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ALA/YALSA elections open today. On the YALSA ballot (a sample ballot is available), along with candidates for elected positions, there is also a ballot measure about dues. This is a proposal to determine dues rates according to the Consumer Price Index. If you want to know more about the YALSA Board decision-making process that led to this proposal, check out the document discussed by the YALSA Board at ALA Annual 2015.

We expect that some YALSA members probably have questions about this measure so the Capacity Building Committee of the YALSA Board put together a set of Frequently Asked Questions.

Why does YALSA need revenue?
YALSA needs funds to provide services and resources to members and to advance its mission. All of the revenues that come into YALSA are used for these purposes. YALSA is part of the American Library Association (ALA), which has a nonprofit, 501c3 status. As such, the organization can make a profit, but all of the profits have to be put towards supporting the mission and work of the organization.

Where do YALSA’s revenues come from?
Revenue from dues makes up about a third of YALSA’s total revenue. The other two thirds of YALSA’s revenue comes from key sources, like the sale of books, award seals and e-learning; the YA Services Symposium; ticketed events at ALA conferences; grants; individual donations; corporate sponsorships; and interest from YALSA’s endowments. YALSA does not get funding from ALA. Instead, YALSA provides funds to ALA in order to get services such as human resources, legal counsel, media outreach, and IT support.

When was the last time that YALSA increased dues?
In recent years, YALSA dues increases went into effect in 2006 and 2013 ($10 increases each time) following ballot initiatives that membership approved.

2006: Regular member dues were raised to $50 and a category for retired members was created at $20

2013: Dues were raised to $60 for a regular member and categories for non-salaried and advocate members were added at $25.

How does the YALSA Board make decisions about dues?
Currently, the method for changing dues is a two-step process, as dictated by the YALSA Bylaws. First, YALSA’s Board discusses and votes on the matter. Then, if approved, the issue goes on the ballot for a member vote. If a simple majority of members vote for the proposal, it passes. Past Board practice has been to bring dues-related matters to members infrequently, between every 5 – 10 years..

Why does the YALSA Board think it’s a good idea to tie dues increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI)?
Because the Board tries to only bring matters related to dues before the membership every 5-10 years it often means that the dues increases must be sizeable ($10 increases the last two times). Incurring the expense all at once places a burden on members. Moving to a CPI format will mean more frequent, but also smaller, more manageable increases for members—around $1 – $3 per year, if at all.

Because dues increases and category changes have been infrequent and there is no ability to plan for them, it has not been easy for the Board to do any long term financial planning.
In years when dues are static but the cost of living increases, YALSA is at a disadvantage, because YALSA has less buying power but still has to deliver the expected level of service to members.

How will tying the dues to the CPI benefit YALSA, me, my institution?
Small, incremental dues increases will be easier for members to absorb than large ones. In addition to making it possible to continue present services for members, small, incremental dues increases will ensure there are adequate funds for both new and continuing services for YALSA members, including any that may come out of the new, three year organizational plan that YALSA’s Board is working on now.

How much would YALSA dues go up every year if the CPI initiative is approved?
YALSA would use the Consumer Price Index, as measured by Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate dues rounded to the nearest dollar. If there is no change, a small change, or a decrease in the CPI, your dues would stay the same. For example, if the CPI initiative is approved by the membership, YALSA would use the 2015 CPI average to calculate dues for the 2017 fiscal year. Because the 2015 CPI average was only .7%, dues will not increase in FY17. When the CPI does increase at a rate that requires a dues increase we estimate that dues would go up between $1 and $3.

When would the CPI initiative go into effect if approved by YALSA membership?
If passed, the CPI initiative would go into effect in Sept. 2016, 14 months after the board agreed to put the measure on the 2016 ballot. If the measure fails, the board would have to reassess in summer of 2016, and another 14 months would go by before any action could occur, due to the annual ballot cycle.

What happens if the CPI measure isn’t approved by membership?
It is likely that the YALSA board would continue to put dues increases on the ballot every few years to keep up with demands and the rising cost of living and doing business. However, this could have a strong impact on the initiatives that YALSA is able to move forward each year. YALSA’s services are based on the association’s organizational plan and the feedback regularly received from members. They include: YALS, the YA Services Symposium, grant opportunities just for members, members’ only webinars, toolkits, advocacy materials, and more. To continue to serve the needs of members serving teens in the 21st century and to provide high-quality initiatives that support the association’s future focus, it is necessary that the association is able to have a reliable source of dues income, which is why a CPI aligned measure is an essential next step.

Who should I talk to if I have more questions?
Feel free to contact: YALSA’s Fiscal Officer: Linda Braun

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

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