Greetings to all of our KCC community,
This letter serves to update you on how the Covid-19 pandemic is impacting KCC's programming and financial situation.
We had a robust program of events scheduled for 2020. But when the implications of the virus became apparent, KCC was quick to make the painful decision to suspend in-person gatherings, including our Spring Personal Retreats at our retreat land. Nearly every aspect of KCC’s operations has been impacted—from programs to committee work to facility maintenance and more.
The loss of our ability to gather at KCC has been acutely felt by the sangha, but it has also provided us with occasion to offer more frequent, weekday meditations. Now, instead of streaming, we use interactive streaming software which has manifested connections that were previously hidden behind the one-way streaming camera, and now we can all be buoyed by each other’s smiling, supportive faces. Many have expressed how meaningful it has been to feel support from the center and its members in this time of uncertainty and isolation.
The Program Council is meeting regularly to strategize about how to offer a slate of programs during this time of physical distancing. We are using interactive streaming to present most of our regularly scheduled events such as Chenrezi practice, Tara meditation, and some of our study groups. We are offering classes and will soon experiment with online retreats; we are stuck at home, so why not include some more intensive, structured periods of meditation? Please know that it is our intention to continue to offer all the programs we can, including new offerings of home-based study, meditation, and retreat. Our mission has not changed, just the way we will deliver it.
Significant Financial Impact
An unfortunate outcome of the Covid-19 situation is that the many previously planned retreats and our annual Blooming Lotus fundraiser, which usually comprise a significant portion of our annual income, are uncertain at this time. Nevertheless, there are insurance, maintenance, and routine expenses to support our facilities, along with the salaries of paid staff and other costs.
On a very positive note, thanks to the previous support of generous members and prudent guidance and planning, we own the urban center on Skidmore and the retreat facilities at Ser Chö Ösel Ling outright, and, incredibly, we have no debt of any kind. Targeted fundraising this spring has nearly funded the Emeritus Lama Fund to provide support for Lama Michael and Tara Sullivan. Also, for some years, it has been the policy of the Board to keep 6 months of operating reserves in the bank, and we currently have about $100,000 in savings. Though the reserves could cover the shortfall for the year, it seems prudent to maintain this balance for as long as possible, since the current situation is unfolding and other unforeseen events — Covid-related or not — are inevitable.
The Finance Committee, Board of Directors, Executive Director and myself have pored over the budget to find ways of reducing expenses. Though many businesses and organizations are experiencing existential crises, I’m happy to report that KCC’s situation is not so dire. Our best guess at the deficit for 2020 is projected to be around $40,000.
The following are some of the ways we will be working to generate income.
I am pleased to announce that we have qualified for a grant through the Payroll Protection Program to maintain paid staff critical to support the activities of the center. Our good friend and advisor, Steve Unangst, along with the Finance Committee, submitted our application as soon as possible. KCC could receive as much as $20,000 to help continue to pay employees.
A few members have already mentioned that they would like to contribute their $1,200 stimulus checks to the center. Of course this is welcome, but we are also sensitive to the fact that some people will need that money themselves. Some may have family, friends, or other organizations that they would like to assist, and that is wonderful. But for others, the money will just be a windfall, and if that is your situation and you’d like to use it to help KCC through this drought of income, it would be most welcome.
Support from the Sangha
Everything that the center is and does comes down to the aspirations and support of the KCC community. KCC’s sustaining members’ intentions and financial contributions enable this spiritual community to manifest in the world to support us and to welcome those searching for a spiritual home. Many feel that the access they receive — to true dharma, rooted in a connection to an authentic lineage, that provides opportunity for learning, practice, guidance, and community — to be priceless. We have to recognize however, that although it is priceless, it is not without cost.
In addition to program revenue, an average of about $1,000 per year per active member is about what it takes to run the center. For those with little or no means to support KCC, our facilities and programs are here to use, free of charge. But for those of us who benefit from it and do have means, it’s important that we help sustain it. If you do not already contribute, consider pledging an ongoing financial commitment or even increasing your current pledge. Some can offer $5,000 a year, others $1,000 or $500 or less. The amount one gives will be up to the individual, but our hope is that all who benefit will sign up as sustaining members, according to their means. Personally, when I first came to KCC, I was 24 years old and not making much money. But it was extremely empowering to be able to contribute to manifesting in the world something I saw to hold so much value.
If you have questions of any kind, feel free to reach out to me, Linda Grove—the Executive Director, or any member of the Board or Program Council. We all continue to meet and work, searching for ways to support the community in our pursuit of meeting all challenges and opportunities buoyed by wisdom, compassion, and skillful activity.
Wishing good practice to all!
Lama Eric Triebelhorn