General Body Meeting

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Dear Sanskriti members & friends,
Please click to see Minutes of General Body Meeting held on December 5, 2015

Sanskriti General Body Annual Meeting Minutes

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Attendees – (sign-up sheet – available on request)

Community Council President Buddha Dev Paul opened the meeting. He informed the attendees of the various organization structures and their compositions:
Three primary committees –

  • 1. Sanskriti Board of Directors (BoD) – 9 members
  • 2. Community Council (CC) – 5 members [current members: Budhadeb Paul, Saibal De, Tapan Bera, Rama Saha and Nandita Dasgupta] The CC appoints two other ad hoc committees:
    • Audit committee – [current Chair: Sudhanshu Saha]
    • Election Committee – [current Chair: Chinmoy Mitra]
  • 3. Sanskriti Asset Oversight Committee (SAOC) – Maximum 9 members, including 3 members of the current BoD (President, Secretary, Treasurer). The current SAOC has 8 members. The nominated 5 are: Sudhanshu Saha, Biswanath Chatterjee, Somnath Som, Asok Motayed and Jayati Bera. At its July 14, 2014 meeting (at 203 Lower Country Dr., Gaithersburg, Md), Sudhanshu Saha was elected SAOC Chair for a 3-year term, starting July 31,2014,

BoD President Kamanashish Chakravorty (KC) thanked the community on behalf of the Board, for the opportunity to serve. He informed the gathering about some new investments / expenses by BoD, different from previous years:

  • BoD has made a total donation of $2000 to charities in 2015, which fulfills one of its 501(c3) obligations:
    • Contribution to Nepal earthquake incident – $1500 ($1000 from community collection plus $500 from Sanskriti)
    • Contribution to DC kitchen (for the homeless in DC) – $250
    • Contribution to Christ House (provides health care to the homeless in DC) – $250
  • BoD spent $2,001 on new development of the Sanskriti website and online directory database.
  • BoD rented a Public Storage facility (on Goshen Road), which will be a recurring expense carrying forward to 2016

Regarding the Sanskriti website, KC mentioned that several features are in development, and, hopefully, will be completed by Dec.

  • Open blog for members to post discussions
  • PDF of Nabapatrika 2015 to be posted on the website (in addition to the hard copy distributed during Durga Puja)
  • Online Member Directory that will enable members to update their contact information in real time, using their User ID and Passcode. He explained that the errors in the directory resulted from incompatibility of old database with the new, but once each member registers online and sets up individual accounts, the profiles can be corrected; BoD (Mihir Ghosh) has manually corrected many errors and further corrections are in progress. Online support is available through support@sanskriti-dc.org

KC mentioned that there was a record turnout during Durga Puja, which significantly increased revenue. However, this also led to problems. Montgomery County School authorities have noted that they are not equipped to handle a crowd of 900+ people and so, they might raise this issue next year, suggesting that Sanskriti use other types of public facilities.
KC also noted that despite new investments/ expenses, BoD 2015 is expected to end its term with a significant surplus in Sanskriti’s Operational Fund (of $50K). KC then requested BoD Treasurer to present the budget.

BoD Treasurer Mihir Ghosh (MG) went over the following documents:

  1. Income Statement Summary, Jan 1-Dec 31, 2015
  2. Schedule of Expenses, Jan 1-Dec 31, 2015
  3. Break up of Income from Major Events, Jan 1-Dec 31, 2015

At the onset, he thanked the dedicated people from the community who volunteered to help with the registration during the various puja events. He also noted that the total overhaul of the auditing and accounting process by Sudhanshu Saha and Asok Motayed, respectively, made significant difference in completing the accounting accurately, immediately after each event.
The key changes implemented were:

  • On-the-spot auditing at each collection table by cross-checking money / checks against ticket receipts
  • 2nd audit while adding collections across all tables
  • Data entry onto computer, immediately after each event, using the data from on-site audits
  • Deposit of money in the bank following data entry

Sudhanshu Saha emphasized that the above process is efficacious and extremely transparent due to several checks and balances. By keeping a running audit throughout the year, the final auditing burden is made easier and there is greater accuracy.

