CEO Update December 21, 2020

IOWA and Surface Navy Museum Family:


We begin this holiday week with a sense of hope for the beginning of the end of the current pandemic. New legislation has been passed, two vaccines have been approved for distribution, and much of the country is in the process of recovering.


If you are in California, you are more likely than not experiencing a different reality. The majority of the state is in lockdown and Los Angeles is now being called the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals are full and are bracing for the worst as COVID-19 surges. Small businesses and non-profit museums like us are feeling the brunt of the resulting restrictions which have had long ranging effects on our crew, staff, and organization. All the while, we watch from the sidelines as other industries and states are able to remain open and continue their road to recovery.


New legislation that has specific proposals to address this disparity is pending, including another round of PPP for those most affected with additional funding for struggling live venues, independent movie theaters, and museums We squarely fit into these categories and our finance team has already reached out to our bank to determine the next steps. During this pandemic, F&M Bank has gone above and beyond to work with us and we can’t praise F&M and our bankers enough for what they have done to support us.


Thankfully, we have dedicated supporters and crewmembers like you who are making sure we survive the pandemic. As I write, thanks to funding primarily from our crew, Mike Getscher is driving a U-Haul across the country with battleship spare parts from a trip to Philadelphia last week.


uhaul with mark 48 computer


100% of our board has contributed in 2020, including a recent in-kind donation of several pallets of hand sanitizer from UPS and board member Bruce DD Mac Rae.


We are blessed to have incredible donors who give cash, supplies, planned contributions, and time to not only help us through this crisis, but also assist in our transition to become the National Museum of the Surface Navy.


Last week, I sent out an appeal to help cover some vital costs to operate the organization while we are closed. The outpouring of support has been tremendous and we are closing in on the $68,000 goal with approximately $5,000 to go. We have been asked if $68,000 covers all of our expenses for a month and I can confirm that it does not. It only covers the most critical expenses which tend to be the most appealing to the majority of supporters. The $68,000 appeal excludes necessary costs such as overhead, executive wages, development costs, finance department, and marketing expenses. It also omits our education and veterans programs, as we have major donors that have underwritten these costs through most of 2021.


A top priority for the team is to be transparent and diligent with the stewardship of the organization’s resources.We are proud of our efforts which have given us excellent ratings including the Charity Navigator Encompass Rating of 100 out of 100 and GuideStar Gold Seal of Transparency.  Our organization is audited annually and we post this information online, along with our board member list. Our team takes their roles seriously in maintaining and operating a community based non-profit.


We believe the situation posed by the pandemic is only temporary in nature. While we are addressing the challenging issues of today, we remain focused on the exciting changes of the future. Our 2021 plans are targeted on a balance of efficiency, diversity, and growth with a long-term goal of opening the National Museum of the Surface Navy on board in 2025. In 2021 we will continue our efforts into the virtual realm, while improving our in-person operation to amplify impact. A few of our exciting projects planned in 2021 include a new food and beverage opportunity, preparation of spaces for the National Museum, and increasing initiatives to broaden our reach.


Throughout 2021, we will also continue to meet with potential major investors of the National Museum of the Surface Navy and build on early success we achieved in late 2020. Joleen and the development team are immersed in an effort to plan and submit a major grant towards a potential Veterans Park project pier side. David and the technology team are working on plank owner system improvements for its eventual broad release planned in February. Mike and the operational teams are planning maintenance and operations updates to ensure we remain efficient, safe, and preserved. As a supporter of the IOWA and an early supporter of the National Museum of the Surface Navy, you are on the inside of this evolution and we are excited to have you involved.


As we near the end of the year, we wish you and your family a blessed and joyful holiday season and prosperous New Year. We are deeply appreciative of your friendship and support.


Jonathan Williams

President and CEO


P.S. We’re getting so close. Help us hit the mark!

Please share our Operation American Spirit campaign with your family and friends, and inspire them not only to support the cause, but to spread the word themselves.  And don’t forget, we have a special perk for donations of $100 and above!

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