Treasurer’s Report for FY2011

 Treasurer’s Report for FY2011
Dan Trefethen
SLA Treasurer 2010-2012
Chicago, IL   •   July 2012

Accompanying Slides

Two years ago in my initial treasurer’s report, I said that in order to recover from the economic downturn we must set sustainable budgets, with no deficits. 

I also said that we would probably experience, quote, “a recovery period that may stretch through a number of years, certainly through my term of office ending in 2012.” End quote. 

I would have preferred to be wrong about that prediction.  I wasn’t.   We are still in a recovery mode, as is much of the US and global economy.

However, much has happened in the past two years that has encouraged me about SLA’s financial recovery.   Let me describe some of the actions that have positioned us for recovery and growth.

Two years ago the Board of Directors reprioritized all services, and reset our association’s goals and objectives.  We made cuts to bring expenses down to meet the new realities in revenues.

[REFERENCE SLIDE 1 – STAFF BAR CHART]

We have paid a heavy price in loss of staff, from 28 three years ago to 12 today.

The remaining staff has been reassigned to support multiple program areas so that members would not experience a severe loss of service.  The staff has shown resilience and strength in reshaping the delivery of member services.  I thank them for their efforts to keep the association moving ahead.

This repositioning gave us an opportunity to balance the budget.  However, I knew that a few unexpected expenses or insufficient revenues would put us in the red again, so I approached the chapters and divisions last year and asked those that had the financial capability to consider sponsoring some key services and expenses.

[REFERENCE SLIDE 2 – UNIT SPONSORSHIPS]

We received a wonderful response, with 15 chapters or divisions contributing a total of $85,600.  Here are the units who contributed, and the items that they sponsored.

These contributions allowed us to keep the momentum going on items like the GoToMeeting software and leadership development, and also provided the funding to make needed upgrades to our information technology and building maintenance.

How much did these contributions help?  Let’s look at the financial picture over the past few years.

[SLIDE 3 – REVENUE/EXPENSES LINE CHART]

You’ll see that we had been running in a deficit situation for a number of years, with expenses exceeding revenues.  Some of these were planned investments, itemized on the chart, but it drew down our reserves so that when our revenues did not meet our expectations, it drove the deficits deeper.  We had to stop this trend.

Take a look at 2011, and you’ll see that the revenue and expense lines crossed over at last; I am pleased to report that when our 2011 audit is completed soon we will expect to show a surplus of three hundred sixty-one thousand dollars, before depreciation is accounted for.  That’s the difference you see between those two lines for 2011.  However, even AFTER depreciation is factored in on things like our building systems, furnishings, and computer systems, we still ran a surplus of one hundred and nine thousand dollars.   For the first time in a number of years, we achieved a truly balanced budget in 2011.

As you can tell, the contributions of our chapters and divisions made a big difference to achieving this balanced budget.  Thanks to them, we were able to uphold the services we supply to members, while proceeding to make necessary repairs and upgrades at headquarters to bring our information technology up to date, and assure that our building is maintained as our primary asset.

However, you will also see why I say we are still in a recovery mode.  The budget for 2012 is set as a balanced budget, but our projected revenues are continuing to decline.  So far, though, 2012 is meeting our budgeted expectations.   As we carry on we are looking for assistance to stabilize our income stream.

SLA members have always made it a practice to ‘pay it forward’ in helping the next generation of information professionals.  There are also two methods for individuals to ‘pay it forward’ financially to support all the services that the association has to offer.

The new Loyalty Club is our way of providing special acknowledgement of individuals who have supported SLA every year, through thick and thin.  You may make an initial contribution to the Loyalty Club at any time, in any amount, but also look for an opportunity in your annual dues statement.  Adding a contribution with your annual dues is a simple way to stay in the club and provide that consistent support for the services that SLA members need.  We will direct Loyalty Club contributions to areas of improvement that would be difficult to fund otherwise.  I am pleased to announce that for 2012, every contribution we receive in the Loyalty Club will be applied to upgrading our web site, which is our most prominent public face and the gateway to deliver many of our member services.

A redesign, accompanied by a new content management system, will set the proper tone for SLA online and position the site for future growth.  At the Leadership Summit in January I announced the Loyalty Club by saying that “SLA is so nice, I’m paying my dues twice”, and contributed to the Loyalty Club an amount that matched my annual dues.  You may choose to join me in that commitment, but we will gladly welcome a contribution in any amount, and of course you can adjust it each year.  Consistency is the ticket to stay in the club, not the size of the contribution.

I would also like to remind you that our association has always benefited from members remembering SLA in their estate planning.  This is a tangible way to support the next generation of information professionals, and we are grateful for those thoughtful and important contributions.

During my term as Treasurer the Board of Directors, the Finance Committee, and the staff worked together to meet a severe financial challenge, and we are positioned now to move ahead.  As you can see from the chart, we still have work to do.

We achieved a surplus in 2011 partly because we budgeted conservatively for a lower amount of revenue, and were able to exceed it. We hope that the same thing occurs with 2012’s conservative revenue estimate.

However, our actual revenues continue to trend downward, as you can see in the trend lines through 2011.  It is clear that the next part of our financial mission is to find more opportunities for growth.  Recognizing this, last year the Board of Directors developed a strategic vision that focuses on five major priorities to be implemented through 2014.  This set of priorities focuses on key aspects of SLA that will enhance the careers of its members while helping grow the association.  The Board crafted these priorities with the knowledge that we must stay within our estimated expenses for the foreseeable future.

However, the priorities also focus on some areas that offer the potential for the type of financial growth that SLA needs. In his address to you, President Brent Mai will tell you more about this vision and each of the priorities.

Since this will be my last public address as Treasurer, I would like to discuss one of those priorities. It’s one that does not focus on finances but touches the heart of SLA.  That priority is to provide a richer volunteer experience.

I have volunteered for SLA for over thirty years now.  From my first role as the business manager of our chapter newsletter to my current office as Treasurer, I have learned such diverse things as how to manage finances, how to plan and host a regional seminar, how to speak in public, how to run an effective meeting, how to use collaborative technology, and how to listen carefully to other people.   All of these skills have benefited me at work.  And of course, I learned how to work with a teleprompter, something that few people below the executive level get to experience at my employer, the Boeing Company.

My point, however, is that the volunteer experiences in SLA build your skills at the same time they provide the essential framework that keeps SLA running.  The Board of Directors will put a new emphasis on the range of the volunteer experience,  to offer even more skills to SLA members.

If I went back in time and told that twenty-four-year-old Dan Trefethen that he was going to be overseeing an annual budget of approximately five million dollars to benefit almost ten thousand information professionals around the world, he may have turned a little pale.

Well, OK– paler.  But I also would have told him, don’t worry.  You’ll be ready.  You’ll learn as you go, and be helped by wonderful people whom you wouldn’t have met otherwise.  Take the first small step, then be ready for greater ones. An organization like SLA is built and maintained by its volunteer members, and you and the association will both reap the rewards.

My friends, I would like to leave you with the words found on the Great Seal of the United States: “E pluribus unum”.  “Out of many, one”.  Many members.  Many chapters, divisions, caucuses and committees.  One association.

[REFERENCE SLIDE 4 – ONE SLA]

SLA President Brent Mai will describe the path forward for our association.  I hope you agree with me that if we work together as “One SLA”, we can fulfill our association’s goal to help each and every member achieve their highest professional aspirations.

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