MG recommended that these changes be incorporated as part of the regular auditing/accounting process, going forward. This was unanimously accepted by the attendees.

MG informed that despite a large number of expenses throughout the year, and the fact that Sanskriti operated on negative budget on 3 major events (Saraswati Puja, Summer Festival, Summer Picnic), it eventually made positive earnings during Durga Puja, mainly through donations and both on-site and online pre-registration, as there were record number of attendees. Significant revenue was also earned through sponsorship of Srikanta’s performance in various cities (New Jersey, North Carolina, etc.). Six (6) groups paid Sanskriti, about $4000 each, while Sanskriti covered the performer’s travel cost, visa fees, etc. Sanskriti also saved money (in kind) as PMG printed Nabapatrika for free (raising money through advertisements) and only charged Sanskriti for shipping.

Estimating the costs for the upcoming New Year’s Celebration and accounting for General & Administrative / Other Costs, the Treasurer projected that the current BoD will leave a surplus of $2,140, approximately.

MG went over the assets, liabilities and equities, summarizing that the total liabilities and equities are $284,794.62, of which $275,994.62 is the total cash in the bank and the remaining $8,800 in current assets (including pre-paid facility’s rental for Saraswati Puja 2016).

Q/A from attendees and BoD –

  • Issues related to items reported within “Income Statement Summary”
    • Attendees requested that BoD should include the number of registrants / attendees for each of the events organized by Sanskriti, which would provide some estimate for 2016
    • Attendees sought clarity regarding the Total Assets / Liability and Equity – MG mentioned that detailed breakdown would be provided in electronic Tables
    • Attendees requested that BoD should adjust the calculations after Dec 31, 2015, to report the current assets ($8,800) accurately
    • Attendees requested that BoD provide all receipts / hard copies of documents, to be stored for future reference. KC informed that hard copies must be kept for a minimum of 3 years for IRS audit, and probably even up to 7-10 years
  • Issues related to items reported within “Breakup of Income from Major Events”
    • Attendees requested that BoD should provide a breakdown for the amount collected through donations and that collected through registration
  • Issues related to items reported within “Schedule of Expenses”
    • Questions were raised about the “Bridge Competition Prizes” valued at $71.80. KC informed that Sanskriti sponsored the Trophy and Mintu Pal knows that Sanskriti only pays for this tournament and no other sports activities
    • KC also informed that in 2015, BoD paid a “Partnering Fee” of $500 to NABC 2016. This partnership will enable Sanskriti to earn a percentage of the registration fee when Sanskriti community members register on-line for NABC 2016

Auditor’s Report
Final auditing (for 2014) done by Sudhanshu Saha, Utpal Dasgupta, and Somnath Som. Auditor sends report to CC. The CC is to review the data and then send an e-mail to the community.

Some attendees raised question about the 2013 audit, for which there is no report. KC said that he would check with Sanghamitra and request her to present the information. (Update: In response to KC’s e-mail [12/5/15] on the topic, Sanghamitra said she would soon send her report)

Report from the Election Committee

Chinmoy Mitra presented the results on behalf of the election committee. Nominations were solicited from August 30, 2015 and the deadline was September 7. There were 8 positions open for BOD, one each for community council and Election committee. Apparently, no nominations were received from the community, until 2 days before the deadline but with the help from some active community members the problem was solved. There were eight
nominations for the BOD positions (Aloke Roy, Atanu DuttaRoy, Anubrata Chowdhury, Mitali Chatterjee, Madhumita Sircar, Shekhar Ghosh, Pallabi Ghosh (Guharoy) and Rupa Biswas) one nomination for CC (Chinmoy Mitra) and one nomination for EC (Rabin Roy) and the results were communicated by email to current community council members. The newly elected members met on Nov 14 to finalize office portfolios. Debanjan Biswas, who was nominated last year for a 2-year term, continues with BoD 2016.

