We hope that your summer is starting off as well as possible and that you and your family are healthy. Like you, we wish that our campers were spending today running around camp, laughing, trying new activities, swimming in Laurel Lake, playing with great friends, and singing camp songs! Unfortunately, instead we are writing to share the financial status of camp given the necessity to close for the 2020 season.
Fleur de Lis has lost close to $750,000 in camper tuition revenue that would have come from this summer. Our Executive Director, MJ Parry, and Board Treasurer, Christine Cressey, have worked to reduce our yearly expenditures as much as possible in response to the lost income. However many of our expenses are fixed or ongoing. For example, camp spends about $130,000 a year on property taxes and insurance.
Our tuition income generally covers about 85% of our operating expenses. This is then supplemented with donations from our yearly “Friends” annual appeal. This is standard practice across the nonprofit camping industry. Fleur de Lis has not operated at a loss in years past and has met its budget with this combination of tuition income and annual appeal donations.
Even with cuts to our expenses where possible, Fleur de Lis faces a net loss of $400,000 for fiscal year 2020 which ends September 30. In addition as we incur expenses for the next fiscal year, we will need an additional $400,000 to cover expenses until tuition for summer 2021 starts to come in. For clarification, one summer of tuition covers expenses for the second half of a fiscal year and the first half of the following fiscal year.
Two major roles of our board are to ensure that Fleur de Lis continues to serve its mission and remains the home away from home for girls for generations to come. This includes maintaining and managing camp’s financial health. It is a heavy responsibility and a duty we approach with our utmost seriousness and determination.
In order to help secure Fleur de Lis’s financial health and its future, we have undertaken a multi-faceted approach to financial recovery. This includes:
Resetting Financial Priorities: The loss of a full year of income compels us to examine all of our financial endeavors. Through this process, we have made the decision to postpone the Farmhouse project and Capital Campaign for at least five years. In the interim, we will look at the possibility of funding base level work to make the Farmhouse usable.
Cutting Expenses: We have carefully reviewed the budget to reduce expenditures where possible while still ensuring that we will be able to offer an outstanding program to our campers when we return to camp and to maintain our facilities appropriately. Part of this effort has included a reduction in our full-time staffing. We have eliminated one Assistant Director position and reduced our Accounting and Office Manager position. We have also been able to reduce other budgeted expenses.
Securing Available Grant Money: Early on, FdL secured a Paycheck Protection Program grant that offset our payroll expenses through the spring. Additionally, we have applied for a New Hampshire Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund grant, and expect to hear from the State in August if FdL will receive a grant. We will continue to aggressively explore other state and federal relief grants available to nonprofit organizations impacted by COVID-19.
Borrowing: We have worked closely with FdL’s bank and have submitted a loan application to help us pay immediate expenses. The bank has made this a positive experience and we anticipate a low-interest line of credit will be forthcoming.
Effective Money Management: FdL has a reserve fund worth about $1 million. While we utilize the interest from this fund to offset expenses, we also recognize that tapping into the principal from this account is not financially responsible for ensuring the long-term fiscal health of camp. This fund, along with our property, are our greatest assets. We borrow against these assets and show our vitality in grant applications. We know that if we spend down our reserve fund, it puts us in a position that may be insurmountable in the future if camp faces another financial crisis such as an additional summer closure or natural disaster.
Enrollment: Certainly our financial health relies upon a full camp. A strong recruitment strategy and efforts are in development for 2021. We all have a role to play in introducing Fleur de Lis to potential campers and their families. We are pleased that so many of our 2020 families have said that they are not only looking forward to summer 2021 but also planning to extend their length of time at camp.
Fundraising: We are poised to launch a major campaign to help alleviate our current financial crisis and ensure Fleur de Lis’s fiscal health as we move forward. All of us – current and former parents, alumnae, staff, and friends of camp – can work together to save Fleur de Lis from this crisis. Look for important information about this opportunity on Sunday, July 12 (Visiting Day).
While this is certainly the biggest financial crisis Fleur de Lis has ever faced, it is not insurmountable. Over 90 years ago, the women who founded Fleur de Lis envisioned a camp where girls could be their true selves, have opportunities to try new things and take exciting risks, build lifelong friendships, and develop enduring values and leadership skills. That vision is realized every summer, and with all of us working together, will continue to be realized for many many years to come.
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Diane (Di) Foster, Board President on behalf of the FdL board
Libby Williams, Vice President Christine Hassig Cressey, Treasurer Liz Ramos, Secretary Ingrid Haessler Scanlon, Member-At-Large Allison McCartney, Member-At-Large