Chairwoman’s Report 2015
Published on: May 03, 2016
The BAMBI team reflects back on actions and accomplishments of the past year (2015) and shares some plans for 2016 in its annual review.
By Ravit El-Bachar Daniel
Each year I and my team take a look back to the previous calendar year, reflecting on things that kept us busy serving you, dear BAMBI members. This was another busy year for BAMBI, offering our members a variety of services and activities: Bumps&Babies sessions, playgroups, BAMBI News monthly magazine, events, new members coffee mornings, support groups, baby equipment rental service, library, website, Facebook page, E-newsletter, WOMBLES – Dinners for working mums, member-card benefits, charities, and special activities in Pattaya area.
I would like to thank the committee, coordinators, assistants, playgroup leaders and other helpers who made all this happen by devoting their time and skills to BAMBI. We definitely have great people in our community.
The following report includes a summary of BAMBI actions and accomplishments of the past year and, in addition, some plans for 2016.
Due to the financial fraud we suffered from, we started the year with almost no money in the BAMBI bank account (THB 1,376) plus THB 18,682 in cash.
We are proud to be able to say that the financial crisis did not negatively affect our regular activities, events and services we provided to our members during 2015. Our volunteers kept the organization running without damage.
Our net income this year was THB 1.54M, and we finished the year with THB 1.376M in the bank. This strengthened our faith in BAMBI as a healthy organization that can maintain a sufficient income to cover its expenses and manages to run activities with minimum costs while producing high-quality services and contributing to the community through charity projects. This could only happen because of the hard work of our creative, resourceful and committed volunteers.
In the past year, in order to minimize the chance of fraud in the future, the finance team took concrete measures to strengthen the management of our finances:
- We expanded the number of authorized signatories from three to four for our bank accounts. Authorization of any bank transaction requires the signatures of any two of these four signatories. Also, these signatories are able to view our bank account statements online.
- We created a clear distinction between the roles of Treasurer and Treasurer Assistant so that these roles complement each other and also serve as a check-balance on each other.
- At the close of 2015, we found a professional third-party accounting company. We will use their services for the annual auditing of our accounts and also as professional, independent help for making our finance management processes more secure.
Bumps & Babies (and BAMBI Library)
Bumps & Babies has always been at the core of BAMBI activities. 2015 started rather slow for Bumps & Babies but after taking steps to improve it, our team started to see the fruit of their labor towards the end of 2015.
- In the last quarter of 2015 Bumps and Babies moved to its new location at Antique Café on Sukhumvit Soi 31 which was more comfortable and convenient for our members.
- Thanks to the addition of a UK trained midwife, Emma McNerlin, who joined doula Fran Safaie to help coordinate the group, we were able to increase the number of sessions per month.
- The new location and combined expertise of the Bumps and Babies team resulted in participant numbers growing steadily over the last quarter of the year. From an average of 11 participants per month, we reached an average of 26 participants per month.
- Bumps and Babies made several purchases this year to improve our service:
- A new bookcase to display the BAMBI library
- Models for childbirth education
- Three new TENS devices for rental – offering our members an effective method of non-pharmacological pain relief for labor. These have already proven a popular new addition
- Other special activities:
- After a successful education session for expectant fathers on Bringing up Baby event, the Bumps team developed a series of well-attended Saturday childbirth education sessions for couples. This allowed working mums and dads, who usually can’t attend our morning-weekly sessions, to enjoy our program.
- Following feedback from our members about their pregnancy and birth experiences, the Bumps team have had several meetings and communications with Samitivej hospital in the hopes of improving the quality of maternity care offered there. This is still ongoing.
2015 was a good year for our Playgroups department. During 2015 we held about 286 playgroups sessions around Bangkok & Pattaya and had over 4800 attendances.
Our income from Bangkok playgroups grew tremendously in 2015 and more than tripled from 2014. This is thanks to the growing popularity of some of our playgroups along the Sukhumvit area, special sessions we held, and the opening of new playgroups.
We opened four new playgroups:
- Suk 31 PG at First Steps International School
- Sawatdi PG at IPC pre-school
- “By the riverside” PG at Shrewsbury School
- Bang Na PG at Berkeley International school
Unfortunately, due to reasons unrelated to us – we had to close two of our popular playgroups: Thonglor and Ekamai.
Special sessions were offered several times this year to increase the satisfaction of our members and provide new content. These included a session with Lalala Music team, a special PG In the Pool with Bangkok Dolphins swimming school, and special sensory sessions at the British Club playgroup. These were very well attended.
A budget of about THB 15,000 was invested in new toys for our playgroups.
We continued with the Leaders Breakfast Meetings for our playgroup leaders and co-leaders. It was held three times this year, enabling the team to meet in a cozy atmosphere, exchange ideas, and discuss common issues, in order to improve the playgroups’ work.
