ECF Finance Meeting

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Angus French
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Re: ECF Finance Meeting

Post by Angus French » Sat Jun 27, 2020 8:04 pm

Ian Thompson wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 7:25 pm
Angus French wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:20 pm
So far as I can see it’s not currently possibly to upgrade from being a Supporter to, say, a Silver member for the difference in charge between the two – i.e. £27 - £10 = £17. You have to pay the full charge for Silver membership (on top of the already-paid Supporter charge).
If you're right then there's an error in the Finance Director's report where he explains the Director of Membership's assumptions:

"Additional supporters will be gained as a result of online chess activity. This is a deliberately conservative estimate. It assumed that while a significant number of existing members will re-join as supporters to play online the majority of these will upgrade once over-the-board play is resumed."

Note the use of the word "upgrade".
I hope I'm wrong. All I could find was this from the membership upgrade page of the ECF website:
ECF website wrote:PLEASE NOTE — if you are upgrading from Bronze to Silver, Bronze to Gold, Bronze to Platinum, Silver to Gold, Silver to Platinum or Gold to Platinum, you will only be charged the difference between the two levels of membership — for example, £7.50 from Bronze to Silver, £10.50 from Silver to Gold, £12.00 from Junior Silver to Junior Gold, and so on. This discount will take effect at the point of payment and will be shown on the payment screen
i.e. a list of upgrades but none of them from the Supporter category... And in other respects the Supporter category is treated differently - I don't believe there's any reference to it in the Articles or Bye Laws; Supporter members are not considered to be Direct Members.

I'm not sure the quote from Finance Director's report can be read as implying that the upgrade charge will be the difference between the charges for the two categories.

NickFaulks
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Re: ECF Finance Meeting

Post by NickFaulks » Sat Jun 27, 2020 8:36 pm

Angus French wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 8:04 pm
I'm not sure the quote from Finance Director's report can be read as implying that the upgrade charge will be the difference between the charges for the two categories.
This is an important point, which I queried a while ago. It was answered conclusively at the recent Board meeting and Dave Thomas has given me authority to pass on the following.

"Once 2020-21 memberships go on sale upgrades from Supporter to higher categories will be available, with the customary full discount of the fee already paid."

Angus French
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Re: ECF Finance Meeting

Post by Angus French » Sat Jun 27, 2020 9:02 pm

NickFaulks wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 8:36 pm
Angus French wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 8:04 pm
I'm not sure the quote from Finance Director's report can be read as implying that the upgrade charge will be the difference between the charges for the two categories.
This is an important point, which I queried a while ago. It was answered conclusively at the recent Board meeting and Dave Thomas has given me authority to pass on the following.

"Once 2020-21 memberships go on sale upgrades from Supporter to higher categories will be available, with the customary full discount of the fee already paid."
Thanks Nick. That's very helpful.

John Reyes
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Re: ECF Finance Meeting

Post by John Reyes » Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:13 pm

So far we have a few people email the Silver reps and also getting feedback.

People are big fans of what we have put on our pages, and I hope that Members of the ECF will Support the ECF till OTB chess happen again
Any postings on here represent my personal views only

Alan Kennedy
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Re: ECF Finance Meeting

Post by Alan Kennedy » Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:38 pm

John Reyes wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:13 pm
/
People are big fans of what we have put on our pages, and I hope that Members of the ECF will Support the ECF till OTB chess happen again
John the forumites might like to see a copy of an email i sent to my bronze representative, Angus French was was as follows (with apologies for the slightly dysilexic english):

From: Alan Kennedy
Sent: 28 June 2020 12:35
To: dnr-bronze-01@englishchess.org.uk
Subject: The running of the ECF

Dear Angus

I advance of the finance council meeting, as a bronze member of the Federation, I should be grateful if you would note my views concerning the running of the ecf which are as follows:

1 that you should vote in flavour of all resolutions proposed by the board. I consider the board have done an amazing task to keep the ECF running in the current crisis and they are to be congratulated.
2 That under “any other business” you should propose a vote of thanks to the board and it officers for the enormous amount of unpaid work they do – often with no thanks and occasionally with unjustified criticism. They deserve all the encouragement we chess players can give them.
3 To thank particularly those board members who are active in the 4ncl for the way they have got online chess up and running. They are a credit to their (unpaid) roles.

I have copied this to chair of council in case my email does not reach you and also to some of the great and good of English chess in the hope it encourages them to persevere in the current climate.

