Starting 2021 with a Tailwind

In this post, I’d like to follow up on Aaron’s from last week about hope for 2021. There are a lot of things out of our control, right now, for which hope will help us over the next few months: vaccine distribution, testing, mask mandates. However, there are some very tangible things that will help Welty hit the ground running this year, so we can fully prepare for when in-person activities resume.

The main tangible is the fantastic show of generosity by our wonderful members. The outpouring of support allowed us to easily meet (and surpass) our goal of raising $30,000 so we were eligible for a 3-to-1 match, contributed by Dave and Stephanie Dobson and an anonymous donor.  Thanks to all these members and the match, we raised $126,000 for the 2020 Appeal. Wow!

Rime frost coats Big Hill Park, Jan. 2021

It will have a slow start

This is critical funding for Welty in a couple of ways. The majority of this income will be deposited into our General Endowment so we can grow the capital; its interest becomes an unrestricted grant that we can use for staff salaries, or other expenses that are important to programming.

The rest we can keep in the bank to use for operating costs when cash flow is low (months with less programs or without fundraisers). These gifts become part of our long-term financial security and also help us keep our attendance fees low or non-existent, so more Stateline residents can afford to participate in our programs.

…but I’m optimistic for 2021.

We are going to start working on the job search for a new Environmental Educator, and this financial security allows us to offer a competitive salary, so we can attract qualified candidates. It’s important to demonstrate our commitment to a fair rate, so applicants see Welty as a place to develop their careers and not just a short stop before their next job. 

This security also gives us some flexibility in planning and we can try new programs and events, to experiment with what resonates with the community.  We’ve been able to offer virtual programming and field trip kits at a reduced cost to Beloit classroom, thanks to help from grants. We can also innovate with our public programs and camps, as the year progresses.

It will have a slow start, but I’m optimistic for 2021. Once it is safe to gather, I imagine folks will be hungry for group experiences and fun events to do together. I look forward to that time, but am also excited about virtual activities that we can do for now (check out “The Trouble with Wolves”). So thank you to everyone who donated (you still can here!), and here’s to the New Year!

Brenda Plakans
Executive Director, WEC