Tough year for National Trust

By all accounts, it was a tough year for the National Trust for the Cayman Islands.

The organisation that helps maintain and develop the country’s wildlife, natural areas, and historic sites, as well as educate the public about the importance of the natural environment, suffered a big hit in fundraising due the declining economy.

Also, the Trust saw four of its top executives depart for various reasons during its last fiscal year, which runs from 1 July, 2008 and 30 June, 2009.

‘Shortly after the last annual general meeting the Trust Council was faced with the resignations of the general manager, education programme manager, the marketing and development manager, and the Mission House manager,’ a letter from Trust President Roger Corbin in the organisation’s annual report read.

A new general manager and education coordinator have since been hired.

Unaudited financial statements for the year ending 30 June, 2009 showed that a greater percentage of the Trust’s funding came from the Cayman Islands government and from membership dues than it had the previous year.

Fundraising and donations plummeted. Fundraising activities took in $94,447 in the past year, compared to $227,320 that was raised in 2007/08.

Donated goods and services dropped to about $296,000 last year, compared to $431,000 in 2007/08.

Mr. Corbin said the Trust’s fundraising efforts would be a key focus in the current financial year.

‘It is anticipated that our many life members will be contacted by our fundraising committee to see how ways of providing a revenue stream can be developed,’ he said. ‘There are a number of projects which need to be completed but which are stalled for lack of funds.’

Trust Fundraising Committee chair Janet Walker reported that a large fundraiser held at the Wharf Restaurant fell just two days outside of the fiscal year, and so was not counted in this year’s numbers.

She said several other events are coming up, including a Christmas party at the Mission House to raise funds for the site’s maintenance, a wine auction in January 2010 at Jacques Scott to raise money to restore the Eldemire House on Cayman Brac, as well as another art auction planned for either February or March.

Despite the funding shortages, the report noted the Trust did manage to accomplish several key goals within the last fiscal year.

Among those: the purchase of three additional acres of property at the southern end of the Mastic Trail; the release of 24 Blue Iguanas raised in captivity; the installation of new walkways and solar panels at Mission House; GPS locations for all local bat houses were compiled and listed on a map; the release of 77 other native or migratory animals into the wild by the Cayman Wildlife Rescue project, and the conducting of a two week summer camp in July and August 2008.