Dear Alterna Readers,
Chief Executive Officer. Its not a title to be taken on lightly. As CEO of Room to Read I take my job very seriously. CEO is a title that is almost always found exclusively in the business and commercial realm, but rarely in the non-profit world. And yet, at Room to Read, we are often adopting best business practices. In some ways, Room to Read is a hybrid….we are a non profit organization, but we pride ourselves on running the operations as we would if we were a Fortune 500 company. Many of our staff members come from business backgrounds and are familiar with the rigid controls that can be found at a respected corporation. Of course, you know that before I founded Room to Read I was an executive at Microsoft….I admit that I have borrowed some good management ideas from there as well!
Staff members, both paid and volunteer, work for the common goals of low overhead, and concrete and measurable results, just as a business. Of course in our case, the end results are benefiting a different kind of consumer; children all over the world, who through our Room to Read programs are receiving the life long gift of education. Meanwhile, our shareholders are not the traditional shareholders of a corporation who receive monetary dividends. Rather our shareholders are the generous supporters, who have donated to Room to Read over the years, and in return they have the satisfaction of helping to make the world a better place. Many of our supporters are multi-year donors, both individuals and corporations…. others are donors who have only given one or a few times. Regardless of how much or how often they donate, we see each donor, large or small, as part of our shareholder family.
Over the last weeks the head office in San Francisco has been busy preparing the Annual Report of 2007, which is sent to all shareholders. Along with the annual report, a cover letter that I have signed, gives an update of the year, and outlines our goals for the coming year. We send a hard copy to our current and recent high level donors. An email version is sent to past donors, or supporters of lower denominated donations.
We are very proud of our results (we celebrated the opening our 5000th library this year) and we want our shareholders to feel like they really are part of the process and the solution! Of course, it is our hope that the shareholders will be satisfied with our results and will continue to donate – we are not shy about asking for their continued support. Fortunately our shareholders continue to lay their trust in us, and for that we are very grateful. I think I can speak for the children who are beneficiaries of these scholarships and literacy programs and express gratitude on their behalf as well.
John Wood (Room to Read CEO)
If you are curious about our 2008 Annual Report, I invite you to take a look at it. Its available on-line at: http://www.roomtoread.org/about/financials/2007_Annual_Report.pdf