Timothy O'Brien

Article by Executive Director, Timothy O'Brien.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

2007 was a year of change for the Northwest Dharma Association. There were endings and beginnings, some of which are continuing into 2008.

The early months of 2007 saw the Board of Directors elected through a new process that provided for expanded member participation. Previously, those members attending the Annual Meeting had elected the Board. This year, ballots were sent and everyone had a chance to vote online.

Soon after taking office, the Board continued the strategic planning process begun in 2006. This resulted in the decision to develop an improved website and transform the Northwest Dharma News to an electronic publication. These are two of our most important functions. The News has been a source of information for the regional Buddhist community for many years. The website is the way many people first find their way to practice groups and teachings.

Moving the News to an electronic format was a difficult decision. We are aware of how important the print format has been for people over the years. The print version, however, has been very expensive to produce, both in terms of costs and energy. With the electronic version, we are able to minimize the environmental and personnel costs of printing while being able to produce a publication of higher aesthetic value.

Upgrading the website and moving the News to an electronic format were major tasks that are still in process. The new site is up and running and this is the third issue of the electronic version of the News. We are still in the development phase; working out bugs, getting things more refined, but the initial push is over.

In the coming months, we will be adding more features: a Buddhist service/product directory for local professional services and businesses (a yellow pages for Buddhists) as well as a Teachers Forum to allow teachers throughout the region to communicate with one another about issues of particular concern to them.

The 2007 financial statements reflect these activities. As usual, our activities are primarily funded through the generosity of the regional Buddhist community. More than half of our funds are provided by gifts, by dana. Without your generosity, there would be no Northwest Dharma Association.

As you can see from the accompanying graphs, we spent about 1/4 quarter of the funds received on developing our new website and electronic version of the News. This is an investment that we feel will pay for itself in the long run.

We hope you will be able to join us at the Annual Meeting on February 16 to learn more about how the Board and Staff see the development of the Northwest Dharma Association in 2008.