From Your Treasurer: A Budgetary Explainer and Dues Discount Pilot Program!
Jill K Gregory, MFA, CMI
Every year at the AMI Business Meeting, the Treasurer presents the AMI’s investment and account balances, which typically total about $1 million. Then every third year or so, they follow up that announcement with a motion to raise dues. Having sat through many of these meetings as a member-at-large, I have often gotten a vibe from the audience of “The AMI has a million dollars, why do they need more money from ME?” In the following paragraphs, I hope to explain to you how the AMI’s budget is constructed and why a million dollars isn’t exactly what it seems. Also, a note: at the time of the meeting, our balance is at its annual peak, since all the meeting registration money has come in, but the vast majority of meeting expenses haven’t been paid yet.
The AMI has three types of accounts. All balances are as of August 31, 2019.
- Central Bank Checking Account: $135,830. This is used for operational, meeting, and publication expenses. Basically, this is the money that the AMI uses to run our day-to-day business and put on the annual meeting. The majority of our checking account funds come from member dues.
- Smith Barney (Short-Term Investment): $121,424. This is used for unanticipated activities and to fund projects that must be approved by the Board of Governors ie the Marketing Plan. The Board must vote to approve before we draw money from this account.
- Smith Barney (Long-Term Investment): $574,238 “Rainy day fund”- the goal is to never touch this. Best practice for professional organizations is to keep 50-100% of the annual budget in long term funds. $574,238 is 111% of our budget, so we are in good shape.
So, while the AMI had about $830,000 at the end of August, only $135,830 is available for us to use to run our organization.
The AMI has three separate budgets: Operating, Annual (meeting) and Publication. All budgets can be viewed on the HUB at https://hub.ami.org/association-resources/governance/minutes-and-reports
- Operating budget: our goal is to break even annually. In the past 3 years, we have come within 3% over/under of meeting this goal. For example, in 2018 our Operating revenue was $223,311 and our expenses were $224,140, for a difference of only $829.
- 92% of our operating revenue is derived from member dues.
- Major line items in this budget are: Association Management fee, legislative representation, credit card fees, board meeting costs, and website related costs.
- Annual budget: Again, our goal is to break even. Achieving that goal is more variable than our Operating budget, since meeting costs vary wildly, depending on the meeting location and hotel property. Some years we lose money, other we make a small profit. In 2018, our meeting revenue was $299,195 and our expenses were $296,688, for a modest profit of $2,506.
- The majority of meeting revenue comes from registrations, with additional funds from sponsors. In 2018, we had $34,500 in sponsorship income.
- Major line items in this budget are: food and beverage costs, Association Management fee, audio visual (including the digital salon), and speaker honoraria/travel. AMI tries to maintain a similar experience for each annual meeting as budget allows, but food and beverage costs for meetings are very expensive.
- Publication budget: Unlike other budgets, we do not look to break even.
- Our publication revenue comes from Sourcebook royalties and is typically $2500-3000 per year
- Our publication expenses come from publishing the Journal of Biocommunication (JBC), which costs between $5000-9000 per year, depending on how many issues are published.
So to sum up (pun intended), while the AMI typically carries $800,000 to $1,000,000 in our checking and investment accounts, only our checking account is available for the organization to use for day-to-day and meeting expenses. The checking account balance typically runs between $120,000-$200,000 depending on the time of year, and the vast majority of this money comes from annual dues and meeting registrations. Our investment accounts are used only for special projects and “rainy day” funds. Our Operating and Annual (meeting) budgets are set to break even, a goal which we met in 2018. Our Publications budget covers the Sourcebook at JBC and is not set to break even.
The Big News: Dues Discount Pilot Project!
Hopefully I’ve made the case that the AMI is running a very tight ship, with each dollar brought in being both valuable and carefully allocated. That said, the Finance Committee and the Board take member feedback very seriously. After the discussion about dues discounts at the 2018 Business Meeting, the committee considered all suggestions made by members and took some recommendations to the Board. The Board discussed which are most viable and with input from our Management company AMR, we are excited to announce a Dues Discount Pilot Project!
Starting in 2020, professional and associate members can pay for 2 years of dues together for a 10% discount. (Students are not eligible as they already receive a significant discount, and emeritus members already have the option of a half-dues waiver.) This will be a 2-year pilot project to determine if member retention gained by the program offsets the 10% loss of dues. We will report back to membership on the results of the pilot project.
If you have any questions about our budget, the discount program, or anything else fiscally-related, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!