I often hear questions and concerns from members about their association dues. My responses to them may interest all members.
Perhaps the comment I hear most often is:
My dues are too high!
APA dues have increased over the years, but at a rate slightly lower than inflation. Our calculations show that if 1990 dues had increased at the same rate as inflation (CPI) over the same period, the current APA dues (less the $45 journal credit) of $181 would total $195.
For several years, APA increased dues every three or four years to compensate for inflation that affects APA much as it does your household budget. In 2000, the Council of Representatives decided that small annual increases at the rate of inflation might work better than having large increases every few years. These increases do not happen automatically. Council votes on this each August, based on current CPI data.
Many members choose to join a number of APA divisions, and many divisions provide journal subscriptions or other services as part of their member fees. APA collects these dues and assessments as a free service to our divisions, but in so doing the total amount due on annual dues statement grows significantly. Remember, this money goes to the divisions you support, not to APA.
To reduce the burden of the annual dues, APA offers members and affiliates a journal credit of $45 and $10 respectively, to reduce the cost of subscriptions to APA journals. Members also get discounts on APA books, continuing-education courses, convention registration fees and other consumer services.
APA also offers a dual membership discount for members who join other affiliated psychology-related associations and societies. (See Apply for dual membership discount)
I've heard that my APA dues are supporting a huge bureaucracy housed in expensive office space in Washington, D.C.
In reality, the real estate APA owns subsidizes members' dues. APA's two office buildings in Washington, D.C., return several million dollars annually to the association. In effect, this year our real estate investment contributes approximately $27 per dues-paying member toward APA operations--a ratio that will only improve each year as we get closer to 2012, when these properties will be fully paid off.
Many other professional associations rely on dues for up to 50 percent of their total revenues. APA's diverse revenue base, including publications, real estate and other ventures, means that only 16 percent of our total revenue comes from member dues. Close to 50 percent of the association's revenues come from our extensive publication programs, including print and electronic products.
Like most large membership organizations, APA faces competing demands from its various constituencies for the limited resources available to fund programs and services. Your Board of Directors and Council of Representatives do their best to sort out and balance these competing demands.
If you have ideas on how we might operate more efficiently, we welcome your comments. Your Finance Committee meets in Washington twice a year. Between meetings, we see monthly financial reports, keep in touch electronically and hold several conference calls each year to address changes in the APA budget and financial performance.
I wish I could pay my APA dues on the installment plan.
At members' request, APA's Finance Committee asked staff to explore the feasibility of an installment dues payment plan. The committee determined that instituting such a plan would be too costly and wouldn't be used by a large proportion of our members. The startup costs associated with such a plan would run between $180,000 to $225,000. Additionally, the annual costs for such a program would range from $131,000 to $172,000, requiring us to charge an additional processing fee for the service.
Moreover, many divisions must make annual financial commitments, such as scheduling a journal subscription, and rely on cash flow from dues at the start of the year. If members on a payment plan drop out mid-year, some division budgets could be devastated--for example, the division might have to pay for a full year's subscription to its journal, despite incomplete dues.
The committee also looked at other organizations to explore the popularity of such dues-payment plans. Of nine associations surveyed, only three offered a formal installment payment plan. One of the three dropped the plan because only 3 percent of the membership used the plan. The other two organizations have found that no more than 10 percent of their membership utilizes the installment plan.
The Finance Committee determined that with the additional processing fee, the costs to members using the service would differ little from what they would pay if using a revolving credit card account to pay the dues. Considering these facts, as well as the cost of setting up the systems to manage installment payments for fewer than 10 percent of our members, the Finance Committee recommended against implementing an installment payment plan.
We fully understand the vicissitudes of personal budgeting, and recommend the use of a credit card for those members who want to extend their dues payments over time.