Business Plan for Jikoji

Plan.php [corresponding page at "fund" subdomain]


Section 1 :: Introduction and Organization

This overview describes Jikoji's Business Plan.

Section 2 below describes our purposes and objectives, focusing on fund raising support for Jikoji's finances.

Section 3 directly projects Jikoji's recent history, and considers the effects of several anticipated changes in growth rates of teaching and meditation activities, as well as supporting businesses, particularly rentals of Jikoji facilities for similar meditation groups retreats.

Section 4 describes various major contingencies and risks, and their financial implications in terms of the basic projections of Section 3.

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. In some instances archival sources are located on a previous version of this site.

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

Version: This business plan is dated June 2016.

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,, provides general user information on Jikoji, including our programs and our services. This sub-domain is Fund Jikoji, focusing on Finances. Please see also Kobun's Teachings, Jikoji's History, and our Administration pages.

Section 2 :: Strategic Objectives

This business plan documents the financial considerations in support of Jikoji's Purposes, as stated in Jikoji's Bylaws, Article 2 Section 1:

"The primary objectives and purposes of this corporation, as originally inspired by Kobun Otogawa, Roshi, Jikoji's spiritual founder, shall be to provide:

(a) space for instruction in and practice of meditation for all interested people, as taught and practiced by Kobun Otogawa, Roshi;
(b) religious and educational activities which arise therefrom, including, but not limited to retreats, classes, and seminars in the arts and sciences;
(c) for publishing related materials arising out of these activities; and,
(d) a place where people from many different backgrounds can come together in a peaceful atmosphere of learning and renewal."

Under the direction of Guiding Teacher Shoho Michael Newhall, and our Board of Directors, Jikoji is strengthening its teaching, meditation, and related programs, while progressively improving its infrastructure and facilities. As stated in the Bylaws of Jikoji, the Guiding Teacher provides on-hand direction for all aspects of Jikoji, with the Board providing overview and oversight, particularly relative to Jikoji's fiduciary responsibilities. As described further in Section 4 and its linked documents, committees plan and direct activities, and residents staff most of Jikoji's operations.

Working toward these objectives, the Board and Shoho Michael are in part constrained by funding, as reflected in the financial projections and tables of Section 3, as well as the Contingencies and Risks discussed in Section 4.

Section 3 :: Current and Projected Financial Trends

Total Revenue for Jikoji's recent past show steady growth initially, but with an exceptional 2014 and a downturn projected for 2017 due in part to the lack of budgeted funds-raising.

2011-12: $ 122,754.00
2012-13: $ 116,663.08
2013-14: $ 102,922.33
2014-15: $ 150,697.40
2015-16: $ 123,058.24
2016-17: $ 113,932.00 projected

Total Expenses for Jikoji's last few years (prior years are not directly comparable) include.

2013-14: $ 74,352.75
2014-15: $ 77,462.19
2015-16: $ 90,815.60
2016-17: $ 99,052.40 projected

With Board approval required, funds may be used for facilities improvements. Since 2003 about $400,000 has been invested in facilities improvements, including infrastructure such as earthquake retrofitting for all buildings, refurbishing of many rooms, and new roofing, as well as modernization.

Jikoji's Balance Sheet as of April 30, 2016 (the end of the 2015-16 fiscal year), showed about $75,000 in Total Assets, almost equally divided between non-designated and designated funds. Fixed assets (land and buildings) total about $260,000. Land and buildings are not negotiable; although hypothetically through extensive Bylaws amendments and Teacher approvals fixed assets could be transferred (sold) to comparable non-profit corporations but subject to prior agreements, particularly those with the Mid-Peninsula Open Space District which surrounds Jikoji.

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 focuses on the practice and the teaching of Zen; increasing revenue is not a primary objective. Nevertheless, revenue is clearly increasing, 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. The risks due to competition are from alternative retreat rental facilities that have better facilities than Jikoji. Jikoji Rentals director 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. Facilities improvements should greatly diminish these competitive risks.

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 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 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 are now largely be done by professional contractors, and this may result in part in greater dependence on contractors in general.

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 Practitioners 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 directions. 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 participate share a deep learning experience and culture.

Critical People:

Jikoji has depended heavily on a few relatively critical people; Kobun himself both founded and shaped Jikoji's destiny. Since Kobun's death, Michael Newhall took responsibility, with Board concurrence. Also, there are always a few on-site caretakers (now called Term Practitioners) and Board Members who shoulder significant responsibility for Jikoji's continuing operations and management, but these roles change usually in a few years, or a few decades.

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 crisis ensuing from Kobun's death seems to have stimulated 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. 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 withstood major changes and major conflicts among its key people, suggesting that when the current people move on others, and perhaps many others, will successfully replace them.

Changes in Directions:

The Board is responsible for further changes in directions within the constraints reflected by the Bylaws. The bylaws have been successfully amended twice in the last decade. Jikoji's teaching objectives and functions have been identified, and their ongoing management is entrusted in the Resident Teacher, Shoho Michael Newhall. On his retirement or resignation and in consultation with other members of the Sangha, Michael shall designate his/her successor from within Kobun's direct lineage of teachers, subject to Board Approval.