For a membership organization, increasing dues is rarely easy.
Last year, SPJ raised its dues a little more than 4 percent, effective Jan. 1 of this year. For pro members, the annual membership fee increased from $72 to $75.
Under Article 13 of SPJ’s bylaws, the board of directors can approve an increase of 5 percent. Any proposal for a larger increase must go to the convention delegates.
A proposes dues increase wasn’t the most controversial issue at last year’s national convention, but there was some opposition. I remember some Connecticut Pro members speaking against it.
To me, the increase sounded reasonable. Here is the justification SPJ headquarters gave to members:
What was the reason?
Costs of nearly everything SPJ does have climbed since the last dues increase 10 years ago. Failing to keep pace could force the organization into a much more aggressive dues increase down the road. Furthermore, dues revenue is the easiest to predict – making it the least “volatile” revenue stream SPJ currently has. This is important in budgeting from year to year, and also in long-term planning (10 to 15 years down the line) for SPJ’s long-term stability and financial health.
The last change in dues, HQ said, was a $2 increase in 2002.
I am on the board of another journalism organization, the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors. (I am a former weekly newspaper editor.) ISWNE’s board had a similar discussion at our annual conference this summer. Dues had been at the same level – $50 – for many years. We realized we would have a new expense for insurance coverage.
The ISWNE board talked about a few possibilities and settled on a $10 increase for the coming year. The membership approved it.
I don’t support raising dues every few years just for the sake of doing it. But freezing dues for a long time at one level, as SPJ HQ noted, could lead to a large increase at some point.
I’d like to hear from opponents of the dues increase. What would you have done differently?