Five Minutes with NAFAS Chief Executive, Steven Lane
As specialists in floristry holidays and travel, we are incredibly proud of our long-standing friendship and partnership with the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies – or NAFAS as it is known. We have recently renewed this partnership and, to mark the occasion, we sat down with the organisation’s Chief Executive Steven Lane to talk about why NAFAS matters and how he plans to ensure it enjoys the brightest of futures.
ECT: You were appointed Chief Executive of NAFAS in 2019 – why did you want the job?
SL: I am very much a processes sort of person. I have been in the charity sector for over 20 years and my last two roles have been about going in when the charity has been in a little bit of trouble and making sure all the correct processes and procedures are in place. When I was told about NAFAS and went to meet with the then Chair Jan Law and two or three other trustees, it was clear the organisation wasn’t in a very healthy position when it came to governance and finance. It was crying out for change and I quite fancied that challenge.
ECT: What makes NAFAS such a special organisation?
SL: NAFAS has been going for 60 years and has something like 40,000 members; that popularity alone makes it special, but its structure is also quite unique. Membership can be whatever you want it to be. You go in at club level and if you are looking for a creative, social gathering with like-minded people, then you can have that. Alternatively, there is a pathway right the way through the organisation - members can go on to be demonstrators, teachers, judges, speakers, Area chairs, even trustees. And in some cases, membership enables people to develop their professional careers – we’ve had people come through the system who have gone on to run their own florists, and we’ve had florists come to us to learn more about floral design. Very few other organisations offer that mix. And there is so much passion and dedication within the membership. It really is extraordinary - people don’t just turn up once a month for a meeting, NAFAS becomes part of their life. I work alongside the Directors, who all come from within the organisation, and they have toured the world giving demonstrations. It’s a lifestyle.
ECT: NAFAS has just renewed its partnership with ECT Travel – we’re thrilled, but why is this partnership important to you?
SL: If you have any ambition as an organisation then you need to be associated with the very best. I consider NAFAS to be a world leader in floral design so why wouldn’t we want to partner with a travel company that leads the way in floral tours and trips and events?
ECT: What is your first challenge in making NAFAS fit for the future?
SL: NAFAS will be fine – the dedication and enthusiasm of the members I was just speaking about will drive it forward, but the organisation does need guidance in going in the right direction. The primary target is sustainability. We have had three deficit years financially and sadly the pandemic has pushed us into a corner, so we have to get our house in order. We are very lucky as an organisation to have the asset of Osborne House, our head office in London, because that is worth a substantial amount of money and, if the Board votes to sell, it provides the organisation with the opportunity to invest and drive NAFAS forward in a different way. That’s an objective that might happen this year or next. Meanwhile, in the short term, we are sorting out our governance – we have had an independent governance review – and we’ve put together a Strategy Team to look at our vision, mission statement and values. We have also got a review of our Articles of Association going ahead at the moment, which will help to attract directors onto the board from outside of the organisation.
ECT: And after that?
SL: We need to address all those issues that have been around for years, like how to attract new members. Bringing in younger members is the holy grail. We need to be more interactive and flexible with how and when our clubs meet – over this past year we have all learned that Zoom is a wonderful way to interact for example. And we need to build relationships with colleges up and down the country, promoting NAFAS in a positive way. We have been reactive in the past and we need to be proactive. We need to better at reporting on the impact NAFAS has on its communities and the benefits to our mental health of being part of something and being creative, for example, and we need to say more about what clubs and demonstrators are doing to address environmental issues, like trying to use techniques that don’t use foam.
ECT: It’s quite a to-do list… what do you do to relax. Do you arrange flowers?
SL: No, I know absolutely nothing about flower arranging! Although I am in awe of what NAFAS members create. I have become a little bit of a gardener over last few years though and when I go to area shows, I often buy rose plants. I love white roses.
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