To be honest, they had me at Hello!
In conversation with a co-worker, then a Home County Folk League (HCFL, a registered charity) Board member, I was encouraged to attend a Board meeting to find out more. This all volunteer Board was welcoming, friendly and completely focused on their mission: to present London’s best (and longest running) outdoor summer music Festival, year after year. This July will be our 46th annual Home County Music & Art Festival, in beautiful downtown Victoria Park!
Home County is designated as an Admission By Donation (ABD) event where we ask those who attend the Festival to make a donation toward the significant costs of running a major event like this. A new idea, the public has been stepping up to our ‘ask’, giving a donation and proudly wearing our ABD sticker, during the Festival. Home County engages another local charity as our ABD Donation Collectors, during the Festival and Home County proudly provides a donation to their charity as ‘payment’ for their services. A wonderful win-win situation for both teams and an excellent example of the type of community thinking that pervades our Board!
Where Home County really shines is in their ability to attract and harness the combined efforts of a large team of Volunteers, each year. These are just regular folks: high school kids, seniors and everyone else in between. They are the real heroes that make this Festival “appear out of nowhere”, be “knock your socks off great” and then “cleanly disappear again”, every single year! Home County is “in love” with its Volunteer team and we think the feeling is mutual. Five days of work, three days of fun, one place to be … every July!
Home County must raise the needed funds for each year’s Festival through Grants, corporate/institutional Donations, vendor Fees, fund-raising Concerts throughout the year, membership Fees and Donations from our attendees during our events. Most years we have met our bills and a little more, others years have required exceptional measures and some creativity just to restart for another year. The revenue picture is changing for charities, as the economy contracts; today’s revenue sources tend to be the same slice from an ever shrinking pie. Our Board had considered relocating the Festival, to more predictably fund ourselves through a Gated receipt but, fortunately, we determined that idea to be inconsistent with our League objectives; Home County wants to be in Victoria Park which means always open to all.
From a personal perspective, I have served on the Board for nine years and according to League bylaws, I must surrender my Board seat so that different voices can contribute new ideas to the on-going development of this great Festival. Stepping down from the Board will not affect the efforts I can still contribute to this amazing Festival, for a few years yet.
Home County is a wonderfully hard habit to break!
Learn more about Home County Folk League. Better yet … come volunteer with Home County, this July!