As promised, here are the PRSA talking points about the proposed dues increase:
• Last year was a challenging one financially for PRSA. We realized only a modest net surplus from operations.
• We anticipate an even smaller net surplus this year; basically, around the “break-even” point. This will inhibit investments in new products, services and member benefits, and virtually eliminate PRSA’s ability to cover any unanticipated expenses or losses on PRSA’s product and service offerings.
o For context … The total PRSA operational budget is $11.5 million.
o For context … PRSA’s operating margin is .4 percent (four-tenths of one percent), as compared to average operating margins in the range of 14 percent for public relations firms.
• The national Board of Directors, as you may know, engaged a Task Force to suggest ways to maintain the Society’s financial health in future years. The Task Force recommended that PRSA increase its member dues by $25 to $50. The Board of Directors felt that an increase on the lower end of that scale would help mitigate the financial impact on members, while still allowing PRSA to achieve its financial goals in 2012 and possibly beyond. For this reason, $30 is the amount of the increase being proposed.
• The Task Force’s rationale in making its recommendation was fairly straightforward:
o PRSA has not increased the cost of its membership dues in 10 years, even though the cost of doing business has risen over that time.
o Membership dues, which account for approximately 50 percent of PRSA’s revenue, have remained steady, but other revenue streams, such as professional development and Jobcenter, have declined.
o Over that same 10-year span, PRSA has increased the scope and number of benefits it delivers, and member satisfaction is high.
o PRSA also has been diligent about finding new ways to diversify its non-member revenue sources, and already has cut $1.5 million in operating expenses from its budget.
o An increase in the cost of membership is now vital to our continued reinvestment in the Society.
• If the Leadership Assembly does not pass a motion to increase PRSA’s membership dues, current financial projections show that PRSA will incur annual losses on operations beginning in 2012. Such losses cannot be sustained over the long term and will lead to cuts in products, services and member benefits.
• To help anyone who may be struggling financially, Members will have an opportunity to renew for one year at the current rate, assuming they do so by Dec. 31 of this year. PRSA also offers a Quarterly Payment Program that allows current members to pay their National and Professional Interest Section dues in four quarterly payments.