I've always believed that one of the real strengths of Sabre's book programs is that, in every country in
which we operate, we distribute materials through a local partner organization. In several countries these
organizations were in place before our arrival, and they added their partnership with Sabre to their other
activities. In many cases, though, Sabre advised on the creation of a qualified local partner, to ensure
that books donated to us end up in the proper hands. Over time, many of these local partner organizations
have expanded beyond book distribution to other activities. In areas of the world that for the most part
lack a tradition of volunteerism, the growth of these nongovernmental philanthropic agencies may be
Sabre's most enduring legacy.
The pages that follow spell out in some detail Sabre's accomplishments during 1996 and 1997. I would like to draw your attention to two areas in particular: Sabre's growing activity with the Internet and other forms of electronic communication, and the widening geographic scope of our activities.
Kenneth G.Bartels, President
Sabre also continues to expand geographically. Programs were initiated in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Romania in 1996, and in October of that year Sabre was given recognition for those programs at a White House reception hosted by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sabre also initiated programs in Brazil, Ghana, Grenada and Mongolia, and worked on the development of programs for sub-Saharan Africa, the West Bank and Gaza, and Cuba.
As certain countries move up the scale of economic, political and social development, Sabre's program emphasis changes. In Poland, for example, book donations have been discontinued after twelve consecutive years; changes are bound to follow in other countries in Central Europe. This transition must be regarded favorably, and NGO work such as Sabre's played a part in it.
Sabre continues to operate with overhead kept to a minimum. In 1996, for example, books and other materials worth in excess of $8 million were distributed overseas with cash expenditures of under $400,000. Very few private sector firms can boast costs of less than five per cent of the value of the output they deliver.
Efficiency of this magnitude would not have been possible without the efforts of Sabre's staff, as well as the involvement of the publishing industry and the NGO community, donors of pro bono and reduced-cost trucking, warehousing and professional services, and the considerable assistance provided by Sabre's directors, officers and the Steering Committee of the Scientific Assistance Project ('SAP'). Special thanks are due to retiring directors Jeff Coolidge and Arthur Dubow for their judgment and generosity over the years. They will be missed. At the same time, I would like to welcome Len Baldyga, Chris Bayley, Bill Clinger and John Price to our board. Bob Stern has retired from the SAP Steering Committee, to be succeeded by his colleague Alan Luchs. John Archibald, Bill Lindsay and Roman Procyk also have joined the SAP Steering Committee. All of these new directors and committee members bring a wealth of experiences and perspectives to Sabre.
During the past two years, the Whitehead and Andrew W. Mellon Foundations were superseded as leading Sabre donors. Their generous support in Eastern Europe over the previous eight years enabled SAP to become a professionalized and self-sustaining program that can now render services throughout the world.
The Sabre organization was saddened by the deaths in 1996 of two strong supporters:
In 1997, Sabre lost three other valued friends: Maureen Drummy, of Washington, DC; George Meisner of Fairfield, NJ; and Nancy Dickerson Whitehead of New York City.
Finally, I would like to thank my predecessor, Anne Neal, for her seven years of distinguished service as Sabre's president. With firm hand and wise counsel, Anne led the Foundation through a time of unprecedented growth. We are pleased that Anne has agreed to continued service as Sabre vice-president, director and a member of our executive committee.