General articles

The Ringing World finances

At the November meeting of The Ringing World’s Board of Directors some time was spent discussing the forecast outturn for 2008 and the budget for 2009. One of the decisions taken then was to keep our readers informed as to how the RW is faring financially during these difficult times.

For five years up to and including 2007 the accounts of The Ringing World showed a substantial surplus of income over expenditure, arising largely from savings made following the move to Andover in 2002 and notable reductions in printing costs. Although we continue regularly to review supplier contracts to ensure we are getting the best deal possible, general inflationary increases, combined with a slower growth in income, mean that, sadly, that happy situation has come to an end and the 2008 figures are likely to show a deficit of about £10,000 on a turnover of £280,000.

The years of plenty have, however, enabled the RW to build up substantial reserves. These will help to see us through leaner times, as well as providing the means for investment of any kind that will help to provide a better service for readers and the ringing public. One item in particular in 2008 falls into this category, namely the much-needed redesign of the website, www.ringingworld.co.uk, which has cost just under £7,000. We hope you find it useful and agree that it was money well spent.

Another extraordinary item of expenditure in 2008 was that of The Ringing World’s presence at the Roadshow. The total cost of £8,000 included the stand itself and all its accessories and related transport costs, staff travel and accommodation and the mugs and pens which were on sale. Against this, takings at the Roadshow from the sale of diaries, calendars, Christmas cards, mugs and pens amounted to a remarkable £14,000, and the event also gave us an excellent opportunity to meet both readers and non-readers and to hear their views on the RW and its future development.

The good news in relation to 2008 is that, after a small reduction at the beginning of the year, the gradual decline in sales of The Ringing World which has continued for many years seems to be levelling off. This is against the trend for newspapers and magazines generally (where the decline has been rather steeper) and we like to think that it is due to the changes made in paper quality and layout and to the efforts made by the Editor to improve the breadth and quality of the content. It is of course vital for the financial viability of the paper that circulation remains buoyant, so please do renew your subscription when due, and, if you are reading someone else’s copy, please consider taking out a subscription yourself.

Regrettably other income items did not do so well in 2008. Although final figures are not yet known, it seems likely that compared with 2007 income from notices and advertising will be down by 16%, sales of diaries and calendars will be down by 13%, despite the excellent start at the Roadshow, and donations down by 10%. Perhaps these are indications that the recession really is beginning to bite.

For 2009 the prospects financially are not looking too good. Although inflation is low, costs will continue to rise – indeed Royal Mail has already announced price increases which will add some £2,000 to our distribution costs. Also, with the big drop in interest rates, income from investments is likely to be substantially down, despite a recent move to place the bulk of the funds in a one-year fixed rate account at 4%. It is therefore vital that our other income streams are maintained, from subscriptions and other sales of The Ringing World, from sales of diaries, calendars and Christmas cards (a new design will be prepared for Christmas 2009) and from notices and advertisements in the RW and on the website.

We decided not to raise subscription rates this year, having done so at the beginning of 2008, but to make a small increase in the charges for notices and advertisements (last raised in 2007).

An extra item of expenditure in 2009 will be the move of the RW office to new premises in Andover. A number of alterations are needed to the new office, which together with removal costs and legal fees, will amount to some £11,000. Efforts are being made to hold back on some other expenditure in 2009, but, if the whole of the office move cost has to be accounted for in 2009 (we are seeking advice on this point), the deficit in 2009 could be around £17,000.

All this sounds rather gloomy, but readers can be assured that your Directors and the staff at Andover will be doing everything possible to keep the good ship Ringing World on an even keel through these stormy times and, in particular, to maintain and enhance the quality of the paper. We are confident that, with the support of ringers everywhere, the RW will continue to provide a vital service to the ringing exercise for many years to come.

CHRIS ROGERS
Finance Director

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CC
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers