When I do my personal budget, it’s kind of a conscience that doesn’t keep me from spending but makes me feel guilty about it. Developing AAPG’s budget is significantly different. It’s more of a conscience that guides the leadership in providing the best products and services for the best price.
Last fall, in considering next year’s AAPG budget, the AAPG Executive Committee – at the recommendation of staff and other AAPG leaders – recommended an increase in the dues from $75 to $80 for Active and Associate membership.
Historically, we always have been reluctant to raise our dues, and usually raise them several years after our sister societies; e.g. SEG and SPE raised their dues a couple of years ago.
As a member I always want to know why my dues increase. The basic answer is inflation.
Dues have increased only $3 since the start of this decade, and this most recent increase amounts to a little over a 1.5 percent increase per year since the last increase. During the past 20 years our dues increases have essentially matched inflation.
As in your own budget, when you are behind or at the inflation rate you must find other income sources and savings to make budget. We have done both by increasing income from events – such as the North American Prospect Exhibition (NAPE) – and cutting costs in almost every area of our operations.
For example, seven years ago AAPG had a larger staff. Like most of our member’s companies, we now have a smaller staff doing more. This has been accomplished by improved efficiency, outsourcing and, of course, continued improvements in technology.
For a society, communication is vital to success. The Internet has helped lower postage costs and significantly improved our efficiency in communications; however, it has not especially improved the quality of communications, i.e., I sometimes miss writing or receiving a well-written, well thought-out letter – but that discussion is for another time.
Another partial reason for an increase in dues is increased costs in some areas where costs traditionally have been low, or at least stable. Three good examples are legal, insurance and security costs.
♦ In the past our legal costs were related to basic operations and changes in the bylaws. More recently we have legal costs in new areas, such as protecting our (your) copyrights.
It is AAPG’s mission to promote dissemination of our publications, but in the digital age sometimes publications are not used appropriately and our authors lose their recognition. AAPG will defend its copyright if we feel that the publications are used in a manner that is not best for the Association and its many authors.
Recently, we incurred legal costs in meeting with the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control to discuss the legality of publishing certain articles originating outside of the United States.
There are often unexpected legal costs associated with developing a meeting. We currently are taking legal action against a local hotel and service ground operator who clearly did not honor their contract.
As AAPG opens new offices (Washington, D.C., and London, England) we incur new costs, especially legal and insurance costs related to developing an entity outside of headquarters.
♦ Insurance is another example where costs have significantly increased.
AAPG is one of the last major vendors of field trips. Field trips are a crucial component of our education program. In the past, all of our field trips were covered under our general liability insurance policy. Now, each field trip is individually reviewed by the underwriter to make sure it is insurable.
AAPG is doing everything possible to develop safe and insurable field trips for our members and the general public.
♦ Security is the third area of increasing costs. Since 9/11, AAPG’s security costs – primarily for meetings – have more than doubled. AAPG is committed to making sure our conferences and exhibitions are safe for participants.
Other significantly increased costs since 9/11 include the cost of hotel rooms and rental of convention facilities. Owners of these facilities are passing the increased cost of security and insurance to their users.
Some say that the budget is a method of worrying before you spend instead of afterwards.
We are “worrying” about the budget compared to the future needs of AAPG members. We are committed to keeping costs as low as possible, and to raising the dues only when it is absolutely necessary.
This dues increase is necessary, and it is good for the continued health of the Association.