February 01, 2017


 AVMA makes strategic investment in AVMF

​Posted Jan. 19, 2017

Following a recommendation from the AVMA Budget and Financial Review Committee and the Strategy Management Committee, the AVMA Board of Directors at its November 2016 meeting approved a request of $450,000 in operational support for the American Veterinary Medical Foundation for 2017. The money will come from the Association’s strategic operating plan fund. This support is in addition to staff support (finance, marketing, human resources, legal) the AVMA currently provides.

As the charitable arm of the AVMA, the AVMF develops resources to advance the science and practice of veterinary medicine to improve animal and human health. In the past couple years, the AVMF has aligned its strategic plan to mirror the AVMA’s strategic objectives. The AVMF has provided products and services to AVMA and Student AVMA members, including veterinary student scholarships, Veterinary Care Charitable Fund grants for practice owners, and Our Oath in Action community service grants, and has supported research activities, including the Young Investigator Award. 

Under new leadership, the AVMA and AVMF staff have created new accounts to better track unrestricted, temporarily restricted, and permanently restricted funds, according to the recommendation background. Unrestricted funds are used to support the operations of the Foundation, while restricted funds largely go toward specific projects.

For decades, the AVMF primarily sought temporarily restricted funds from corporations to support special projects and activities. However, the Foundation is limited to using only 8 to 12 percent of this type of grant funding for indirect costs or administrative expenses, the background stated. In the past five years alone, the AVMF says it has spent $2 million solely on programs, instead of also supporting its own fundraising and administrative expenses.

“This fundraising focus on ‘temporarily restricted’ funds put the Foundation in a recurring pattern of depleting the ‘unrestricted’ funds to cover the costs of operations. Considering most businesses spend well over 50 percent of their operational expenses on salaries and benefits alone, the idea that the Foundation would be able to spend only 8 percent to cover all of its operational costs has proven to be an unsustainable business model,” according to the document.

Consequently, the Foundation was less likely to grow its donor base, as it hadn’t invested in its own fundraising capabilities, says Debborah Harp, AVMF executive director. If the Foundation could plan for consistent operational support from the AVMA, fundraising progress and program successes would be more likely, she said.

Harp also pointed out that the practice of a medical association, academy, or society supporting the operational expenses of its own foundation is not uncommon, as do the American Medical Association and American Association of Equine Practitioners. The AVMF has received financial support from the AVMA at various levels throughout its history. For example, from 1995-1999, the AVMA provided $500,000 per year to the AVMF for operations.

The AVMF plans to request consistent operational support beyond 2017; AVMA’s plans for that support are yet to be determined.  

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