further information about the dues increase

ASA has provided three statements about the dues increase: one regarding revenues and expenses; one regarding revenue needs; and comparing dues to AAA and APSA.

Honestly? Sure, it is still hard for me to swallow the relationship between our dues and that of other organizations. BUT: however one ultimately assesses the dues increase–and whatever particular issues a closer reading might raise–I must say that I do feel a lot better about my professional organization than I did after I read the rationale for the dues increase provided in the last issue. Really. I mean this both with respect to the amount of substantive detail in the statements, and the overall approach as a serious, straight engagement with us as fellow professionals, members, and volunteers. I am grateful to Kate Berheide for her work here. If anything that I have myself said or done here or elsewhere happened to contribute to members having been provided with a considerably superior account of what the dues, revenues, and costs of their professional organization are, I am proud. I truly hope this ends up proving one step toward a broader change in which members feel the finances of their association are less mysterious.

(Note: There is one factual detail related to Pub Comm that I feel either needs to be verified or corrected, and I have registered my concern about this. I hope that matter will be resolved.)

Author: jeremy

I am the Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

7 thoughts on “further information about the dues increase”

  1. I’ve been digging through the budget numbers, mostly because I figured if I asked for them, I should look at them. I have some frustration with having to do my own adding of personnel and expenses and trying to group things to get a sense of what costs what. There’s actually a lot more I’d like to know in the details. But I have become convinced that the dues increase is reasonable.

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  2. Kate Berheid is to be greatly thanked and commended for putting together so much information so quickly. She has also consistently responded to private emails with good cheer when she could easily have felt defensive and embattled. I also imagine Kate got a lot of assistance from the ASA staff and from Don Tomaskovic-Devey, and so they deserve our thanks as well. As for whether a dues-increase is justified, I’m still not sure, but there is now a lot more information with which ASA members can make this decision, and this is very good progress. I continue to think that some serious governance reform is needed, and among other things, I’m uneasy about paying more to an organization that needs such reform. But the key thing at this point is for ASA members to read, digest, and discuss the materials that Kate prepared and I’m glad we now have such materials and that a new online forum was created for such discussions. Thanks Kate!

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  3. Lurker here. Many thanks for the information from Kate Berheid and the bloggers here. I went straight to the financial statements. Here are my quick takes; I would love to hear opinions and responses. I am probably missing something obvious, so please pipe in.

    1) The operating numbers reported in Footnotes do not match the income statement. There are probably good reasons for this difference. Not all revenue and expense items are necessarily “operating.” Importantly, a lot of the action appears to be occurring in nonoperating line items (investments and the interest rate swap).

    2) The income statement indicates that many operating line items actually increased from 2008 to 2009. Publications went down, but membership was up. The major revenue loss in 2008 was revenue earned through investment activities (over $1,700,000 in losses). Expenditures were down from 2008 to 2009, but program costs increased by approximately $75,000. Overall, expenses were cut by $400,000 or so, with the majority taken from Management & Governance.

    3) ASA’s balance sheet was in tatters at the beginning of FY 2009. It lost 40-50% in net assets.

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  4. Regarding #1, there is the same discrepancy between the revenue pie chart and audit reports as what emerged in my earlier exchange with Don T-D. My hypothesis is that the revenue chart counts the mandatory individual subscriptions as “dues” and the audit report counts them as “publications.” The magnitude of discrepancy (which is large) is about the same as what I’d expect from multiplying member numbers by the subscription fee.

    Note that even with the mandatory subscriptions not counted as journal revenue, if my hypothesis is correct, the journals still clear over $1M over expenses. My experience has been that many people have the notion that the journals are dependent on dues for their livelihood or otherwise a break-even enterprise; this is false.

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    1. Kate Berheide tells me that she will collect this information together and publish it as soon as she can. This is so helpful–three cheers for Kate!

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