Last September, after our fall Inayati Order–North America Board Retreat, we sent out an update sharing some big changes, decisions made, and next steps for the Order. Today we would like to give you a few more updates and highlights about some of the things happening within the Inayati Order currently.
Our New Logo
On January 1st, we launched our new name, The Inayati Order, and a new website, www.inayatiorder.org. Now, in the last week, we have also revealed our new logo (see above) as a next step in creating a unifying identity representing the Sufi teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan. You can read about and see variations of the new logo here: http://inayatiorder.org/our-new-logo/.
Another big change is that we plan to move Pir Zia and the Inayati Order–North America Secretariat offices from the Abode of the Message in New Lebanon, New York, to a more populated area in the next year, likely a site in either the Mid-Atlantic or Southeastern part of the United States. We are in an intensive stage of researching and considering sites. So far, we have:
- Initiated and regularly convened a relocation committee, including board members—Pir Zia, Taj Inayat, Amina Hall, Roshan Peay, Fazl Peay, Huzur Nawaz German, and Mahbood Seligman—and staff members—Yaqin Aubert, Jennifer Alia Wittman, and Deepa Gulrukh Patel.
- Narrowed the search criteria and cities under consideration. Important factors emerging for us include—cost of living, cost of doing business, climate, diversity, cultural vibrancy, local interest and support, and ease of travel.
- Begun to develop space requirements and usage needs.
- Begun to consult with and research brokers, with the hope of hiring a broker and/or relocation project manager by this summer.
- Begun to establish a definitive project schedule and budget, knowing that we hope to move June 2017.
Once we pare down the possibilities to just two or three primary site candidates, we will seek feedback from all of you on our choices, and invite your help in finalizing our location. If you haven’t seen this before, background on the rationale for our move can be found here: http://www.inayatiorder.org/organization/executive-committee-letter-october-2015/
On a related note, since 2005, the Inayati Order–North America Secretariat has provided both board oversight and on-the-ground management for the Abode of the Message, our retreat center and residential community in New Lebanon, New York. We are currently in the process of collaboratively developing a plan to return management of the retreat center to a newly formed Abode Board of Trustees and management staff.
To this end, this past January, an Abode Steering Committee was appointed as a first step in the process. Abode Steering Committee members include: Huzur Nawaz German, chair; Aimee Johnson; Gabriel Steadman; Nasreen Moayedi; and Mahbood Davis. We expect a full transition to a new Abode Board of Trustees and on-site leadership by the spring of 2017.
The Abode Steering Committee has just published its own update that you can read here.
The Inayati Order in North America is a small, faith-based non-profit organization with an annual budget of around $500,000. In 2015, we spent $475,962, $330,518 going to general operating expenses (including staff, rent, insurances, phone, technology, etc.), $77,957 to program development, $27,696 to direct support for our Pir (not including salary or staff support), $26,100 to communications, and $13,691 to costs of publications and credit card fees.
Last year, we raised $514,801 in support of the areas named above, $271,983 through donations and sponsorships, $229,754 through program fees, $20,000 through grants (temporary restrictions), and $6,977 through sales.
In addition to this, within the last year, we raised $233,401 for the Abode of the Message, with $168,913 coming through the then Sufi Order–North America, both as checks and as on-line donations through Donor Perfect. The Abode Summer Appeal 2015 came together quickly, in response to an anticipated Abode financial shortfall. Because things came together so quickly, we used the Inayati/Sufi Order’s existing on-line donation system to ease the process. Future Abode fundraisers will use a new donation system owned and operated by the Abode. All monies specified for the Abode were audited and fully transferred to the Abode in September 2015 by our outside accountants, Kensington Business Solutions.
Over the first part of the year, we spent considerable time closing-out our bookkeeping for 2015 and budget planning for 2016. An Inayati Order Statement of Financial Position for December 31, 2015, is now available, as well as related Financial Highlights. We will share the Inayati Order Budget 2016 in our summer e-newsletter.
As for communications, we continue to actively modernize and update all of our technologies, including our new website (WordPress) and e-communications (Mailchimp), an easier on-line registration system (EventBrite), improved audio and video archiving (Amazon S3), increased access to video and audio (coming), and updated print materials and resource publications (coming), among other things. Each month, we aim to improve our communications bit-by-bit.
