Treasurer’s Report for FY2012
|Treasurer’s Report for FY2012
SLA Treasurer 2013-2015
San Diego, CA • June 2013
“Love, exciting and new…” These are the opening lyrics to the song to which I just took the stage. If you are familiar with American television from the 1980s, then you probably remember the show to which this was the theme. The Loveboat was a sitcom that invited viewers each to week to fall in love all over again. When you truly love something, every day with it can be exciting and new. Falling in love with SLA all over again and making it an organization that is not just exciting and new, but also vital and engaging, is what I want to talk about today.[Slide 1 – Ship]
We have just 10 minutes together today. I could easily consume that time by weighing you down with numbers. But I won’t. It is the job of the Treasurer, the Finance Committee, and SLA staff to weed though the dollars and decimals. It is my honor, as your new Treasurer, to stand here before you and tell you the story that these numbers, revenues, and expenses are telling me. It’s the story of an Association that has truly enjoyed some good times, rallied hard to weather some stormy financial seas, and is now embarking on a new voyage of self discovery and self determination. Let me tell you a bit about where we have been, where we are anchored now, and where the winds of change can carry us.[Slide 2 – ONE SLA]
It was just about a year ago that my predecessor and newly minted John Cotton Dana award winner, Dan Trefethen, gave his last report as Treasurer. He told you how SLA had gotten a handle on balancing its budget and cutting deficit spending. He ended that memorable speech with a single thought and a single slide. “We are ONE SLA”. Dan, I am proud to be able to not only carry your message forward, but to make it central to my own goals and objectives as SLA Treasurer.
It was by working as one SLA that we staved off the worst of the economic downturn. It was by acting as one SLA that we came together in an unprecedented show of solidarity and support – staff, units, members – to shore up our finances and fund necessary initiatives and programs. It will be by working as one SLA yet again that we take this tenuous stability we have found and turn it into a new day of prosperity and growth for our beloved Association. If you attended Saturday’s open Board meeting, you heard Diversity Leadership Development Program chair Julia Leggett talk about how even in our amazing diversity, it is our commonalities and the desire to come together in them that makes SLA so strong. It is in one SLA that the promise of tomorrow is most apparent.
Let’s look at where we’ve been.[Slide 3 – Spending]
Over the last several years, our Association drew a line in the sand when it came to spending. Headquarters has worked hard to not only balance its budget, but also to generate optimism-inspiring surpluses. Through staffing cuts, spending reductions, and reprioritization of programs they have shown us that they can do this. Our units, however, though generally doing well, have fluctuated between profit and loss in ways that have had at times unexpected and even unfortunate consequences on the whole of SLA. Again, as ONE Association, the fortunes of any single unit do indeed affect those of all the others and the entire Association. More on this shortly.[Slide 4 – Membership & Revenue]
Now as to where we stand . . . It’s an all too familiar picture these days. As I said, spending at Headquarters is down. That’s a good thing. But also down are revenues – and membership. This is not so good. In truth, these two factors, membership and revenue, are inextricably linked to our future. Without strong performances in both of these areas, our Association cannot survive. My friends, SLA has weathered the storm, but our greatest challenge still lies ahead. We have to reverse these downward trends and reverse them now. I am happy to report that our Association just received another clean bill of health in its 2012 annual audit. My focus is on more than just our current health however. I have my eyes on SLA’s longevity!
That brings me to my final topic… Where we are going. When I was running for this office, my theme was “SLA: Today, Tomorrow, Together”. It was by working together that we kept this ship from capsizing during the economic malaise of these last few years. And it is by working together that we will steer it to more prosperous waters in the years ahead. I said it before and I will say it again, we are ONE SLA. During our opening session, you heard Mike Walsh make a passionate and informed case for why corporations must rethink the way they do business. The same is true for Associations like ours.[Slide 5 – RE]
Here at SLA, we have re-aligned. We have re-envisioned. We have even re-invented. It has been a busy, bumpy, and yet exciting road. We have come a long way in just over a century. I charge you all today that if we want to see a bicentennial, my friends, then it is time we stopped, caught our breath, and took a hard look at how we function and deliver value to our members. It is time we RE-INVIGORATED. Where do we start? With revenues and membership. I have already called upon the Board of Directors to help me and the Finance Committee focus on these two crucial areas. Now I am calling on you to do the same.
In the weeks and months ahead, SLA’s Finance Committee is going to be re-evaluating the current budget to make sure it is practical, value driven, and balanced. President Deb Hunt, on the recommendation of the Treasurer and Finance Committee, has appointed a task force to brainstorm new ideas for revenue generation. No idea is off the table and we welcome yours. You can e-mail them to me directly. Do not be shy! Another group is engaging our corporate partners to look at new methods of collaboration and mutual support. And of course, a re-envisioning of the annual conference is already well under way. But let’s not stop there…[Slide 6 – All Hands on Deck]
We need all hands on deck. Unit leaders, we need you to focus on bringing in new members and retaining those wonderful members that we already have. Help your Association deliver the value for membership that makes being a part of SLA so worthwhile. Help us with your own good financial practices. Make budget creation part and parcel of what you do and watch that spending. We are going to help you. In the months ahead, watch for announcements of webinars to help you with everything from crafting budgets to monetizing what you do. We are in this together, friends. We are one SLA.
As a young man, I developed a love of politics by listening to great speakers and thinkers call individuals to collective action to improve the quality of life for the whole of society. As I look at where SLA has been, where it stands now, and where I passionately believe it can go, I cannot help but think of the words of one politician in particular. Jesse Jackson in a speech to the Democratic Party of the United States knew his country was on the verge of something big and he uttered a simple phrase that has shaped my own approach to time of change and uncertainty. “It’s moment time”, he said. “It’s moment time!”.[Slide 7 – Moment Time]
Right now, a lot of people will tell you that what SLA has and is going through is being felt by all Associations. It is almost as if this should assuage our concerns. But you know what? SLA is NOT all other associations. It is our Association. It is our home and it sustains us. It is time we worked twice as hard to sustain it. This is our “moment time”, ladies and gentlemen. The challenge is clear. I look forward to working with each and every one of you to seize this moment together.