Events in Bangkok
We held four sales events, two family fun events, and participated in four more external events:
- Splash party & Halloween party were active and busy. Both events were well attended with 204 attendees on Splash Party that reflects an increase of 30% from previous year, and 568 attendees on Halloween that reflects an increase of 38% from previous year.
- We held three Yard Sales which had on average 25 vendors each, 350 shoppers and a great sharing atmosphere where a lot of pre-loved items found new homes.
- In June we were introduced to a new venue – St. Andrews International School on Sukhumvit 71, which became a kind of ‘home’ to our following sales and also for 2016 sales. The new venue gained praise from vendors, shoppers and BAMBI volunteers who find it a convenient location, accommodating and sufficiently air-conditioned.
- After analyzing the potential reasons for low numbers of attendees at 2014’s Holiday Party and Annual Bazaar, we decided to change the format for both events in 2015:
- For the first time we held BAMBI Annual Bazaar in a hotel (Marriott Thonglor) on a weekday instead of a school campus on weekend as it used to be in previous years. The change of day in the week and venue increased the number of vendors and satisfaction: altogether around 50 vendors came to sell their products and many happy shoppers found their Christmas gifts.
- We’ve decided to move our annual Bangkok Holiday/Christmas party usually held in December to January 2016 – themed as New Year Party.
- We are thankful to our sponsors in 2015 who supported our events with a total of THB 140,000: Platinum Sponsor, Samitivej Hospital; Silver Sponsor, Bumrungrad Hospital; and Bronze Sponsor, Santa Fe.
- BAMBI was present at four external events around Bangkok, including: Bringing Up Baby event, Living in Bangkok Fair, Bumrungrad Christmas Fair, and Charity Pink Zumba event to Support the Bangkok Breast Cancer Support Group.
Events in Pattaya
Our BAMBI Pattaya team held three special events in 2015 – all were well appreciated by our Pattaya members:
- First Aid workshop at Bangkok Pattaya Hospital
- Fun Fair – with kids’ activities, show, games, yard sale, local vendors, and charity projects crafts
- Annual Christmas party
New Members’ Coffee Mornings
We held a monthly Coffee Morning for new members where they could get more information about what BAMBI has to offer. This year we decided to invite guest speakers for a talk / workshop every four months; these included a Baby massage therapist, a kids’ yoga teacher etc. As a result, we were able to bring more new members to these meetings, as well as more interested people who joined as members on the spot.
We moved to a new location at IPC kindergarten which has proved to be a more attractive place for our new members. This brought more families with toddlers to the meetings as the venue offers a nice playground for kids to play before and after the meeting.
Support groups department in BAMBI has been acting as a link between expat parents, experts and hospitals who can provide support for a wide range of mental and physical issues parents may face.
- We’ve added a link to a new Support group “Achieving Balance” aimed to help expat women to achieve professional development while living in a foreign country.
- BAMBI Bangkok Adoption Support changed format from face-to-face meetings to active discussions via the support group’s Facebook group. This change was done due to a lack of demand in coffee-meetings and preference of our audience to ‘meet’ on an online forum.
- We’ve made it possible for Support Groups to highlight their activities and topics trough articles in BAMBI News magazine.
BAMBI utilizes several media channels to spread our news and announcements and to update our members about activities: Website, BAMBI News magazine, Facebook page & E-newsletter. They all worked very well in 2015.
Besides our own news and announcements, thanks to the growing editorial team BAMBI News magazine kept providing more interesting and entertaining content on parenthood, child development, entertaining children in the city, travel tips and more. It seems our members really appreciate the magazine.
Our Facebook page popularity kept growing this year. We have reached around 4200 “likes’ (while last year we had 2700 “likes”). It is now definitely the main media channel we use on a day to day basis to promote our activities, update our members with news, and communicate with the members, while the website is used mostly for general information.
We’ve decided to discontinue the commercial advertising by companies and schools on our website and keep it ad-free, allowing only our members the free classifieds service.
Our Media Coordinator worked hard this year to spread the word about BAMBI’s various activities and events also via non-BAMBI channels, such as other Facebook pages directed to families in Bangkok (e.g. BKK Kids, Bangkok Baby Wearing Club, etc.).
In 2015 BAMBI donated about 5% of its net income to charity. In total THB 80,000 was donated towards: Bangkok Breast Cancer Support Group and Hand in Hand. Charities money was raised through our yard sales entrance fees, yard sales charity table, rental service fees, paid website classifieds, small activities at events and through our Pattaya group activity.
Our Charities department kept surplus of funds raised this year to be carried on to 2016 for new projects in the pipeline.
We would like to express our special thanks to Schenker Ltd. who continued to support our Charities department with storage and pickup service.