Yours sincerely



Alan
(former chairman of Oxfordshire chess association, life member of Witney chess club)

John Reyes
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Re: ECF Finance Meeting

Post by John Reyes » Fri Jul 03, 2020 12:28 pm

Alan Kennedy wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:38 pm
John Reyes wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:13 pm
/
People are big fans of what we have put on our pages, and I hope that Members of the ECF will Support the ECF till OTB chess happen again
John the forumites might like to see a copy of an email i sent to my bronze representative, Angus French was was as follows (with apologies for the slightly dysilexic english):

From: Alan Kennedy
Sent: 28 June 2020 12:35
To: dnr-bronze-01@englishchess.org.uk
Subject: The running of the ECF

Dear Angus

I advance of the finance council meeting, as a bronze member of the Federation, I should be grateful if you would note my views concerning the running of the ecf which are as follows:

1 that you should vote in flavour of all resolutions proposed by the board. I consider the board have done an amazing task to keep the ECF running in the current crisis and they are to be congratulated.
2 That under “any other business” you should propose a vote of thanks to the board and it officers for the enormous amount of unpaid work they do – often with no thanks and occasionally with unjustified criticism. They deserve all the encouragement we chess players can give them.
3 To thank particularly those board members who are active in the 4ncl for the way they have got online chess up and running. They are a credit to their (unpaid) roles.

I have copied this to chair of council in case my email does not reach you and also to some of the great and good of English chess in the hope it encourages them to persevere in the current climate.

Yours sincerely



Alan
(former chairman of Oxfordshire chess association, life member of Witney chess club)
thanks and it was good to read that.
Any postings on here represent my personal views only

Angus French
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Re: ECF Finance Meeting

Post by Angus French » Sat Jul 18, 2020 9:54 am

It's rather late in the day but here are some notes and comments for what they are worth:

1. There is a problem with setting the budget for the new year: the amount of graded over-the-board chess played in 2020/21 is likely to be substantially less than for recent seasons but it’s impossible to estimate by how much. With this will come a consequent decline in membership numbers. While it’s not the only source of revenue the federation is in large part reliant on membership fee income.

2. It is proposed to leave full membership fees unchanged rather than increase them as had been intended – so the adult Bronze membership fee, for example, will stay at £18 rather than increase to £20. However, the fee to become an ECF Supporter – currently sufficient for participation in ECF-organised / rated online events - is set to increase from £5 to £10. The charge for an upgrade from one membership category (or ECF Supporter) to a higher category is the difference in charge between the two categories.

3. Membership fee income is anticipated to reduce from £203K (the forecast for 2019/20) to £160K. The calculation is based on no 70+ year-olds renewing (some will of course but, to balance, some younger members won’t) and 25% of remaining Bronze members not renewing.

4. Expenditure on International and Junior chess and administration will, it is proposed, be substantially reduced (against both the previous year budget and the previous year forecast). However, the budgets for International, Junior and Women’s chess will be supplemented, if possible, by income from other sources including grants from the Chess Trust and BCF’s Permanent Invested Fund. The ECF Office staff count will be reduced, I think from 2.4, to 2 and staff will work either from a smaller office or from home. The international budget, assuming grant applications are successful, will be £34,123 (£13,900 + £20,223) vs. £43,000 (2019/20 budget). The junior budget will be £500 (£500 + £0) vs. £18,910. The women’s budget will be £12,998 (£2,500 + £10,498) vs. £10,000 – actually an increase. The administration budget will be £111,100 vs. £141,550.

5. Comment: It seems to me that anticipated membership fee income of £160K against forecast income for the current year of just over £200K is optimistic. What if membership fee income reduces by half to £100K?

6. Comment – what happens if expenditure has to be further reduced? The Board has asked (agenda item 12) to be allowed to make changes to the budget. Perhaps it would be helpful if Council provided a steer. If it were me, my top priority would be to retain office capacity (in part because I wouldn’t wish to make staff redundant but also because I imagine other options are more easily temporary and recoverable). Low on my list of priorities would be expenditure on international chess.

7. 2018/19 result. The result was a loss of £64.9K against a budgeted loss of £50.4K. This is attributed to: a) lower entries than anticipated at the British championships; b) extra junior costs due to tidy-up activities; and, c) extra UK Open Blitz costs.

8. Comment - 2018/19 loss. Not mentioned as contributing to the loss is lower-than-anticipated membership fee income of £185K against a budget of £191.5K. This was masked by higher-than-expected game fee income which for some reason had been budgeted lower than previously.

9. The forecast result for 2019/20 is for a surplus of £158 against a budgeted loss of £12.5K. A Government contribution of £20.5K – made up of a payment for furloughed staff and a small business grant - has helped. So far as I can see (from the ECF membership list provided to organisers), the paying membership count at 30 June was 10,847 – an increase of 249 on the previous year but down 574 against the budget (with a junior count of +671 and an adult count of -1,245). Of course, the numbers will have been affected by the pandemic.

10. Comment – recent and forecast results. Of concern is that the federation made losses for each of the three years to 2018/19. The forecast is for a small surplus for 2019/20 (the budget was for a further loss - of £12.5K). This would leave reserves at £36.5K, giving little room for manoeuvre.

11. Comment – review of previous decisions and against strategy. As with previous Finance Council meetings there is no review of the financial decisions taken in previous years or against the federation’s strategy statement. What lessons have been learnt? What is the outcome of the recent increase in expenditure on women’s chess? Why does the federation not have a Development Officer – the board received approval to finance this position in October 2018 but the post has been occupied only for a few months since that time and the position is not currently advertised on the federation’s list of vacancies.