The composition of the 2016 BoD is as follows:

President – Aloke Roy Food Secretary – Shekhar Ghosh
Secretary – Atanu Dutta Roy Publications Sec. – Debanjan Biswas
Treasurer – Madhumita Sircar Registration Sec. – Pallabi Ghosh
Cultural Secretary – Anubrata Chowdhury Outreach and Youth activity – Mitali Chatterjee
Puja Activities – Roopa Biswas

Question was raised whether there would be a conflict of interest regarding Bishwanath Chatterjee serving on SAOC and Mitali Chatterjee serving on BoD. Attendees unanimously welcomed the enthusiasm of the Chatterjees to serve in the community, given that volunteers are hard to find, and agreed to change any byelaw, through due process, in case there were any restrictions.

Everyone agreed that certain byelaws are outdated and need to be amended. The process to change byelaws would be as follows:

  • Email recommendations to BoD / CC
  • BoD set up a study committee (3-4 members) for review and recommendations.
  • Adopt changes based on the analysis of the study committee

Report from SAOC (a handout was distributed)

SAOC reviewed the possibility of investing part of Sanskriti assets to generate returns.
Of the total assets ($284,794.62), $50K is always reserved as seed money for Sanskriti operations.

Funds are of two types – Reserve Fund and Operating Fund. $50K loaned to Operating Fund, but always needs to be replenished, if account is low. At
the beginning of 2014, BoD gave back to SAOC a surplus of $7000 (leaving the Operating Fund at $50K).

Of the remaining liquid assets $234K (= $284K – $50K), SAOC decided to invest $70K conservatively, after consulting with local banks. The details of the investment are as follows: asset protected; 1% guaranteed return + S&P annual return (capped at 5%) = total prospect 6%

Vote of Thanks
Buddha Dev Paul offered a vote of thanks and opened the meeting for general discussions.

Open Discussions
Feasibility of hosting Banga Sanmelan / North America Bengali Conference (NABC)
Earlier in 2015, Sanskriti BoD had set up a feasibility analysis to determine if Sanskriti DC was interested and capable of hosting a future NABC. The study revealed that it was feasible. The Cultural Association of Bengal (CAB), NYC informed that NABC 2018 may become open for bidding. Sanskriti members voted ‘yes’ to this proposal but are waiting for further response from CAB. Sanskriti BoD will work with CAB to plan the event.

In response to questions why BoD 2015 did not organize Baishakhi, KC explained that Sanskriti did not organize the event because a number of community events were in the works around the general time-line of Baishakhi (April-May). BoD found it difficult to schedule Baishakhi and decided to organize an alternate program later, which was called the “Summer Festival”.

However, several attendees emphasized the expectation of the community to continue Baishakhi, as a Sanskriti tradition.

Community was informed that 2016 Basanta Utsav event is planned and will be held on May 7, 2016 at the Eleanor Roosevelt High School at Greenbelt, MD.

Question was also raised as to how to raise more funds, which often seems to be a difficult task. Some suggested that community groups competing to perform on stage may be charged a fee.

Lastly, everyone agreed that there was need to get new Bengalis interested in volunteering for Sanskriti. These are immigrant (first generation) Bengalis who
are young and take part in cultural events but do not participate in other activities. Several attendees agreed that volunteering to take part in other responsibilities might be used as a criterion for obtaining opportunity to perform cultural programs.

On the issue of involving 2nd generation Bengali-Americans, most people agreed that this was a greater challenge often due to the fact that the young generation have many other activities and distractions and often do not relate to their parents’ activities. This was considered a lesser priority, for now.

Notes:

  • 2015 Income Statement / Balance Sheet Summary is available on request
  • Meeting minutes are compiled on behalf of Sanskriti Community Council 2015. CC Chairman, Buddha Dev Paul, has approved its distribution.
Sincerely,
Sanskriti BoD 2015