As mentioned previously, I am on the Reactor Panel for the Presidential Task Force on the Graduated Dues Study. My involvement pre-dates the Task Force creation from while I was a (physically present) “virtual member” of the ALA Membership Committee.
Without having access to the ALA Council III session transcripts I have no idea how this effort was reported to Council; transcripts would be so nice to fact check myself. However, blaming only me for misstatements and errors, from the meeting of the Task Force I attended, in my capacity as a Responder, I recall the following tidbits of information:
- ALA has spent the staff-time equivalent of ~$60K to determine feasibility of Dues study
- ALA is preparing to do a study the feasibility of a member dues structure based on salary or other structures
- Salary-based was one of several models
- Benefits-based tiers (names supplied in this post by me — I forgot what these were really called)
- basic membership=$=a member, only standard discounts on services/publications
- advanced membership=$$=a member, with extra discounts on services/publications
- premium membership=$$$=a member, receiving all services/publications desired at no extra charge
- Keeping the structure we already have (flat fee)
- Others were mentioned but I do not recall how they were described
- The financial hit to the Association of the Study
- Not known how much the individual pieces of the study will cost
- RFI to go out Summer 2007 (probably end of July)
- Consulting teams can bid on all or parts of the project
- If whole project is out of single-year financial feasibility, parts will still be done
- Some prognostications on costs
- I’ve heard numbers bandied about *for the whole project* which come in at ~>$600K
- The history of the project as I know it
- This project is a “member driven initiative”
- It came out of a Membership Meeting where there was a quorum (50+ members, I think)
- I’m told the major sponsor of this program (in the Membership meeting where it was passed) is SRRT
- Council told the ALA Membership Committee to explore this
- Membership Committee (when I was on a few years back) originally sent a report back to Council suggesting that the cost would be prohibitive
- Council told ALA Membership Committee to plan the study anyway
- The project turned into a BARC/Membership Committee Joint Task Force
- Which then turned onto a Presidential Task Force (by ALA President Burger, I believe)
- The Reactor Panel and the Task Force members have finalized the pieces of the project
- The RFI should be announced in late July/early August
Would the outlay of this kind of money be beneficial for the Association? I’m not sure; I feel more data is better than no data. The question for me is how would this affect the dues for the most people? I suspect there won’t be all that many people suddenly paying *lower* dues, and plenty of people suddenly faced with higher dues if ALA moves to a graduated dues structure.
A couple of points to remember about this project, the Association staff are not doing this to try to maximize dues revenue; this project is a direct result of a “member initiated initiative;” the timeline for this started at a Membership Meeting right after the quorum requirements had been lowered to a mere 50 people.
Would I like to see a graduated dues structure replace the current flat rate (with exceptions for students, financially challenged, retirees, support staff, trustees, and the other exceptions I’m forgetting)? I’m not sure. I feel that if, for the most part, everyone is paying the same rate we all feel like equal partners in the efforts of the Association. I would not want to see a class-based system based on perceived financial contributions to the Association.
We’ll see how this shakes out.