The Wharton Club of New York
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Hosted by DLA Piper US LLP
Roe Bonelli (via phone)
Thanks to DLA Piper US LLP for hosting this meeting.
I. Chairman's Remarks (Nigel Edelshain)
The Chairman called the meeting to order at 7:15 pm and the board minutes of 06/16/08 was reviewed.
Motion to accept minutes:
Motion: William Haddad
Second: Dana Michael
II. President's Report (Kenneth Beck)
Joseph Wharton Dinner
- The President reported that the Joseph Wharton Dinner had two challenges (1) The economy and (2) the fact that the Wharton School had scheduled the dedication of a medical building on campus the same date as the dinner. He noted that in the future the date will be cleared with the School and the Dean's office. The numbers from the dinner were reported as following:
- 220 people attended.
- $245K in Sponsorships.
- Sponsorship decrease by $50K from the year before.
- Ticket Sales decreased by 100 compared to the prior two years.
- The preliminary numbers indicated that the Club had cleared in excess of $100K, and we were able to cut expenses without damaging the Wharton brand.
- Award recipients responded more positively than the previous year and we have been successful in having past recipients involved in the process of presenting awards to new honorees.
- Given the state of the economy we reduced our guarantee with the Pierre Hotel from 300 attendees to 280 attendees and got a total of 220 attendees. This resulted in an additional expense of approximately $10-$12K and we made arrangement with the Pierre Hotel to donate the additional 60 meals to City Harvest.
- Showtime Inc. not only became a sponsor for the event but was also the source of in- kind donation. Showtime underwrote the cost of the DVD's for the dinner which eliminated an additional expense from our budget. Copies of the DVD's will be distributed as a momento.
- Allen suggested that, assuming the economy remains weak next year; a smaller room would create a more intimate setting. Kenny noted that the steering committee in collaboration with Paint the Town Red now has the planning of the dinner down to a science, and expressed enthusiasm that it will continue to run smoothly. Kenny mentioned the following other positive notes:
- Interaction continues between the Wharton Club and the development and corporate relations team at the Wharton School, which has now developed a very symbiotic relationship.
- Bill noted that it is the general membership who attends our events. Kenny gave credit to the entire infracture that the Club has set-up.
- We no longer rely on dues for membership as all Alumni are members of the organization, and paying dues just provides additional benefits to a member.
- This model has changed the perception of the organization and changed the definition and meaning of “engaging” our volunteers.
- We touch Alumni through the e-newsletter and we have in excess of 250 events per year.
- Kenny noted that one of the original committees on our org chart was the Government Relations Committee which might be the platform to launch the Club's involvement in government matters, e.g. the Debate on the Economic Policies of John McCain and Barack Obama and the Private Briefing with Theodore C. Sorensen. The debate on the Economic Policies was recorded and is now posted on the Club's website. Kenny noted that we are also maintaining a rapport with our past award recipients and keeping them involved, e.g. Aditya Mittal W`96 of Mittal Steel Company Ltd, who reached out to us for access to a copy of the aforementioned Debate on the Economic Policies of John McCain and Barack Obama.
- Allen suggested inviting a political person to the Joseph Wharton dinner as a means of raising visibility and recognizing honorees. Kenny said we have asked the Mayor to write a letter but we have never actually extended an invitation. Allen suggested inviting Congressman Anthony Weiner next year. Hans noted that several years ago Mayor Rudy Giuliani was invited and he accepted.
- Allen expressed his concern regarding us becoming complacent just because we are no longer relying on dues financially. Kenny reassured the board that all events have to at least breakeven and that all events bring in a small profit. He added that the idea of the Joseph Wharton Dinner is to deposit the proceeds from the dinner and try to get to a point where the Club can fund itself from interest earned on its assets.
- The Club also has other revenue sources such as a $250 a month residual income from the Atlantis Health Plans. We have approximately 45+ people covered and we continue to receive quite a few inquiries from Alumni within New York City.
