NARFE and Our Finances
NARFE and Our Finances
I’m convinced that NARFE finances are not what they ought to be. We rely too much on dues revenue and not enough on other revenue streams. I believe we must always have a balanced budget. I believe every dime we spend should support our primary mission of protecting our earned pay and benefits.
Let me touch on dues. Right now we rely on dues for something over 50% of our income. In and of itself that’s OK, but it is becoming a problem because of our declining membership. We lost 14,000 members in 2021 and at $48.00 annual dues that conceivably equates to a loss of almost $700,000. I say conceivably because many members are on multi-year memberships based on an older dues regime. We can’t forget those on dues withholding who enjoy a reduction in dues. So, we can see that we can’t rely on dues for half our income and assume we can continue to survive. Membership and our finances go hand in hand.
Also, we depend on asking our members to contribute beyond their dues by donating during our various fundraising campaigns during the year. We get postcards, calendars, and other such items to entice us to contribute. I do in fact contribute to these campaigns, but I’m not sure we should be nickel and diming our members to give even more. We do need to finance our advocacy efforts, but surely continually asking our members to go above and beyond should be revisited.
Another area of concern regarding our finances is our non-dues revenue. Fortunately we receive a considerable amount of income from our affinity partners. We thank them for their support, but I wonder whether we are taking full advantage of the numerous opportunities out there. Are there different partner categories we should pursue? Also, what are the other non-revenue sources available that we haven’t thought about or are ignoring? I believe the NEB, along with the NARFE staff, should take a hard look at additional sources of revenue we so desperately need.
Another area that concerns me is our expenses. We finally have a balanced budget, which we haven’t had for some years, and we need to make sure we always operate within our budget. But I’m concerned the NEB is not in the budgeting loop as much as it should be. The staff generates a budget and presents it to the NEB budget and finance committee for consideration before going to the NEB for approval. I believe the committee must be intimately involved with the staff in the budgeting process. Remember, everything we do must support our mission and “frivolous” expenses must be laid aside.
A final area of concern is our salary protocol. Most of our expenses go toward salaries and some of those are, in my opinion, too high. I know we need to attract top-notch employees, which requires competitive pay, but is our salary scale in line with similar non-profit associations, especially those in the Washington, DC, metro area? Should we paying an executive director north of $200,000 unless we see some real return on investment? Also, should we begin to look at the salaries of our officers? Do we pay adequate salaries for our two national officers? We need to look at that. Are regional vice presidents paid too much? Right now, there’s a lot of discussion about reducing the number of NARFE regions. Doing so could potentially reduce those expenses by half. Maybe they should be paid only a stipend for attending national meetings plus expenses for those meetings and travel to their federation meetings? These are hard questions the NEB must review. For far too long, we’ve kicked the can down the road and as the Region X Vice President I will insist the NEB take a hard look at this question.
Of course, the answers to all these questions depend in large part on communication with the field. The NEB infrequently, if ever, seeks input from the federations, chapters, and members about our financial situation. I’m sure we have budget and financial analysts among the membership whom we could consult to help us answer the tough questions. As the Region X Vice President I will seek out that expertise from within our region.
Our finances are not what they should be. As your Region X Vice President I will seek to implement policies and procedures to ensure our finances will be adequate for years to come. But I need your support to make this happen. A vote for Robert is a vote for NARFE!