House of Delegates approves dues increase

Dues to increase $30 in 2020 for AVMA members, up to $10 in 2021 and 2022
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The AVMA will increase member dues to allow the Association to continue offering services as costs rise, while avoiding drawing down its reserves.

The AVMA House of Delegates, during its regular winter session, Jan. 11-12 in Chicago, approved a $30 dues increase for 2020 and up to a $10 dues increase for 2021 and 2022. Currently, dues are $330 annually for regular members.

Dr. Arnold L. Goldman, AVMA treasurer, provided delegates with an update on the AVMA budget. From 2015-17, revenues exceeded expenses, but the Association was projecting a negative net income for 2018. The Association draws on its reserves to fund new endeavors, but those programs are then added to the yearly operational budget.

Dr. Goldman
Dr. Arnold L. Goldman, AVMA treasurer, provides the AVMA House of Delegates with an update on the AVMA budget. (Photo by Sara Beugen/Shoot My Events)

If dues remain unchanged, the AVMA would have an increasingly negative bottom line. Cost-saving measures, including program cuts, would be necessary to achieve a balanced budget, and the AVMA would have to tap into the reserves to fund operations.

"2020 represents a period of five years since last asking our members to invest more in their national professional association," Dr. Goldman said. "We are confident that the value of AVMA membership is and will continue to be esteemed by our members."

During discussion in the HOD Committee on Finance and Economics, Dr. Goldman said he had received various questions from delegates. One was why the Association doesn't increase dues incrementally every year. Dr. Goldman said the AVMA increases dues as necessary so members don't feel nickeled-and-dimed every year.

Another question was how big the reserves should be, to which Dr. Goldman replied that the Association wants to be prepared to meet the needs of new members with funding from the reserves. Other delegates noted the number of things that the AVMA does for specific segments of membership, but Dr. Goldman replied that veterinary medicine is a segmented profession.

Dr. Douglas McInnis, Oregon delegate, asked if the Association is seeing attrition among younger members. Recent graduates actually renewed membership at higher rates in 2018 compared with 2017, answered Dr. Kevin Dajka, AVMA chief products and services officer. He said the Association has been focusing efforts on meeting the needs of early-career veterinarians.

During discussion in the House of Delegates, Dr. Dick Sullivan, California delegate, said, "We find it difficult to approve a dues increase when we have a reserve fund of $45,764,000, which is 110 percent of our budget. Our focus should be on accelerating the timeline to increase our nondues revenue, not to increase our dues when we have such a current reserve fund."

Dr. Sullivan was referring to projections as of Nov. 30, 2018, that the reserves for 2018 would be 110 percent of annual expenses. The AVMA policy is to maintain the reserves within a range of 50-150 percent of annual expenses.

Dr. Goldman replied that the reserves should be regarded as a savings account, with the AVMA using earnings to fund strategic projects. If the reserves do well, the Association does not have to draw on the principal.

The AVMA is working on developing more nondues revenue, Dr. Goldman said. About 70 percent of income comes from member dues.

Related JAVMA content:

Proposal would increase member dues in 2020 (Jan. 1, 2019)