Budget matters (noun). We sometimes marvel at the size of the AAPG and all of its moving parts, some of which are going in quite different directions. We have three governing bodies: Executive Committee, Advisory Council, and House of Delegates; three divisions (Division of Environmental Geology, Division of Professional Affairs, and Energy and Minerals Division); 12 Sections and Regions; more than 30 standing committees (with several subcommittees), and several ad hoc committees; and a myriad of services and products that are available to members, ranging from the BULLETIN to Career Services. Remember that the lion’s share of the work is provided by volunteers, who serve for any number of different reasons; their dedication really is most impressive.
In short, AAPG (we) is all things to all people (us).
AAPG has five primary sources of income: members’ dues (only 14 percent of the revenue budget), advertising in the EXPLORER and online, conferences and conventions (~55 percent of the revenue), education, and publications. The annual budget has grown from $11 million to nearly $18 million during the past seven years.
Running an operation this large and complex means that we must keep a watchful eye on the budget, and the AAPG staff does a superior job of this. Historically, our annual surplus/deficit fluctuates with good and bad years (see graph), and our goal is to maintain a rolling balance. Fluctuations in the budget are usually correlated with three factors: the income generated from the annual and international conventions, Special Publications, and the performance of our operating fund investments in the financial market. Unfortunately, this year and possibly next year are not strong years for the budget (see graph).
Budget matters (verb). We have lofty goals for increasing our services, such as more education; for international expansion, such as a local office serving each Region; for regional Distinguished Lecturer tours; and for holding Regional meetings similar to the current Section meetings. We know that these plans will be met, but we must temper the pace of attaining our goals with the reality of the budget. Getting costs under control and generating appropriate revenue are imperative in the coming years.
Given this scenario, what methods are the Executive Committee considering for addressing these budgetary matters?
In summary, although minor increases in these fees along with careful stewardship of our expenses will go a long way toward redressing the near-term budget deficits, for the AAPG to continue to grow and serve all of its members’ demands, we need to develop new, additional sources of income to achieve our goals … and that will be the subject of a future column.
Paul Weimer, AAPG President (2011-12), is a geology professor at
the University of Colorado, Boulder.
My co-author for this month’s column is AAPG Treasurer Jim McGhay. You might think this is a boring topic, but it is critical to all members and to the future services that the AAPG can offer.