Annual Report 2020
The mission of Dawn Mountain is to further the spiritual growth of our diverse community as a living bridge between traditional Tibetan Buddhist teachings and curious people everywhere.
Letter from Our Founders
Dear Dawn Mountain Community,
Harvey and I are deeply touched by your collective and individual generosities.
You make possible all our activities of teaching, practice, and more.
You yourselves are inspiring examples of compassion and community. And, through your study and support, you embody tradition and transformation in the best possible ways, especially in how you connect with each other.
Often, people familiar with other spiritual centers, spontaneously tell us how welcoming, warm and supportive they find our unique community. This is thanks to you.
Rumi says, “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” We feel it. May you always know that joy!
Both of us thank you for all of it with radiant hearts.
Lama Rigzin Drolma and Lama Namgyal Dorje
Letter from the Board of Directors
Although intended to serve as an “annual report”, this update necessarily spans the past several years, commencing in 2018 with the pivotal event of our purchasing a building in Houston. That milestone, along with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have been key factors impacting Dawn Mountain’s
Like many organizations, Dawn Mountain has faced significant challenges due to the pandemic. Most importantly for our mission, it prevented the sangha from meeting in person for teaching and practice. Fortunately, Dawn Mountain’s existing robust broadcasting capacity served us well, enabling us to quickly shift our teaching and practice programs to a 100% virtual format. During this time of great flux, we used the opportunity to take stock of our accomplishments and identify our top priorities for the coming 12 to 18
Highlights of Accomplishments Over Past Three Years
- Expanded Dawn Mountain’s global presence via teachings held in Europe and by outreach to students across the US and the world. In 2020, registration for Dzogchen Cycles program participation grew by 20% over the previous year. Additionally, we had 105 participants in the Yeshe Tsogyal 2020 Practice Retreat.
- In 2020, uploaded almost 70 hours of publicly available teachings to YouTube and another 250 hours of teachings which are available to enrolled students for access and further study at their convenience.
- In 2018, purchased and began renovation of a 9,000 square foot building in Houston to serve as temple, staff offices, and community gathering space.
- Hired a Digital Manager in early 2019 to expand Dawn Mountain’s broadcasting program, maintain our website, and provide outreach to our global Buddhist audience.
- Hired a new Executive Director in fall 2019.
- Provided healthcare benefits to staff starting in late 2019 as a financial safety net.
- Renewed our commitment to Dawn Mountain’s 2018 strategic plan by identifying the top 5 priorities for the Board’s focus over the next 12 to 18 months.
Top 5 Board Priorities for Next 12-18 Months
- Complete renovation and move into building. We have been inspired by the purchase of our own building to house our temple, staff offices, and a community gathering space. Dawn Mountain has faced unforeseen delays in completing the renovation due to the cost of construction and the impact of COVID-19 on obtaining permits. In August 2020, we engaged a contractor to assess the cost of the remaining work and to serve as project manager when we resume construction. We hope to make good progress on construction this spring starting in early March, but there are uncertainties as to when our members and the public will feel comfortable gathering in person again. We are eager to gather our sangha to hold teachings and practices in the temple as soon as is safely possible.
- Financial stability will continue to be a key focus in the coming year. Detailed information about Dawn Mountain’s finances is in the Treasure’s Report.
- Enhance programmatic offerings to strengthen and expand our reach. The newly created Program Working Group has assembled a talented team to spearhead the development of new programs to serve as a gateway for prospective students to engage with Dawn Mountain.
- Develop future teachers and ritual leaders. A new teacher’s group was initiated under the Founder’s guidance in late 2020 to cultivate future teachers and ritual leaders.
- Volunteer engagement and board development. The Board has organized to recruit and re-engage volunteers ahead of moving into the temple. In the coming year, Dawn Mountain will appoint two new Directors to help carry out its activities. If you are interested in serving as a volunteer or on the Board, please reach out to a current Board member or to our Executive Director Bob Meyer.
Cate Hutton, VP for Administration
We are incredibly thankful to those of you who have given to Dawn Mountain so generously through gifts of time, skills, and money. Dawn Mountain depends largely on donations from practitioners around the world to provide programs and services to Ad.zom Rinpoche’s global Dzogchen Nyingthig community and fund our operations. In other words, your big-hearted donations allow us, in turn, to increasingly offer you the gift of the dharma. We are humbly mindful of the trust placed in us to responsibly manage your offerings.
