This blog post was written by Robert Lockhart, Past-President, Kerrisdale Community Centre Society.
Community centres are not-for-profit organizations. This means that if there are revenues from any initiatives, they are invested back into the centre. Not-for-profits are run as businesses, the difference being that community centres don’t pay out profits to shareholders, bonuses to CEOs, etc., but put them back into the community. (It is important to note that the Community Centre Association Board is a volunteer board and many community members volunteer a great number of hours at the centre each week.)
In operating a business, including a community centre, there are costs that are commonly known as overhead. This means that, for example, in a program – the instructor is paid and then there are program expenses that must be covered (i.e. supplies, materials, replacement, equipment). Some of these costs might be factored into the program cost, but generally they are absorbed by the association. A good example of this is the cost of the maintenance and replacement of fitness room equipment.
No matter what the program, event or initiative – there are operational costs that must be covered. Each association has employees (administrative assistant, accountant, etc.) that must be paid. The association also pays (indirectly based on invoicing from the Park Board) the cost of front desk staff and building supervisors (Park Board employees, called Group 1). At Kerrisdale Community Centre, this cost ranges upwards of half a million dollars each year. Other business expenses such as Director’s insurance, maintenance on seniors’ buses, annual auditing of financial records, and office supplies must also be paid.
It is also quite important to know that all Community Centre Associations subsidize some programs. There is a cost to this, whether for a free program or a subsidized program such as the Seniors’ Lunch at Kerrisdale. In addition, building supervisors are required to be paid when they prepare rooms or other spaces, whether they are for paid programs or not.
Across the city, there are Community Centre Associations that are – and have been for upwards of 70 years – delivering social, recreational and artistic opportunities that meet the community needs of the citizens of Vancouver. Every dollar raised by Community Centre Associations goes back into operations or capital costs.
Over this extended period, some Community Centre Associations have often contributed dollars set aside to supplement facility renewals and upgrades. There is no “profit” in the work done by Community Centre Associations. Not only is there no profit, but Community Centre Associations also contribute additional funds through grants, gifts and fundraising to which community centres would otherwise not have access.
A community centre offers a great deal to its neighbourhood – and this is possible because of the hard work and dedication of many people, from the CCA Board to the volunteers at the centre – all because there is a commitment to continue to invest in the people of our communities!