The HoD Leadership encourages you to be informed regarding the proposed changes to the Bylaws titled "Graduated Dues."
Letters from Delegates
Serious Issues in Opposition to the Proposed Graduated Dues Sructure
Until last July, I was AAPG Treasurer, Executive Committee Member, and Chairman of the Audit Committee, responsible for the fiduciary authority of AAPG. As a result of my experience in those offices, I have major concerns about the proposed changes to the AAPG Bylaws, related to the proposed “Graduated Dues” Structure. At the very least, it contains unacceptable financial implications and risks, and should be rejected by the HoD.
We will attract more members and do a better job of retaining existing members when we concentrate on how and what a global organization can provide better than a local or regional society. We should intensify our efforts on how "to be indispensable to all professionals in the energy-related geosciences worldwide", as stated in our AAPG Strategic Plan.
AAPG should not subsidize new memberships to anyone, other than students who are just starting their careers. To institutionalize this welfare-like system into AAPG's cost/revenue structure, with full voting rights to the subsidized members is grossly unfair to full-dues paying members. More dues increases on those that have the so-called "ability to pay", seems inevitable under this structure.
Discount members will NOT likely boost net income in future years, and the opposite is more likely to occur. AAPG will incur more costs than revenues, if say, 5,000 new $20 members pay in $100,000 per year and demand services that will cost many times that amount. Most of these $20 members will occur in non-US countries. US membership will perpetually be subsidizing these international members, and understandably, a lot of the US membership is unwilling to do so.
Here are the "Top Ten Reasons to Vote Against the “Graduated Dues Structure"
- Cheapens Professional Membership - This codifies an unequal membership standard at all professional levels in AAPG. Socialistic tax rate-like "ability to pay" dues structures have no place in a professional organization like AAPG.
- Dilutes Voting Rights - it is offensive to grant voting rights to members paying discounted dues, who have not otherwise earned those rights by achieving Honorary member or Emeritus Member status.
- Fails to Verify Income - We live in a world that does not share common values and definitions of honesty and integrity. To propose this without income verification system is a mistake. This is a "Trust and Don't Tell Us" policy.
- Unnecessarily Endangers Essential Dues Revenue - AAPG dues are the most essential revenue in our budget at about $1.8 MM, and to describe their "small" portion as 11-13% of budget, unfairly and inaccurately deemphasizes their critical importance. This is the critical revenue earmarked to pay the essential costs of the HQ staff and basic operations.
- Will Cause Member Conversions - The loss in existing dues revenue from this structure, as a result of the incentives to convert to a discount level, could easily exceed the revenue gain from adding discount members.
- Risks Tax Issues with the IRS - Timing a dues rate hike with this new discounted structure raises potential inurement issues with the IRS. The IRS provision for 501(c) 6 Business League organizations such as AAPG, states that it, “preclude(s) furnishing benefits for some members at special rates, at the expense of other members.” One complaint, regarding discount dues for some with simultaneous dues increases for others, risks the cost of an IRS review.
- Empowers Future Executive Committee Subsidies - The final sentence in this amendment gives the EC, not the HoD, the power to reverse the “digital products only” provision for the lowest dues category and restore delivery of hardcopy of the Bulletin and Explorer back to all discount dues members.
- Missing Sunset Provision – There is no expiration provision to automatically reverse this change if it has a negative impact on AAPG. The ability to amend this structure declines as discount membership grows.
- Ignores fundamental differences between SPE and AAPG - SPE's growth is a direct result of the fact that local petroleum engineering societies are local SPE chapters. Local and global societies are one in SPE, but not in AAPG. Most of their growth is unrelated to discount dues, but rather, to this major difference in organizational structure.
- Poor Transparency to Delegates and Members - Not shared with the HoD are the existing pro vs. con internal AAPG analyses. Key documents yet to be posted on the HOD website are: 1) the ad hoc Graduated Dues Committee Report, 2) the multiple-scenario financial analyses, 3) the tax attorney's written opinion on the inurement issue, and 4) the AAPG attorney's letters regarding voting rights and on the advisability of extending them to discount dues members.
Advocacy for a graduated dues structure comes from motivations to increase membership at any cost, regardless of the potential negative long-term financial and existing-member loyalty impacts on the organization. We must stop focusing leadership energy and time on dissolving our professional membership standards and dues requirements through bylaws changes such as this and become indispensable to the world's energy geoscientists by adding greater value to their careers. When we start focusing on value, the membership issue will be solved. Please vote "No" on the Graduated Dues Bylaws amendment. AAPG can be the world's premier association of petroleum geoscientists without it.