Since 2018, increased campaign fundraising and the purchase of the building at 3100 West Fuqua Street, Houston—now called the Skylit Temple—led us to institute enhanced financial controls, tracking, understanding of cash flows, and financial projections. We are able to better explain how our finances
support the mission, progress, and outcomes in a candid and transparent manner in this, our initial annual report.
In 2020, Dawn Mountain was profitable on an operating basis as it has been since 2017. Excluding donations related to the building, we realized a positive net income of approximately $100,000 with much of this needed to complete Temple renovations in 2021. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, all profits are used to fund our mission to further the growth of our diverse community by serving as a living bridge between traditional Tibetan Buddhist teachings and curious people everywhere.
In addition to financial gifts and support provided through paid memberships, Dawn Mountain generates income from programs held mostly in Houston, Texas, and streamed online in real time and available asynchronously online. As a result of additional programs and outreach, program income increased approximately $43,000 from 2019.
In 2018, the purchase and renovation of the Skylit Temple required taking on debt and the 2020 pandemic caused us to reassess our original plans involving revenue. We successfully applied for Payroll Protection Program Loans amounting to $32,000, helping us meet payroll and related expenses, which should be forgiven. Forced by the pandemic to go online exclusively, we expanded programming that increased revenue without increasing operating costs. However, we were unable to hold a major fall Gala which reduced planned income.
The pandemic also pushed us to reduce expenses, like eliminating a part-time temporary position that had extended beyond its original 2019 end date and, with staff working from home, we reduced operating expenses significantly. We applied to refinance the mortgage loan at a lower interest rate effective early 2021, significantly reducing monthly payments. But Temple renovation had to be suspended, delaying its completion to 2021. In seeking to restart this work, we learned that completing the building will be more expensive than anticipated. In the future, online program success plus higher building expense may warrant rethinking program delivery and investment in capital.
With the launch of a capital campaign two years ago, 2018 and 2019 were strong years in terms of fundraising with donations of $413,665 and $453,210, respectively. As anticipated, 2020 donations, at $174,000, began to return to a lower amount.
Campaign Fundraising for Building and Renovations
- Total Funds Received (12/31/20)
- Total Funds Expended on Building & Renovations (12/31/20)
- To Complete Renovations
- Cash from Campaign as Savings (12/31/20)
- Funds Received/Pledged for 2021
- Total Available for Renovations (03/01/21)
Dawn Mountain receives two kinds of contributions, restricted and unrestricted. Restricted donations are given for a specific use and cannot be used for other purposes. We have received restricted funds for creating
scholarly publications, the Broadcast Center, Children’s Program, and Skylit Temple renovations. Unrestricted donations may be used at management’s discretion based on the organization’s needs.
As we wind down Temple renovations, the need for unrestricted giving, particularly annual giving, will be increasingly important to address other operational areas of the 2020 updated strategic plan described in the Board of Directors Letter above. For this reason, we have transformed the Capital Campaign Committee into a Development Committee which will focus on raising funds for both operating and capital expenses. Its broader scope will help us work toward future goals of building an operating reserve fund and then paying off the mortgage as soon as possible. With funds raised for the new Temple, Dawn Mountain’s balance sheet has grown over the past several years. Renovation expenses are visible in the expansion of fixed assets and decrease in current assets (see chart below). This trend will continue in 2021.
Joanne A. Schneider, Treasurer and Co-Chair of the Development Committee
Thank You: Support 2020
We are grateful to all of our friends who supported us through throughout 2020 with their many and varied gifts to bring our vision to fruition. The following is a list of our generous donors who contributed to various fundraising campaigns in 2020.
Anne Carolyn Klein
Ek Ong Kaar
F. Hilton Lacy
Glenn Gary Gauntt
Harvey B Aronson
John Pfeiffer and
Karin H Kolodziejski
Martijn Van Beek
R. James Boal
Raoni Duran Melo
Robert C Woods
Robert J. Meyer
Surabhi K Splain
Wendy L. Fillmore