- The idea is to implement a tiered structure for membership dues. Allen suggested that VIP events will set the pace for tiered membership. The strategy of the Club is to provide events to senior membership that is of value. The Club provided no discount tickets for the Joseph Wharton Dinner and set the ticket price at a level which targets senior Alumni.
- Due to the various events, the Joseph Wharton dinner and membership dues, the Club does have diversified revenue. The Club events are generally priced at $20 for members and $40 for non members.
Finance Division presentation made by Roe Bonelli
- The Club has a Cash Balance of approximately $195k;
- The Club has 2 Certificates of Deposit of - $206K and $40K, respectively, pending deposit;
- As discussed in our last board meeting, the Club will transfer one of its CD's to avoid concentration in one single bank account;
- One of the Club's CDs will be maturing on Saturday, October 25th.
- Allen suggested that we put the money in a bank that is receiving money from the Treasury such as JP Morgan Chase or Citibank.
The Club's revenues have improved tremendously. As of June 30, 2008 we had the following performer numbers:
- Total Revenues -$545K
- Total Expenses -$355K
- Net Income - $190K
- Joseph Wharton Dinner Net Income- $200K
- Overall membership revenue increased from $71K in 2007 to $75K in 2008.
- Newsletter expenses in 2007 were $47K and $62K in 2008.
- There is nothing to offset the newsletter expenses and we will need to figure out how to balance our expenses.
- Year to date (exclusive of the dinner) the Club had an increase of 53% in revenue and an increase of 62% in expenses.
- The management committee has sent in their budget projection and the finance division is still working on the process, i.e., budget v actual.
- It was suggested that we send out letters to invite non dues paying members to become paid members.
- Suggestion was also made to have a value proposition prepared in connection with such invitation.
- The Newsletter has tremendous value and is the only communication we have for approximately 60% of the Alumni base.
- The Newsletter is an excellent vehicle for people to reach a high network community.
- Kenny reviewed the economics of the Newsletter and noted that the mission is the break even and the goal is to have a revenue stream.
- The Club is looking at the possibility of finding a company that will take the publication, allow us to keep the content and then split the profits with us.
Programming Division presented by Regina Jaslow
- The Speaker Series Committee is doing well under the leadership of Jennifer Gregoriou who is now also responsible for the Westchester and Fairfield Speaker Series Committee. Jennifer is trying to revive that committee and they have an upcoming event in December featuring Jim Turley, President and CEO of Ernst and Young. The goal is 8 events per year and they have already had several events.
- Regina then reviewed the status of the Social and Special Events Committee, Community Services Committee and the University Relations Committee.
- Allen suggested that a happy hour before a board meeting would be great.
IV. Other Business presented by Kenny Beck
- Kenny reported that the Club is tracking well ahead in its events, the divisions are broken up into functional areas and the number one goal is to break even.
- Kenny made mention of the debate noting that it was a “bottom-up” idea and the point person was Kent Trabing. The responses were positive and the Wharton School now looks to us for leadership.
- Hans commented on the success of the module for the New York Club and asked if we are involved with the other Clubs. Kenny noted that many people are banging their heads against the wall trying to find a solution and said he is advocating to create a Global Alumni Association.
- Allen suggested that the Club should franchise the dinner to other Clubs as a means of shearing ideas.
- Bill inquired if there is anything that the Club could do to help Alumni. Kenny noted that in these tough times we need to help Alumni find jobs instead of speaker series. The “Take the Call” Forum allows an alum to say “I would like to reach this person and help make the introduction.” There are two sides to this approach:
1. Technical side - Take the Call Forum
2. Personal side -Help make the connection when looking for a job.
- Allen said that the Take the Call Forum is a terrific infrastructure to help people and that we need to advertise it more.
New Business presentation by Kenny Beck
There being no new business to discuss the meeting was adjourned at 8:13 pm.
Motion to adjourned Meeting
Motion: Allen Levinson
Second: Dana Michael
Minutes respectfully submitted by Stephanie Shaw