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May 1 2008
Business Plan of Jikoji

Section 1 Introduction and Organization

This incomplete document describes Jikoji's business plan, pending the financial results for the fiscal year ending April 30 2008 and the results of the May 18 annual board meeting. Section 2 below describes our strategy and objectives, focussing on a fund raising drive to support Jikoji's future development. Section 3 directly projects Jikoji's recent history, and considers the effects of several anticipated changes in growth rates of activities and rentals. Section 4 describes and analyzes various major contingencies and risks, and their financial implications in terms of the basic projections of Section 3.

Background Information

Jikoji is a Soto Zen temple and retreat center located approximately one hour south of San Francisco, California, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We offer workshops and sesshins, and provide facilities for individual and group retreats. All are welcome.

Links: Our web site, Jikoji, provides most background information for this business plan. We encourage the reader to browse through Jikoji's links to our Vision Statement, Facilities, News, Schedules, People, and Activities. The web site also provides a variety of related information, such as phone contact numbers and a map with directions to Jikoji.

Sources: To the extent possible, this document does not provide new information. Instead it directly documents Jikoji's status and projected activities, with emphasis on its finances. Consequently much of the material below is actually drawn from other sources within Jikoji. Such information is frequently identified within quotes, and the original source is documented and in most cases linked directly with the quote.

Online Web Document: This document is maintained as an online public web document to facilitate its continuing development and maintance, and to provide easy access with web links to the wealth of related reference material, as described above.

Version: The latest official business plan is posted on Jikoji's web site, as this document. Draft versions are separately developed and maintained. This particular version is dated May 23 2008.

Section 2 Strategic Objectives

 

This business plan documents Jikoji's financial considerations supporting Jikoji's Purposes that are, as quoted from Jikoji's Bylaws

Under the direction of Jikoji's Board of Directors, and with the new Resident Teacher Michael Newhall, Jikoji has taken as its strategic objective to progressively strengthen its teaching, meditation, and related programs. As stated in the Third Amended Bylaws of Jikoji (ratified March 5 2006), the Resident Teacher (currently Michael Newhall) will increasingly assume on-hand direction for all aspects of Jikoji, with the Board providing overview and oversight. As described further in Section 4 and its linked documents, a set of standing committees will plan, direct, and carry out supporting functions, and caretakers will continue to staff most of Jikoji's operations, as well as to serve on and/or direct various committees.

To support these objectives, the Board and Michael, with the concurrence of all concerned, is undertaking a major fundraising, that was describes as follows in Jikoji's November 2005 newsletter:

This Facilities Upgrade consequently is a major focus for this business plan, and is reflected in the financial projections and tables of Section 3 and in the Contingencies and Risks discussed in Section 4.

 

Section 3 Current and Projected Financial Trends for Jikoji

Table 1 includes Revenue, Expenses, and Changes in Net Assets, as reported on Jikoji's recent U.S. tax returns. (Jikoji's fiscal year extends form May 1 through April 30). Kobun's death in 2002 resulted in both unusual revenues and expenses for that and the following year.

 

 

U.S. IRS May 07- May 06- May 05- May 04- May 03- May 02-
Tax Reports -Apr 08 -Apr 07 -Apr 06 -Apr 05 -Apr 04 -Apr 03
Total
Revenue   $156,237 $72,443 $32,287 $43,748 $54,781
Expenses   $157,859 62,806 $36,895 $56,930 $72,978
Net Assets   $103,268 $104,782 $96,475 $100,514 $113,696

 

 Table 1:  Tax Returns for Jikoji's Recent Fiscal Years

Rather than include the latest fiscal year results and current budget in this business plan, we link to them in the following:


Jikoji's most recent Prior Fiscal Year Summary, and Budget

This FY Summary & Budget includes the current fiscal year results May 2007 - April 2008, including in the first few columns the actual category codes and titles (with some abbreviations) from Jikoji's accounting records, that are currently maintained in the Quickbooks Pro accounting software package. (The table's poor but still readable appearance is due to the multiple applications involved in formatting the report for the web).

The fiscal year totals for 2007-2008 are shown in what appears as the rightmost column. The Budget for the next year, when it becomes available this summer, will show the projected expenditures for each month. The final column is the sum of the monthly columns, and serves primarily as a check that should equal the third column's projected budget.

Section 4 Major Contingencies and Risks

Income Variations, from Contributions and Rentals

Jikoji's income from both contributions and program services varies significantly, depending on a variety of factors. Recent trends have been toward increased rental receipts from groups that use Jikoji's facilities for their retreats due to the major improvements, and added facilities, that have the potential to increase such incomes dramatically. Jikoji however is instead focussing on the practice and teaching of Zen. so that increasing revenues and profits are not primary objectives. Nevertheless, revenue is clearly increasing progressively, and there is very little risk that Jikoji's income will significantly decrease soon.

There is however a significant risk that Jikoji's income could diminish due to outside influences, or due to a loss of focus in its teaching and program services functions. The risks due to competition are from alternative retreat rental facilities that have better facilities than Jikoji. The Rentals director at Jikoji recently surveyed several competitive centers, and found that Jikoji's prices, while generally lower, were not substantially lower, and Jikoji's current facilities generally did suffer by comparison. The Upgrade's improvements should greatly dimish these competitive influences.