Next, we will focus on timeliness and responsiveness via email and phone (we hope new administrative staff, as well as technology, will help), growing-out our website with more offerings and better up-to-date information, and specialized communications packages for local Inayati Order Centers, among other things. If you have ideas or questions about Inayati Communications, please feel free to e-mail them to Satya at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registration is now open for a variety of upcoming programs, including: Wisdom of the Prophets – Part II: Sufism & Buddhism (in-person and on-line), May 5-8 at the Abode of the Message in New Lebanon, NY; Entering the Consciousness of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan: A 100th Birthday Celebration, June 16-19 also at the Abode; and Season of the Rose: Essentials of the Sufi Path, July 6-11 in Portland, Oregon. For a full list of programs and registration details, please visit http://inayatiorder.org/calendar/. (Partial scholarships are often available, so please ask!)
We are also expanding our on-line programing with two new series this spring: Esotericism with Aziza Scott, Thursdays, April 7-21, and The Message with Suhrawardi Gebel, Thursdays, April 28 – May 26. Pir Zia is also planning to offer a livestream course this fall. All on-line courses are first offered on a donation basis for 3-4 weeks (to be as accessible as possible to our worldwide audience). After this period, we move our on-line programs to Vimeo for rent or purchase.
Inayati Leadership Visioning Gathering
Next week, April 22nd-26th, an internal organizational event is happening at the Abode of the Message: the Inayati Leadership Visioning Gathering, bringing together over 90 Inayati leaders from across North America, with representatives also from Australia, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The purpose of the gathering is to contemplate and discuss the future of our Order.
The Inayati Order is going through some big shifts, and in the context of the changes taking place, sincerely hopes to better unify all of our collectively held pieces across continents, countries and states, integrating the Five Activities, and bringing together generations of Inayati leaders in one shared body and clear organizational identity.
In January, a first meeting was held in Suresnes, France, to begin the conversation. Details from that gathering, as well as the one here in the United States, will be shared in our Summer Newsletter 2016. (A report will also be sent out earlier from Deepa Gulrukh Patel, our International Coordinator, and the lead organizer of these gatherings.)
Our board currently has 10 members, including a new addition, M’ellen Kennedy, who joined our group this past January. M’ellen is a Unitarian Universalist minister in Vermont, a Universal Worship Cheraga, a Sufi Healing Order Shafayat, and a member of the Sufi Healing Order Board. As a board member, M’ellen will chair the newly formed Five Activities Committee, collaboratively looking at ways we can integrate the Esoteric School, Sufi Healing Order, Universal Worship, Kinship Activity, and Ziraat under the umbrella of the Inayati Order. For more on M’ellen and others on our board, you can find a full list of board members, with bios, here: http://inayatiorder.org/board/.
As of this past month, Chris Jalila Maddox has taken over the post of Suluk Administrator from Sarah Leila Manolson (who has been filling in) for the Jabalqa class (September 2015 to June 2017). Jalila is a graduate of Suluk’s Gulzar class that graduated last June. She is an experienced event organizer, and is founder of the Wild Woman Project, which hosts circles worldwide, as well as an annual festival on the Abode’s Mountain. http://thewildwomanproject.com/
Currently, our small staff is made up of: Pir Zia as head of the Order; Yaqin Aubert as Esoteric Secretary; Jennifer Alia Wittman as Executive Director; Satya Inayat Khan as Director of Communications (12.5hrs/week); Chris Jalila Maddox (10hrs/week); in addition to several others contractors or professional volunteers who assist us throughout the year. See our full staff list here: http://inayatiorder.org/staff/.
We are currently in the process of hiring two new positions: an Executive Assistant, and an Administrative Assistant. You can find details on both of these positions here. As we plan to move our offices in the next year, we will hire both positions on contract through June 2017, with a possible option to move with us to the new site. Please help us spread the word about these opportunities to serve our Order.
Our hope is to report like this quarterly. We intend to send-out our next e-mail in the Summer of 2016, followed by Fall 2016, etc. Between reports, if you have any related questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to e-mail us at email@example.com.
We thank all of you who have participated and supported the Inayati Order over the past year. One of our goals is to move toward a greater transparency and responsiveness, taking every organizational step in service to our unfoldment as individuals and as a collective, all representing the Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan in the world today.