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How did CIPR make a loss of £200k last year?

Credit: Alastair McCapra, credit CIPR

Detailed in its 2023 annual report, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) said that despite growing its revenue by 5.8% and net membership by 5.7%, it made a significant loss of £207,854.

CIPR CEO, Alastair McCapra told PRmoment: “Our annual report showed one year of poor results in 2023 but we are solvent, within our established reserves policy, and trading strongly in 2024. We have just had a clean and unqualified audit report for 2023 and are performing better than the budget for 2024.

“Membership grew by 600 last year, and in particular corporate affiliates grew to over 200. Membership is continuing to rise in 2024.”

The loss, according to the body, was an amalgamation of different things but mainly the decreased demand for training. The growth of its new on-demand learning platform, which enables the delivery of CIPR qualifications on a global level, has been “slower than forecast”.

McCapra added that 2023 was an “incredibly busy year”, but it experienced an unexpected and sharp downturn with training sales and events tickets.

“We started off the year by being too ambitious about what we could achieve and misjudged the market for our regional PRide Awards when we went back to face-to-face events.”

The PRide Awards were the first face-to-face event since 2019, and being cost-of-living conscious, CIPR trialled a new buffet meal formula over a traditional formal dinner.

The reaction was that bookings were “much lower” than budgeted and the feedback received was “almost uniformly negative”. As a result the awards are now on ice for 2024 pending a Board review into whether they can be delivered sustainably in the future.

McCapra said: “[I am] pleased to say that our business levels are well above what they were in 2023. We have paused PRide for 2024 and, after consultation, won’t bring it back until we have a formula we can be confident about.

“Business rebounded very quickly in [the first quarter] of this year, and we have performed better than budget and better than 2023 every month of the year so far, so we are confident that we are not going to see a repetition of last year’s results.

“Our stronger trading year so far in 2024 means that if there is a downturn late in the year we will go into it from a much stronger financial position than we did in 2023.”

Meanwhile, its 2022 annual report and financial results painted a similar picture, as the body reported a loss of £71,933.

While it trained more people than it did in 2019, CIPR said profitability was lower than expected with reduced demand for live sessions. Events and awards profitability were also subjected to “similar effects”, and it made its first unanticipated loss since 2016.

CIPR said: “This was a result of late changes to spending plans during the year, and partly because of a forecast produced in the autumn that gave us an unrealistically positive set of expectations for the final quarter.”

It also said that it did not anticipate a further loss in 2023, as it “strengthened internal controls” to ensure that it did not occur again.

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