Another risk factor is that, since many of Jikoji's renters are groups that are allied with Jikoji in their fundamental objectives and in their heritage, a major change in Jikoji's focus on its objectives might also adversely impact its relationships with ongoing renters. However the focus itself has been clearly defined in Jikoji's amended bylaws, so that any risk of adverse changes appears minor.

Expense Manageability

Historically, Jikoji's expenses have been very carefully managed; lack of income generally has precluded our undertaking many much-needed improvement projects. The primary variable in Jikoji's expenses is consequently how much Jikoji undertakes. Its current rustic facilities are one result of generally very modest incomes over the prior few decades.

There are however a number of other significant variables in Jikoji's expenses. Most of the work needed to maintain Jikoji has been contributed, resulting in lower expenses but with poor quality results where and when corners have been cut to minimize expenses. Jikoji's planned improvement projects will largely be done by professional contractors however, and this may result in part in greater dependence on contractors in general, with substantial increases in future maintenance-related expenses.

Jikoji's People

Throughout Jikoji's history, Kobun (as Jikoji's Spiritual Founder and Head Teacher), with Jikoji's then-current Director, had provided responsible direction for all aspects of Jikoji. Caretakers, now called Resident Practioners or simply Residents, handle the day-to-day operations of Jikoji, and also assume much of the responsibility for Jikoji's usual projects and programs. Various Sangha members also contribute to projects and programs, particularly one-time and non-recurring programs. The Board provides overview and oversight.

Recent History Following Kobun's tragic death in 2002, Vanja Palmer, as Kobun's Dharma heir, assumed responsibility for the spiritual direction of Jikoji. His role has been affirmed by the Board and by Kobun's brother Keibun Otogawa. At Vanja's instigation and with the concurrence and support of the Sangha, in 2004 one of Vanja's Dharma Heirs, Michael Newhall, agreed to serve as Resident Teacher at Jikoji. In early 2005, Vanja recommended that Michael should increasingly assume responsibility and direction for all aspects of Jikoji. Michael and the Board subsequently agreed and affirmed this direction, with the added strategic objective of progressively strengthening Jikoji's teaching, meditation, and related programs. Various Sangha members staff a set of standing committees to plan, direct, and carry out supporting functions. Caretakers continue to staff most of Jikoji's operations, as well as supporting, serving on, and/or directing committees.

Risks and Contingencies Relative to Jikoji's people, the major contingencies and risks facing Jikoji are Personnel risks. These are best described and assessed within the major categories of personnel supporting Jikoji. These range from the possibility of losing Sangha support, and losing one or more of the most critical people, through developing conflicts or factions within Jikoji, and even of abandoning the founding principles or adopting new direcions. Each of these is discussed in a paragraph below.

Sangha Participation and Contributions

Jikoji derives significant support from the many people who have been deeply influenced by Kobun and his teachings, and who have participated in Jikoji's activities, particularly its Sesshins. Sesshin practice is very unusual, and those who have participated share a deep learning experience and culture. However many of us attributed this experience to Kobun personally, and his death raises the possibility of general loss of Sangha support and interest. Recent amendments to the Bylaws have mitigated this risk, and ensured that Kobun's teaching traditions will not be lost or diluted with time.

Critical People:

Jikoji has a long history of depending heavily on a few relatively critical people; Kobun himself both founded and shaped Jikoji's destiny. Jikoji's executive directors faithfully served under Kobun's direction; first Angie Boissevain for almost twenty years, then Michael Newhall, and most recently Ryan Brandenberg for over ten years. Also, there were usually one or two critical Caretakers (now Resident Practitioners) and Board members who shoulder significant responsibility for Jikoji's continuing success.

Despite Jikoji's dependence on critical people, Jikoji has however demonstrated resilience to major changes; even Kobun's accidental death has not resulted in a loss of functional focus or leadership within Jikoji. Instead the great crisis ensuing from Kobun's death seems to have stimultated many changes that have greatly lessened risks, such as the amendments in the Bylaws that clearly identify Jikoji's objectives and functions, and also vest improved direction through the Resident Teacher. Further, the Organizational and Operations Personnel Structures linked to this document below have replaced much of Jikoji's prior dependence on a few critical people. It is of course still true that a number of people are still critical to Jikoji's success, such as Michael, several long-term resident practitioners, and several Board members. Jikoji's resilience in the past to major changes, and even to major conflicts among its key people, suggests that when the current critical people move on others, and perhaps many others, will successfully replace them.

Conflicts or Factions:

Of many conflicts in Jikoji's history, the most severe may have been between some members on the Board of Directors and the then acting exective director, Ryan Brandenberg, following Kobun's death. This conflict was resolved largely through the noble efforts of those involved, particularly Ryan. Related conflicts occur between Resident Practioners and Board Members, and between those supporting only Kobun's Zen practices and those who also support Native American traditions. Jikoji's history has been to resolve such conflicts through adherence to its guiding principles and throught the heartfelt good intentions of those involved.

Changes in Directions:

The bylaws have been successfully amended twice in the last few years. One major effect is that Jikoji's teaching objectives and functions have clearly been identified, and are clearly to be passed on within Kobun's direct lineage of teachers. Another major effect is that responsibility for the continuing manifold operations and development of Jikoji, under the direction of the Resident Teacher, is now vested in a number of committees whose scope and relationships are described in Committees (Revision D) and illustrated in Committee Relationships and Reporting