Board Update: Fall 2017

Against the backdrop of the beautiful autumn foliage, the Louis August Jonas Foundation’s fall Board of Directors’ meeting convened at Camp Rising Sun this past weekend. Thank you to the alumni and friends who were able to join us at the meeting, which coincided with our annual fall retreat. On Saturday, October 14, Board members reflected on the 2016-17 fiscal year, reviewed organizational goals and the 5-year Strategic Plan, and completed a walk-through of the facilities with our Buildings & Grounds Committee. For those who were unable to join us in person, please take a moment to read the updates from the Board meeting below.


Financial Update on Fiscal Year 2016-17

October marks the beginning of a new fiscal year (FY) at LAJF. In FY 2016-17, the Foundation increased its fundraising by more than 20% to over $562,000. Thank you to all of the alumni and friends who made this possible. In addition to increased fundraising, LAJF expenses came in under budget making for a balanced budget for the third year in a row.

The Finance & Investment Committee reported that an increase in fundraising and fiscally responsible budgeting resulted in a 5.2% draw from the investment portfolio, which is less than our anticipated draw. As of September 2017, LAJF’s total portfolio is now valued over $10.5 million, an almost 12% increase for the fiscal year. The Committee recognized and applauded the management team’s work towards sustainability by managing expenses, improving fundraising, and continuing to reduce the draw on the portfolio.

President-elect Tim Conners commented that our 5-year Strategic Plan had only projected a $9.7 million portfolio at the end of this fiscal year with a 6.6% draw from the portfolio – with an aspiration to reduce the draw to 4.8% by the fifth year. Given our current financial situation, we are taking steps to meet this goal and we should be able to continue operating without any untimely redemptions or withdrawals to meet expenses in case the market experiences heightened volatility in the next several months.

As the Foundation continues to work towards meeting our long-term strategic goals, Board President, Damian Brennan, is proud of the progress that has been achieved thus far.

Fundraising is up, financial discipline is clearly evident, our facilities are improving, the program is providing an extraordinary experience to gifted young people and our investments are performing well. I want to thank all of the people who have contributed their time, talent and financial support to our successful efforts to put the LAJF on a sustainable path.
— Damian Brennan, LAJF Board President

In addition to reviewing the current financial situation, the Board unanimously approved the 2017-18 budget of $1,229,470, a 1.7% increase from the 2016-17 budget of $1,208,000. The Finance & Investment, as well as the Executive Committees, thoroughly reviewed the budget at their fall meetings before it was ratified by the full Board.

While we have much to celebrate for the 2016-17 fiscal year, significant challenges remain.  The Strategic Plan’s ambitious fundraising goal of $650,000 was not reached. Although fundraising increased by over $100,000 last year, we continue to strive towards our goal of $650,000 in the year ahead. The Strategic Plan projects we will have to reach and demonstrate the ability to maintain annual fundraising of $1.1 million in order to have a sustainable path to be able to deliver simultaneous 7-week programs across two sites in the future. With strong support from alumni and others, our vision can be realized.


Looking Forward

Following the Board meeting, alumni and friends toured the Camp Rising Sun facilities with Buildings & Grounds Committee Chair, Tom Spurge, to help envision proposed renovations to the dining hall, staff restrooms, planned lean-tos and other cost-effective and necessary improvements to the facilities. Facilities Manager, Cameron Rylance, has already begun making many repairs in line with the recommendations from the Clinton Facilities Assessment that was published earlier this year. The proposed renovations mark a significant evolution of Camp Rising Sun and the Foundation by opening up the possibility of utilizing the property in the off-season for rentals and extended programming.    


Looking at the year ahead, the Board is preparing for a succession of leadership as Damian Brennan’s term as President comes to an end this spring.  At the April Board meeting, we will welcome President-elect Tim Conners as the new President of the LAJF Board of Directors. Tim Conners (CRS ‘73) brings to the Board over 35 years of business experience in a variety of functions including manufacturing, finance, sales, marketing, business development and strategic planning. We want to thank Damian Brennan for his dedicated leadership, which has helped the Foundation set itself on a path towards sustainability. We are eager to continue down this path with the Board leadership of Tim Conners.

The Foundation is looking forward to another great year as we begin planning for summer 2018. The LAJF staff is eager to start mobilizing the camper selection process and look forward to working more closely with our volunteers and committees this year. If you are interested in joining a committee, getting more involved, or have general questions, please email us at

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