Summer has become a time largely of hiatus for the Local Living Venture (LLV) since we have found that participation in workshops drop precipitously at this time of year -- everyone is in their gardens or away, so we use this time for setting up outreach booths at Festivals and catching our breath while setting up for the rest of the year!
We're a "non-profit", so why don't we continue workshops even with low attendance? The answer is the one thing we never wish to feel beholden to (which is partly why we went with a nonprofit model for the LLV) and that one thing is the almighty dollar. Arg, the irony of being held up by such a trite thing as the false god of cold hard cash. But it is true that very few of our 36-52 workshops per year actually turn a profit, much less even pay for themselves.
We may be a non-profit but we still have to operate like any other enterprise, paying our bills and keeping those bills as low as possible. The economic realitites of operating in our region is that we cannot charge the real cost of hosting a workshop. We see constant examples of workshops (that we charge $17 to $22 for) being done very similarly elsewhere for $75 to $150, rarely less than $50. Whether hosted here or elsewhere, this higher pricing does reflect the reality of the cost to produce them.
Aside from specific material costs, each workshop we produce takes approximately 20 to 32 hours of creation, preparation and implementation.
* 7 - 10 hours of time spent by our Education & Outreach Facilitator (a paid position, therefore costing $84 to $120 per event)
* 8 - 12 hours of time spent by our main coordinator (a fully volunteer, unpaid position )
* 5 - 10 hours spent by our volunteer Presenters (each of whom volunteer their time in order for us to collect the full workshop donations received.)
We're pleased if we can bring in $200 for a workshop (some do bring in more, others little or none at all) but as you can see above, there is no way workshops are actually paying for themselves -- especially when you include the volunteer labor gifted us, at least some of which really should be renumerated.
See the Finances portion of our Annual Report for details if you're interested in knowing more.
We constantly straddle the line of
- not wanting to have to charge anything at all, but needing to
- wanting to pay everyone who shares so much of themselves for the community, but not being able to even consider doing so
- charging as much as we do for workshops and not alienating people who can't afford it (all events are available to attend with a no questions asked "scholarship")
- having to put on events that will attract enough people to help the financial bottom line, rather than adding some of the more specialty things that people might also like for us to do but that are likely to have low attendance.
Couple those issues with
- the distances people have to travel in our area making it difficult to reach the full audience we actually do have, but who can't make it to events at a distance
- needing more volunteers but hitting the brick wall of how over-committed people are these days - and our own need to create a dynamic listing of volunteer opportunities for people to tap into! (Need a volunteer for that! haha! But it's true.)
- the unsustainability of our all-volunteer leadership. The LLV cannot grow into it's potential with an unpaid coordinator putting in 70 hours a week. New voices are being heard on our current Board of Directors and more people are needed. Please join a committee, or just take on a task or project.
If you have some small amount of time each week you can contribute please be in touch - help to assure the LLV goes on with our mission of sharing local skills with local folks, in a sustainable and healthy way for all of us in the St. Lawrence River Valley / Adirondack foothills region!
We'd love to work with you, and the survival of the LLV depends on it!
(315) 347 4223