AIMEE M. FELKER, CRM, CA, SAA Treasurer (2009-2012)
At its February meeting, the SAA Council charged the Finance Committee to conduct the 2010 review of dues revenue and structure. The Finance Committee—SAA Treasurer Aimee M. Felker, James Byers, Becky Haglund Tousey, Dennis Meissner, Executive Director Nancy Beaumont, and Finance Director Tom Jurczak—presented the results of the review and recommendations to the Council at its May meeting. After careful consideration and review of SAA's finances, the committee concluded that a dues increase is critical to sustain the ongoing financial stability of the Society. The Council voted to propose a dues increase effective July 1, 2011. This issue will be presented for members' discussion and vote at the Annual Business Meeting in Washington, D.C., August 14.
How Will a Dues Increase Benefit SAA Members?
The professional landscape for archivists is changing. This brings both opportunities and challenges. In our own repositories, we understand the need to persuade resource allocators about the critical value of archives, adapt to new technologies, and develop innovative solutions that will diversify our collections and our constituencies alike. More than ever, a vibrant, energized, and financially stable SAA is needed—one that will continue to advocate our issues, advance our agendas, and provide the products and services that we need to do our jobs better. Members need SAA to:
What Impact Will a Dues Increase Have on You?
The total proposed dues increase over a three-year period is:
Retirees, Students, Bridge, and ID 1-4 = $5-$12 ID 5 and Associate Domestic = $23-$24 ID 6-7 and Associate International = $27-$37
Regular and Sustaining institutional membership dues would increase $53 and $66 over three years, respectively. These amounts, spread over the number of staff who benefit from their institutions' membership in SAA, are comparable to the individual membership increases. The financial imapct of the proposal on each membership category is shown in the table.
Proposed Phased-In Dues by Category, FY 2012 - FY 2014
ID 1 (salary < $20,000/yr)
ID 2 (salary of $20,000 - $29,999/yr)
ID 3 (salary of $30,000 - $39,999/yr)
ID 4 (salary of $40,000 - $49,999/yr)
ID 5 (salary of $50,000 - $59,999/yr)
ID 6 (salary of $60,000 - $74,999/yr)
ID 7 (salary > $75,000/yr)
The Finance Committee understands that members are being forced to do more with less. The committee was particularly sensitive to the financial hardships that members have encountered professionally and personally. Therefore, a three-year gradual approach to increasing dues revenue is being recommended. This will minimize the financial impact on members and ensure that any increase is sensitive to the needs of students, retirees, and those with lower salaries. This strategy will enable all members to anticipate the modest dues increases while also allowing SAA to budget effectively.
The proposed dues increase will not be fully implemented until July 2013, five and one-half years after SAA implemented its last increase in January 2008. Nevertheless, this increase will enable SAA to attain an appropriate ratio of dues to non-dues revenue and ensure its financial stability.
Why Doesn't SAA Just Simply Cut Its Costs?
The short answer is "We have!" During the current fiscal year and throughout the budget process, the SAA staff has cut expenses whenever and wherever possible, including cutting a staff position during the year. SAA's member-to-staff ratio is 506:1 (up from 347:1 in 1999 and 417:1 in 2006). Additional staff cuts would require cutting services. Face-to-face meetings of various committees and boards were eliminated in favor of virtual meetings. And all operating expenses were closely monitored to ensure coming in under budget. Further reductions in expenses would have an adverse effect on all services to members.
Membership dues are the financial backbone of any association. Regardless of the organization's size, association management best practices recommend that dues comprise 35% of total revenues. In SAA's newly approved fiscal 2011 budget, it is anticipate that dues revenues will reach 29% of total revenues. Therefore, additional dues revenues are necessary to ensure that SAA is not overly reliant on non-dues revenue for its long-term financial health.
In order to pass a balanced budget for FY 11 (July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011), the Council and staff cut the proposed budget another $16,000. Some face-to-face meetings were postponed and the mid-winter Council meeting was relocated from Washington, D.C., to SAA's home city of Chicago. Although these decisions will save SAA money in FY 11, they also compromise the Council's ability to advocate to the NHPRC, IMLS, and NEH for increased funding for archives and archivists or to strategize with NARA, CoSA, and NAGARA regarding other initiatives that may make significant differences in our professional lives. 1
Ultimately, the Finance Committee and the Council sought the most effective way to position SAA and to ensure that the organization and our profession remain vibrant. A dues increase is necessary and so is continued prudence. The SAA staff, Council, Finance Committee, and all other groups should continue to proactively monitor and manage resources, seek alternative funding to supposrt activities, and doggedly promote services and products in order to maintain healthy income streams. These structures, along with the modest and phased-in dues increase that is proposed, will benefit our profession collectively and each of us individually.
On a personal note, I joined SAA in 1989. My professional responsibilities have evolved from traditional archival work to records management. Although my daily work now focuses on active and beginning-of-lifecycle issues and records destruction rather than preservation, my professional identity and heart are firmly committed to SAA and the many professional colleagues whom I call friends. I hope you will join me in supporting the proposed dues increase and will continue to support SAA through your membership and continued active participation in roundtables, sections, committee and task force work, publishing, mentoring and membership activities, and meeting and workshop attendance. Without you, there is no Society of American Archivists.
Your opinions matter. We want to hear from you. Please comment on SAA's website or contact us if you have any questions or concerns about the proposed dues increase or SAA's finances:
Treasurer Aimee Felker: email@example.com
Finance Committee: http://www2.archivists.org/saagroups/committees/finance/home
SAA Council: http://www2.archivists.org/saagroups/council/home
Executive Director Nancy Beaumont: firstname.lastname@example.org
1 National Historical Publications and Records Commission, Institute for Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Archives and Records Administration, Council of State Archivists, and National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators.