PRESIDENT’S REPORT 2019
by Albena Jones, IWC President 2017-2020
2019 will remain in the history of the IWC with its 30th Anniversary celebrations and it’s most remarkable achievements. In my report last year I predicted that our organisation has the potential to become the best in Bulgaria; however I was wrong we became number one in the world. Statistic results showed that based on the funds generated during our 2018 annual charity bazaar, the IWC is the leader among all female clubs worldwide, raising the most money for charity in one single day nearly (200,000 EUR). This is such a significant achievement that we should all be extremely proud of.
- New Implementation:
The year started on a very positive note with the usual “Thank you cocktail” for our sponsors, donors and stall holders, we were delighted by the joint achievement to raise such substantial funds for the Bulgarian charities. As recognition and our way to express gratitude towards the givers with the biggest hearts the IWC announced and presented its Annual Contribution Awards during the thank you cocktail. The Annual Awards were given out in two categories – the first one to the top 3 stalls for raising the most money on bazaar day and the second one to the top 3 sponsors for gifting the highest amount of financial donation. My new implementation was welcomed and delighted all.
As new implementations by/for the members we had 2 new conversation groups – Russian conversation group and Bulgarian conversation group. Both were led senior club members, volunteering their time to share their knowledge.
The most significant new implementation was the IWC becoming a member of the BDFL and being nominated for Donor of the year award, in the category of Most successful partnership (with our media partner M3 Communications).
- IWC Grants Distribution Programme:
- I am pleased to report that in the last 2 years the IWC has gained a newly found recognition and exposure for the most diverse small grants programme supporting an increasing variety of new charity projects, in 2019 we focused on woman – related issues, included creative development, disability sports and even animal welfare projects. Never the less the IWC rightfully stands in its place in the Bulgarian NGO community for the last 30 years for the continued support to the vital target groups as the elderly, children with onco haematological diseases and Down syndrome.
- The IWC call for proposal in 2019 was the most successful to date, we received more than 70 project applications requesting funding. After a lengthy and careful two – stage evaluation process and the hard work by our IWC Charity Evaluation Committee led by the IWC Charity Chairperson, 30 projects were approved for funding. Here we have another phenomenal top achievement, as that is the highest number of charity projects ever supported by the IWC, which was ideal to mark the organisations 30th
- We continued with my implementation from last year – personal invitation to the approved charities to sign their grant contracts together in our office.
- IWC Board Changes and Implementations:
- At times all organisations are faced with challenges – as we all know in 2018 only 4 IWC Board members were elected (no one applied for the highly demanding position of Bazaar Coordinator). Later on heading towards the 2018 Bazaar (which generates the organization’s funds for 2019) which I am reviewing now, an unexpected board position loss occurred. Not only that we did not have an elected Charity Bazaar coordinator, but we also had the Charity Chairperson leave to the UK for family reasons. As a team of united IWC members working together for a common goal, I was proud and grateful how well we overcame this challenging situation. A very able IWC member stepped up to take on the operational fulfilment of the Bazaar Coordinator role, (not wishing to be part IWC Board) and another member volunteer to become an Interim Charity Chairperson. Though the IWC board was officially down to 3 Board members (not as per IWC constitution), UNITED with the help of all, through the strong presence and voluntary commitment of the two members that filled in for those missing positions TOGETHER we achieved the MOST SUCCESFUL ANNUAL BAZAAR IN THE HISTORY OF THE IWC.
- When the next scheduled 2019 annual Board elections came up, there were no other applications, I re-applied for the position of IWC Club President and for the third consecutive time you re-elected me (up to 4 terms possible). Other existing board members also did so, as there was a good leadership synergy in the Board. The same Treasurer was re-elected, the Interim Charity Chairperson was now officially elected. A new IWC Vice President was elected to replace the previously serving one for 2 consecutive terms. Sadly again no one applied for the Bazaar Coordinator role.
- Yet again I found myself actively promoting the vital missing Board position among the members; at the May 2019 monthly board meeting we had 3 IWC members express interest in the position of Bazaar Coordinator. It was decided to accept all 3 of them, with one being the main coordinator and the other 2 as support. Team work and cooperation was demonstrated again.
- November 2019 the IWC Charity Chairperson sends in an email advising she is resigning, as she is not happy with the Board. The timing was awful just before the Bazaar on 01 December, which she was well aware of. In some weird way the scenario from last year was repeating it’s self, never the less we marched on with the help and dedication of the members in the strong Bazaar team lead by the appointed Bazaar Coordinator.
