<p><b><span class="color-class-body">OBI Chair & Treasurer's Reports</span></b></p><p> </p><p><b><span class="color-class-body" style="font-size:0.7em;">**photo: Outward Bound Vietnam</span></b></p>
OBI was created to oversee i) licensing of new Outward Bound Schools, ii) risk management and program quality standards for all Outward Bound Schools across the network, iii) brand management, and iv) the promotion of communications and networking amongst OBI members.
OUR MANDATE STATES THAT OBI EXISTS:
To promote and protect the good name of Outward Bound throughout the world, and to assist in the establishment, development, and support of Outward Bound Centers able to provide safe, high-quality programs that fulfill the mission of Outward Bound.
2022 has been an exceptional year for OBI and for our members around the network – a year that was again impacted by the global Covid-19 pandemic but happily to a much lesser degree!
In 2021, we took the decision to cancel the World Conference that had been scheduled to take place in Brazil. Instead, we decided to host a Virtual World Conference, online and using our 365 platform. The Conference was held over three days and in two different time zones. It was a complicated event to organise, but the effort was worthwhile – we had over 350 attendees from around the Global network on line and engaging with the sessions. Highlights from the Conference included a focus on our environment and the creation of our Nature Bound initiative (funded by Manulife), presentations demonstrating OB’s continuing impact and relevance and the beginnings of a project that will assist Schools with their staffing. All in all a most successful event!
In 2022, we held our AGM by Teams call (during the virtual World Conference) but I’m delighted to report that the Board and Ops Com were finally able to meet in person in October at OB Singapore.
You will know that a key priority in our Strategic Plans is collaboration, and through our investment in Microsoft 365, SharePoint and TEAMS, we have continued to bring Schools together on a regular basis to exchange ideas, share our experiences and to build a stronger Outward Bound network.
As I write this, we are now mid-way through our 2022-2024 Strategic plan and arrangements are far advanced for our World Conference hosted by OB Brazil – it will be great to finally get there! The Conference will be an opportunity to review our progress against the plan objectives and to begin to plan “next steps”. We have achieved a lot in 2022: we have the Resource Centre up and running, the Nature Bound material is available and we have produced an excellent Risk Management Guidance document. Social media is more connected and effective than ever and our fundraising remains strong. We have an effective tool for collecting feedback and data from participants (The Outward Bound Outcomes Survey) and we are just embarking on a major research project, funded by the Templeton Foundation, with partners from Penn State University.
Risk Management Reviews are now back on track and it is so good to hear of the good work that is going on across the network. I would like to thank Ops. Com. and the reviewer team for the their time, commitment and expertise.
We established “Global Ambassadors” in 2020 and this year saw further growth in membership . Outward Bound Global Ambassadors are a distinguished and dedicated group of Outward Bound champions who have been involved in a significant way with Outward Bound either regionally or globally, and would like to continue to support and inspire the global Outward Bound movement. You can find out more on our website and in the Treasurer’s Report below.
This has been a much better year for Outward Bound both operationally and financially. Schools have bounced back from the Covid pandemic and are once again serving their communities. Things are by no means “back to normal” but they are definitely improving!
Special thanks to Iain Peter, our Executive Director, and to our consultants Sarah Wiley, Faye Cowley, Sara Morrison, Mike Armstrong and Stephen Sacks and to all of the other folks behind the scenes who support OBI.
Thanks to our Board and Chairs and members of the sub-committees responsible for: Operations (Nicholas Conceicao), Risk Management (Deirdre Lander), Finance (Colin Maund), Nominations & Governance (John Atkin) and the Environmental Working Group (Grant Faber).
This will be my last report as Chair of OBI; I complete my term in October 2023 and will hand over to Colin Maund. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as Chair. I remain tremendously impressed by the commitment and endeavour that our member Schools exhibit and I am convinced that Outward Bound is more relevant now than ever.
2022 has been a much better year for Outward Bound Schools around the world. Members are once again delivering programs, staff teams are getting back to normal and recovery from the Covid pandemic is well under way.
Each Outward Bound School is financially independent and has responsibility for its own financial performance, so the accounts presented here are solely for Outward Bound International (OBI). OBI acts as a coordinator for the Schools and awards and maintains licenses as the agent of Outward Bound Global, the ultimate trademark owner of the Outward Bound name and process.
In 2022 we saw OBI funding from Schools stabilise and approach pre-pandemic levels. Most Schools were able to meet their fee obligations in 2002 as they returned to more normal operation. However, fee income remains below budget expectations as Schools have not yet fully returned to 2019 levels of activity.
The OBI financial position continues to be supported this year by the fundraising efforts of our consultant Sarah Wiley and by our Global Ambassadors. Their financial contribution has enabled us to continue to deliver against our Strategic Plan objectives and I would like to formally thank them for their support. We have also received support this year from Manulife and the Sweetgrass Foundation to develop resources around our Nature Bound initiative and from the John Templeton Foundation to build on our global research agenda.
At the start of the Covid pandemic, the Board made provision to continue OBI’s activities by using our reserves. I am happy to report that, in the end, this was not necessary. We continued to deliver on our obligations to Outward Bound Global (licensing and Reviews) and in the provision of support to Schools. The net result of increased activity with a small reduction in fee income is that the overall position is broadly stable. Operations generated a modest surplus of $10K and our reserves have been broadly maintained. Total assets are up slightly. Cash balances remain healthy and OBI continues to able to fulfil its role and pursue its strategic initiatives for the long term benefit of the network. We are confident that the ongoing Strategic Plan work will continue to be of significant benefit to the network.
The core elements of OBI’s service to the network remain broadly in line with cost expectations with the exception of travel, which has increased over the period. This is partly because we are doing more of it (Reviews have resumed) and it costs more!
I would also like to thank the members of the Fundraising and Finance Committees together with our book keeper Stephen Sacks for all of their help and support this year.
This has been another challenging year for the whole Outward Bound network. I am particularly grateful for the support of our Chair, David Kong, the members of the Finance Committee and particularly the support staff of OBI: Iain Peter, Sarah Wiley, Faye Cowley, Mike Armstrong, Sara Morrison, and Richard Nelson. Without the hard work, dedication and ingenuity of our staff the position of OBI would be far more fragile.
We will have to remain cautious in the short term but the excellent work put in place to take forward our strategic initiatives means that we will be better placed than ever to provide a service to our member organisations and to build a strong Outward Bound network.