Perspectives on a Membership Fee Increase
Kevin Ryan, Director of Treasury, and Fred Carruth, Director of Membership
You are probably already aware that the EBM passed a motion to increase Membership Fees in February, and that when the OGM passes the same motion in June, it will become possible for us to put that into effect, probably from September 2015. Please check page 60 of the Sept 2014 issue of TLT for more background.
How Did We Get Here?
We haven’t raised fees for almost 20 years. In that time a lot of things have happened. TESOL, in the same time period, has almost tripled its fees. Here in Japan, many of our expenses have kept rising, while the increase in consumption tax has added to these costs. Please note that the last time we raised our fees in 1997 was the last year the consumption tax was raised. The 1997 increase in dues from ¥7,000 to ¥10,000 was larger in percentage terms than the current rise to ¥13,000. And yet, after the increase in 1997 we had no noticeable attrition, with membership numbers remaining steady. Sure, it was the tail end of the bubble, and JALT had its largest budgets ever, topping out at over 100 million yen, but we still spent more than we took in until we raised fees.
Since 1997, JALT has been streamlining, and so have businesses. Our revenue sources have significantly changed. Consolidation and slashed advertising budgets in the publishing industry mean that the portion of our annual income from Associate Members (publishers and other companies) decreased from about 35% of total revenues in the 90s to about 15% last year. Our annual International Conference continues to generate income, but we now rely on it for close to half our total revenues. If it were ever to be canceled—as we came so close to doing in Kobe two years ago because of typhoons—we would be in dire straits. Becoming an NPO in 1999 brought with it additional costs in reporting and managing records, but even as these tasks increased, we have greatly reduced the cost of the Central Office staff.
Our Reserves, or common Reserves, or “rainy day fund” are probably the best indication of our long-term financial health. When we have a surplus (it’s not a profit because of our status as an NPO), we put that into the common Reserves (our bank account that acts like insurance) and our Reserves go up. But when we run a deficit, and spend more than we bring in, the Reserves decrease. In the early 2000s we had our largest Reserves ever, at about 34 million. That was about half of our goal of one year’s expenses. In the years since then we have had more deficits than surpluses. Our Reserves are now down to around 20 million, slightly up from our lowest point since 2005 when we were at 16 million. Reserves that are much less than our operating costs are not good long-term planning.
Alternatives to raising fees have been tried and implemented. We have seen our annual budgets decrease from 100 million to about 70 million over the last decade and a half. Our budget for next year is 65 million. Reducing the budget means cuts in services. We have come to the point that trimming fat is no longer possible. For more information on the history of JALT Finances, (mostly graphs) see <goo.gl/vZVutZ>.
What Does This Mean? And, What Does This Mean to You?
Increasing Membership Fees will mean a more stable JALT—one that can bounce back from a conference affected by severe weather or a more serious natural disaster. It will mean JALT can look toward expanding and improving the services we offer, both domestically and internationally. It will mean that JALT does not have to rely on short-term solutions and will be able to collaborate throughout the association more equally and effectively to provide the best possible services to our members at the local and national levels. It will mean continuing our excellent publications, with room to move further online, gradually and intelligently. It will mean a smoothly functioning Central Office—one where any member can call and get information most business hours, from a real person. It will mean that we can remain an NPO, with the reporting and auditing expenses covered. It will mean we can maintain our mutual affiliations with other organizations around the world. It will mean we can continue to bring chapter, SIG, and other officers together for planning and development workshops.
To do all this, it is necessary to raise JALT membership fees across the board. For example, in addition to the fee for regular memberships going up to ¥13,000, SIG memberships will go up to ¥2,000. These fee rises are tied in with what we are hoping is just the first step in a restructuring of JALT that is currently underway. Contingent on the fee increases receiving approval at the OGM (Ordinary General Meeting), a motion was passed to include one SIG and one chapter membership as part of your regular JALT membership. If you want JALT to continue to be the vibrant organization it has been through its long history, please support these proposals and vote “Yes” online in the June OGM.
The significant changes which are leading us to raise membership fees have also made us realize that JALT needs to reinvent itself for the 21st century. Look for more on the recommendations of the Strategic Planning Committee in the next issue of JALT Focus.
2015年第1回総会開催通知 Notice of the First 2015 JALT Ordinary General Meeting (OGM)
- Date: Sunday, June 28, 2015
- 時間：14:30 – 15:30
- Time: 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
- Location: Hall, Yamanishi Welfare Memorial Hall
議案 / Agenda:
- 第1号議案 議長選出 / Item 1. Determination of chairperson
- 第2号議案 議事録著名人選出 / Item 2. Determination of signatories
- 第3号議案 平成26年度事業報告 / Item 3. Business Report (2014/04/01-2015/03/31)
- 第4号議案 平成26年度決算報告 / Item 4. Financial Report (2014/04/01-2015/03/31)
- 第5号議案 平成26年度監査報告 / Item 5. Audit Report (2014/04/01-2015/03/31)
- 第6号議案 平成27年度事業計画 / Item 6. Business Plan (2015/04/01-2016/03/31)
- 第7号議案 平成27年度予算 / Item 7. Budget (2015/04/01-2016/03/31)
- 第8号議案 会費値上げの提案 / Item 8. Motion to increase Membership fees
- 第9号議案 その他の重要事項 / Item 8. Other important issues
*An email containing details of the agenda, including links to the various reports that will be presented, and a link to an individualized ballot will be sent to you during the first week of June.
When you receive this email, please follow the instructions on how to complete the absentee ballot. It is important for us to have a majority of JALT members present at the OGM for it to be valid, and holding a valid OGM is necessary for us to maintain our status as a nonprofit organization (NPO). Fortunately, you can vote online by absentee ballot and be counted present for the meeting, as per the JALT Constitution.
Thank you very much for being a member of JALT and for your continued support.