12. The Board is asking Council members for help in persuading federation members to renew. I admit I am ambivalent about this. I recognise the federation needs help and has recently made big efforts to support and provide online competitions. But I’m also conscious that - online chess aside - little has been done in recent years to improve support for clubs and grassroots chess. This is despite above-inflation (perhaps double-inflation) increases in membership fee rates since the inception of the membership scheme. I was hoping the appointment of a Development Officer would help but this hasn’t happened. I feel too much is spent on international chess and dislike the lack of transparency on how the money is spent.

Ian Thompson
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Re: ECF Finance Meeting

Post by Ian Thompson » Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:05 am

Angus French wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 9:54 am
3. Membership fee income is anticipated to reduce from £203K (the forecast for 2019/20) to £160K. The calculation is based on no 70+ year-olds renewing (some will of course but, to balance, some younger members won’t) and 25% of remaining Bronze members not renewing.

5. Comment: It seems to me that anticipated membership fee income of £160K against forecast income for the current year of just over £200K is optimistic. What if membership fee income reduces by half to £100K?
I think you might reasonably ask why the Finance Director's report doesn't consider the worst case scenario in the Membership Director's report on predicted renewals, which is that net membership income, after deduction of VAT, drops to just under £50K.

Paul Cooksey
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Re: ECF Finance Meeting

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:07 am

I am fairly sympathetic to the boards proposal going into the meeting. I think the two main options are continue as best possible until the long term impacts clearer, as proposed, or restructure radically now. I've been in favour of restructure for some time, but I can wait.

Good to have Angus' view. Disagreeing on one point though, membership in line with inflation would have seen bronze go from £12.00 in 2015 to about £13.40 now, rather than £18 with a deferred rise to £20. I think the current Board have been straightforward that raising ECF income has been a top priority. But personally I don't see the ECF doing much more now than it did then, so I am not convinced it is a good strategy.

But still, I am inclined towards weathering the storm before replotting the course, unless persuaded otherwise

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: ECF Finance Meeting

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:13 am

"7. 2018/19 result. The result was a loss of £64.9K against a budgeted loss of £50.4K. This is attributed to: a) lower entries than anticipated at the British championships; b) extra junior costs due to tidy-up activities;"

a) might not have been helped by the policy of reducing entries for the Championship itself.

b) What does that mean? Did they trash the place?

Angus French
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Re: ECF Finance Meeting

Post by Angus French » Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:35 am

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:07 am
Good to have Angus' view. Disagreeing on one point though, membership in line with inflation would have seen bronze go from £12.00 in 2015 to about £13.40 now, rather than £18 with a deferred rise to £20. I think the current Board have been straightforward that raising ECF income has been a top priority. But personally I don't see the ECF doing much more now than it did then, so I am not convinced it is a good strategy.
Ah, I think we're in agreement. A table of membership fees since inception of the membership scheme is here - though it's not updated with the new proposed fees for 20/21.

Angus French
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Re: ECF Finance Meeting

Post by Angus French » Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:43 am

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:13 am
"7. 2018/19 result. The result was a loss of £64.9K against a budgeted loss of £50.4K. This is attributed to: a) lower entries than anticipated at the British championships; b) extra junior costs due to tidy-up activities;"
...
b) What does that mean? Did they trash the place?
Ha ha. Here's the text from the Finance Director's report:
Finance Director's report wrote:Additional costs were incurred in the Junior directorate, mainly because of dealing with some of the costs of tidying up the international and Academy activities that were previously operated by the ECF. The current Director has now instituted new arrangements for operating overseas events and for the Academy which, by outsourcing the management of and thereby effectively de-risking these events, should avoid future unplanned costs for the ECF.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: ECF Finance Meeting

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat Jul 18, 2020 12:08 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:13 am
a) might not have been helped by the policy of reducing entries for the Championship itself.
I thought overall the entries were at near record levels. There did seem to be a financial about turn on subsidies for top players in the Championship. As late as the end of June 2019, some were bemoaning that they couldn't get any response out of the ECF as to whether "conditions" would be available and if so how much. In the event a respectable quorum entered. What in earlier years might have been the tail of the British of players paying £ 200 or £ 300 to enter were excluded and were either not there at all, in the Major Open or Senior events, in all cases paying no or a much lower entry fee.

LawrenceCooper
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Re: ECF Finance Meeting

Post by LawrenceCooper » Sat Jul 18, 2020 12:08 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:13 am
"7. 2018/19 result. The result was a loss of £64.9K against a budgeted loss of £50.4K. This is attributed to: b) extra junior costs due to tidy-up activities;"

b) What does that mean? Did they trash the place?
:lol:

John Reyes
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Re: ECF Finance Meeting

Post by John Reyes » Sat Jul 18, 2020 1:23 pm

There a lot of people already on the Zoom Meeting
Any postings on here represent my personal views only

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