contract had not been able to be put in place by certain key dates ie. it needed to be up and running by August. Also it was felt that it was not financially viable and he as Chairman had personal liability for the funds of the Society.
John Cameron Webb commented that he understood that it’s hard work to put a Ball into place, and he could understand the disappointment of the Ball Committee at the decision not to go ahead with it. He asked if we could learn from this. It was suggested that it would have helped to have a project plan and Mikaela suggested that we write a report on the Ball to carry forward to help the next organisers. It was agreed that it would be helpful for Gavin to write a report to give to the next Ball organisers.
Treasurers Report and approval of the accounts for the Year ending 30 June 2011
Francis gave a report.
1.      Membership fee income has declined from EUR 8K to EUR 7.5K.
2.      A website upgrade of EUR 1300 is included in admin expenses of EUR 6K.
3.      The Bulletin is currently making a loss EUR 500 a month, because advertising income has dried up and we are relying on long-term advertising relationships only
4.      Activities are working well with a net surplus of EUR 1K.
5.      In total, there was a loss made in the year of EUR 4.3K.
6.      Cash balances decreased from EUR 33.6K to EUR 29.5K. The society holds assets of EUR 26.2K.
A discussion ensued about how to turn the Bulletin around out of a loss-making situation. Vincent Calder volunteered to help with advertising.
The accounts were approved.
Michael Wardropper and Dudley Keillor were proposed by Francis to stand as official Auditors, seconded by Stephen.
An official vote of thanks was given to Francis, who is stepping down as Treasurer..
Election of Officers
List of Committee Members circulated and agreed:
Stephen Huyton – Chairman
Abi Raja – Treasurer
Gillian Brooks – Membership Secretary
Kirsten Pyle – Secretary
Una Hennigan – Webmaster
Annette Garnett – Events Coordinator
Mikaela Lodder – Committee member
Elizabeth Kelly- Committee member
Fabienne Devoille – Committee member
Tracey Taylor – Committee member
Ex Offico, Ball Organiser
Ex Offico, Bulletin Editor
In addition to the above, Vincent Calder was proposed and seconded as a Committee member.
Any Other Business
There being no further business, the meeting was closed.