Dennis Meissner 2016-07-11 13:00:40
Greetings colleagues! In my previous few columns I have focused on some of the strategic priorities of SAA, specifically our advocacy needs and the ground that we need to cover to become a more diverse and inclusive association and profession. In my final column, I would like to talk about our infrastructure, and how we might ensure that SAA remains a sustainable and resilient organization—one capable of delivering on its strategic goals. As a professional association we exist to carry out our mission, which is actuated in the key elements of our strategic plan. But it has been sagely (if wryly) noted that “there is no mission without a margin,” meaning that all of our professional objectives are supported by a base of resources that give true agency to our dreams. I would like to see SAA continue to progress from basic sustainability to true resiliency, to know that we can 1) bounce back from short term setbacks, 2) try out the occasional risky strategic experiment, and 3) provide sufficient resources to support all of our products, benefits, and services. Financial resources form the infrastructural base on which everything else depends. SAA’s financial resources are essentially a three-legged stool composed of member dues, annual meeting revenues, and income from the sale of educational offerings and publications. These three areas need to stay in balance to ensure stable finances.The recent dues increase helps to sustain the balance for the next several years, but we must always be willing to seek further increases whenever necessary to rebalance the association’s revenue distribution. Annual meeting income is extremely important to SAA and, to keep it in balance with other income sources, we need to select meeting venues very tactically to make sure that profitable meetings occur with predictable regularity. SAA’s technology backbone is a crucial part of our infrastructure. The recent migration to a more powerful and user-friendly web platform has created an environment that saves staff time and delivers a greatly improved experience to members. The next technological step will be the implementation of a new association management system that should, again, result in a platform that is easier to manage and delivers nimble and more powerful member services. Finally, the SAA Foundation, as it develops in the years ahead, will provide an increasingly important layer in our infrastructure. As its funds grow, it is poised to provide more scholarship opportunities, more grant-making capacity, and more “venture capital” to pilot occasional SAA innovations. Not only does this result in more mission support, but it also provides some relief to the regular SAA operating budget. So as we think about all the great things we can accomplish in executing our mission, I hope that we will never lose sight of the essential infrastructure that makes us a truly resilient professional association.
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