Why SMART Dues Matter

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For every association there comes a time to take a deep look inside and clean out the closets, with regard to our membership dues structure, that time is now for PRSA.

In order to maintain viability and provide the resources PRSA is known and respected for, during the 2015 Leadership Assembly – PRSA’s annual meeting – we will be asking our delegates to vote to accept a new SMART dues plan.

The downside?  Not implementing this structure. PRSA is not asking for a dues increase. This is a structural change.  It’s easy to become complacent when the status quo appears to be working alright. Without a consistent, strategic way to manage our finances into the future, leadership will be limited in their ability to effectively guide the Society into the future.  There is a potential loss of programming, delivery of service and maintaining infrastructure.  Member value is tied to PRSA’s ability to implement high caliber programs, create networking opportunities and advocate for the profession. Funding of these activities must be dependable, consistent and adaptable to changing environments.

The Revenue Model Task Force was created to address a 2011 Leadership Assembly directive to research revenue resources for the Society after a hefty (13%) increase in dues took place. The Assembly wanted to avoid such large jumps in the future if possible.  The Task Force reviewed several potential options and looked critically at the many revenues sources to determine where changes could be made.

Our dues structure came into the limelight as needing an upgrade to ensure the Society and its leadership could move forward strategically and with fiduciary responsibility intact.  This led to the unanimous SMART dues recommendation by the Task Force which was presented and received favorably at the 2014 Leadership Assembly. Now is the time to act and make the recommendations reality.

This new structure prevents large single-time dues increases. In the past there have been increases as high as 25 percent.  These dramatic jumps can negatively affect our membership retention and ensures the Society has consistent, gradual change as needed instead of making dues increases in crises as we did in 2011.  SMART dues also keep PRSA competitive.  Based on the research done by the Revenue Model Task Force, if we tied our dues to the Consumer Products Index, we would quickly price ourselves out of business.  Likewise, moving toward a lower flat rate, which sounds appealing, is not fiscally prudent. A $199 flat rate would require a 25% membership growth just to raise $14 additional dollars. Membership associations do not increase growth year over year at that rate, and if we miss it, we have a major deficit. Additionally, we would still have to scale that up in the future.

PRSA’s leadership has taken great effort to critically assess how best to ensure the Society can continue top quality service delivery and programs with financial continuity.  SMART dues affords, excuse the pun, this opportunity without creating hardship on our members.  Support of this amendment is essential for the continued success and future of PRSA.

PRSA is sweeping away the dust of old, for a better approach that will long impact its ability to perform in the best interest of its members while maintaining the key role of the Leadership Assembly.  Support of this amendment is the first step to a healthy PRSA long into the future.

Jane Dvorak, APR, Fellow PRSA currently serves as Treasurer on the PRSA National board of directors and has served as the 2007 National PRSA Delegate At-Large; 2006 Western District Chair and 2003 president of the Colorado PRSA Chapter.  Jane received the PRSA 2010 Small Business Award and is a 2011 Silver Anvil winner. Most recently she was named the 2012 Swede Johnson Lifetime Achievement recipient. Follow Jane on Twitter @JKDJane.

About the author

Jane Dvorak, APR, Fellow PRSA

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