- In December 2019 after the Bazaar the IWC Vice President, who all along had not been cooperative with the Board and very critical, sarcastic and judgemental with the Bazaar Coordinator and team during the busy bazaar organisation, raised the issue that the IWC Board is down to only 3 members,(which is not as per the IWC constitution). The same constitution allows the president to appoint board members – as a Board had already done that in May; all 4 board members had voted and agreed to appoint the Bazaar Coordinator. Documents were now submitted to the IWC lawyers to include the Bazaar Coordinator as a fourth member of the board. That solution was denied due to a technicality, the May board meeting minutes had not been signed by all board members. This was an oversight by the IWC office manager who takes the minutes during the meetings, types them up, collects signatures and files them. My suggestion of collecting the signatures again was declined by the Vice President. This was totally unfair; the Bazaar coordinator was deeply offended, she had already carried out a huge volume of work for the last 7 months in preparation and execution of the 25th IWC Anniversary Charity Bazaar. The IWC could have continued functioning as we had done the previous year, when we faced and dealt with exactly the same challenge. Besides board elections and AGM 2020 were due in a few months.
The IWC lawyers gave us another resolution – to advertise the vacated position of the Charity Chairperson and to do a re-election just for that position. That solution was also declined by the Vice President, who we now evidently know has a serious personal dislike towards me. Infusing hatred through false, unjustified accusations she convinced some IWC members to sign a petition for EGM and formed an Initiative Committee to forcefully remove me and fast track herself to IWC President.
- IWC Members Emergency Fund
The fund was used on 2 occasions in 2019. Once to assist a members after bereavement and once to assist a member suffering from cancer. Both ladies are senior members of the club, with significant contribution to the IWC over the years.
- IWC Office at subsidized cost
In 2019 the IWC entered into a second year of benefiting from a centrally located office at a token price (contract till July 2020). I continued with my personal voluntary pledge in providing weekly free of charge English language lessons to the TSUM (office building) administration as a condition of the reduced rental contract.
- IWC 30th Anniversary Celebrations
The anniversary celebration was marked with a glamorous blue and white Gala and an evening of entertainment and surprises for members and guests. It was amazing to be joined by a former IWC President and a full table with IWC ladies from the past decades of the club, who flew in from around Europe and as far as the USA to be with us on that special occasion. Unforgettable memories were created, the smiles, performances, prizes, and cherished moments were captured by the Hi-Life photographers and the hundreds of pictures you send to be included in the colourful November 2019 IWC Newsletter edition. Due to popularity, the event was fully booked, sadly many could not attend. The IWC 30th anniversary was a significant milestone event for the organization to which many more contributors should have been invited as our guests, to share our club’s long existence through their generous contributions. Never the less – new potential donors and partners. At the November IWC Board meeting, all board members voted (1 against) to hold a follow up second event, IWC Anniversary cocktail to show appreciation and invite the embassies, sponsors, and donors. Special gratitude to Edoardo Miroglio wine cellar who acknowledged my request and graciously sponsored wines for both our events. Also big thanks to the organizations, embassies and contemporary artist Asen Milchev who all provided extraordinary Gala tombola prizes, raising over 1000lv. for PULSE Foundation’s fight against family violence.
- IWC Bazaar 2019
The 25th Annual Charity Bazaar was successfully executed and expanded despite the numerous attempts of sabotage and constant criticism by a couple of ladies.
We were once aging supported by UniCredit Bulbank in my innovative endeavour to take card payments at the Bazaar. Not only did they provide us with the POS terminals, but they organised a special training session for all the nominate device users. Thousands of leva of additional income was generated through card payments from our Bazaar visitors. As a leader each year I aim to contribute with one major new idea that will boost our main event. In 2019 it was the much needed expansion of the Bazaar which now spread in 3 halls of the IEC.
I enjoyed the ease of cooperation with the Bazaar Coordinator, she effectively distributed tasks, was able to prioritize and resolve issues and supervise the entire event organisation brilliantly. Most of the Bazaar team ladies were super efficient and responsibly took charge of their assigned tasks. Gratitude for their dedication.
I focused on giving individual attention to our participants – the embassies, as they are the back bone of the IWC Bazaar. This year I was delighted to showcase more of the participating countries who joined me on national television prior to the Bazaar. We welcomed a few new comers too and together we once again brought a memorable international festive mood to the capital.
- December 2019 Thank you Coffee morning
The December IWC Coffee Morning after each bazaar is a traditional “Thank you” get together. The morning was attended by over 120 guests – IWC members, stallholders, and Ambassadors. Gratitude to our event sponsor the Metropolitan Hotel, while enjoying a festive breakfast, we reflected on the positive experiences of the bazaar day and the positive feedback of expanding the event. We had the chance to enjoy another big tombola thanks to the continuous generosity from the IWC sponsors. Prizes as hotel and dinner vouchers, cosmetic products, bottles of wine, whiskey and Turkish airline tickets brought us pre-Christmas joy, the tombola ticket sales were contributed towards the bazaar proceeds. Happiness, fulfilment, generosity and gratitude are the words that I would remember from that final 2019 IWC gathering.
Unfortunately that was the last event we were harmonious and united! I wish that the IWC success story could have continued, spreading more goodness all around, but instead it has been paralysed by ill intentions.