Our group in Pattaya kept on doing a good job with their playgroups at Holiday Inn and Ladybird School as well as with arranging several successful events. All activities raised a total net income of THB 71,000 which was donated almost in full to Hand in Hand.
Membership and Database
- BAMBI had an average of 807 active members along 2015. We ended the year with 828 registered members.
- As in previous years, we see a consistent status of 70% of memberships being new members and 30% renewals of memberships.
- This year new members mainly joined in our playgroups (49%) and via online/bank transfer (34%)
- Renewal membership was mainly done via online/bank transfer (62%) and in our playgroups (25%)
- September was the month with the highest number of new members joining and renewals (105). This is probably due to the fact that many new families arrive in Thailand during the summer and September is when they have started to settle down.
- This year our Database Coordinator worked with other teams to simplify and summarize the instructions on “How to Become a member” in our media. They also improved data collection and created a “welcome email” with instructions to all new members/renewals.
Plans for 2016
Bumps & Babies
- Conduct a survey among women to learn about their experiences giving birth in Bangkok, in order to suggest improvements to the hospitals which serve the expat community in Bangkok.
Playgroups & New Members Mornings
- We recognize a remarkable growth in the number of Japanese members in our playgroups around the Sukhumvit area as well as in the new members mornings we hold, and a simultaneous decrease of non-Japanese members in those activities. We plan to work more on promoting the playgroups and new members mornings among a mixed-nationality audience to keep the multicultural nature of BAMBI on these activities.
- Cooperation with after-school activity programs to offer our members’ older kids aged 2-6 yrs structured content such as soccer, English, gymnastics, art & crafts, music etc.
- Our Playgroup Coordinator is working on opening a “Leaders Academy” for current leaders and potential leaders to improve and train their leader skills and add value to their volunteering experience.
- We hope to reopen our popular Thonglor Playgroup in a new attractive venue.
- We will reduce entrance donation fee to the British Club playgroup for 25%.
- Splash party 2016: allow free entrance to all BAMBI members to show our appreciation for their support in 2015
- Holiday party: take decision whether to keep it as New Year (2017) theme party or go back to the format of Christmas party.
- Keep presenting BAMBI on external events (confirmed events participation in 2016: Zumbathon, Bringing up Baby, Living in Bangkok).
- We’ve decided to discontinue in 2016 the yearly program offered to big Sponsors. Instead, we will allow them sponsorship on event-by-event basis. This is to avoid linking BAMBI on an annual basis to big organizations that may not always work in line with BAMBI core values.
Our new members’ team is working on updating the New Members Packet to be sent to all new members who’ll join BAMBI, filled with information about BAMBI, about parenting in Bangkok, entertaining kids in Bangkok and its surrounds and lots of other tips.
- We are adding new support groups: Parenting Support Group and New Moon Postnatal Support Group (both already started), and we’ll help new support groups to start if there is demand.
- This year we aim to continue promoting more support group leaders through articles in the BAMBI News magazine to give our readers more information about certain issues they may face, as well as start a regular column called ”Ask The Parent Coach’’.
- WOMBLES (working mums dinners) will pamper the participants with a free drink on BAMBI’s behalf.
- Our website needs refreshing and our plan this year is to invest resources in order to launch a new website during early 2017.
- Our Media Coordinator would like to investigate the option of expanding the social media tools of BAMBI to Twitter and Instagram to promote our activities more widely.
- We are working again on our educational Breastfeeding & Natural Birth booklet charity project that we started in 2013 and which was frozen for awhile. We plan to publish it in July/August 2016 to distribute mainly in rural areas in Thailand.
- We are planning a project to support Watchaisrisa-Ard Learning Center in Isaan.
The current goal is to improve a few items in our database program to allow us to collect the postal addresses of members in a more efficient way (and decrease complaints) and create an automated “welcome email” to new members.
- We have decided to close the playgroup in Ladybird school in 2016 because the venue was not suitable for crawling babies and this resulted in low attendance.
- We have now started cooperation with a new venue in the hope to open a new BAMBI playgroup with structured activities, such as singing & movement and reading time.
- We will repeat the successful events this year: Family Fun Fair, First Aid Workshop, and Christmas Party.
Thank you BAMBI Members for supporting BAMBI every year with your membership, feedback, and participation in our activities.
A special thank you to Mrs. Mel Habanananda, BAMBI Patron and founder, the mother of BAMBI – who keeps supporting and inspiring us.
As I will be stepping down from the Chairwoman position today, I would like to extend my thanks again to all our volunteers of the past and present who have worked with me. I couldn’t have done it without you. It was a pleasure working with each one of you!
We welcome any questions you may have on the above information. Please write to us.
The views expressed in the articles in this magazine are not necessarily those of BAMBI committee members and we assume no responsibility for them or their effects.
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