The Dues Debate

November 14, 2017

Most of us would probably like to have dues remain where they are, but then again, most of us would probably prefer to not make a car payment or take a trip to the grocery store. Sadly, during the past decade cost increases have continued to add up while our membership has not. The result is growing expenses and shrinking revenues.

We have and continue to change programs, reduce staff, limit activities and have made hundreds of decisions to manage our expenses. At the same time, we have made investments in efforts to grow revenues. Training and support efforts focus on the skills and techniques to engage new members and donors in Sertoma. CELEBRATE SOUND Don’t Walk in Silence® events have been an effective way to raise new money from new audiences. We have expanded our efforts to grow, and to create new relationships so that we can allow more people and organizations to engage in our mission.

The results, though good, have not been enough to address the growing shortfall in revenue. Until we can build the participation of Sertoma members and engage new people and communities in these activities, we need to build a bridge to the future. That bridge is the proposed dues increase. It will not solve our problem or give us a surplus at any level. It will simply allow us to continue to support and strengthen our members and clubs. It will allow us to continue to work with new people and new communities to build support for Sertoma.

The Board knows it is not enough to just ask the members, the board as individuals and leaders must do their part. So while they are asking you each for an additional $5 a quarter, they have committed to raising $60K in new revenues each a year. That averages out to about $4,000 for each Board member to develop through new people and communities. So the real question in this debate is – do we stop here, separated from our future by a gap in our revenues, or do we build a bridge to our future and assure a second century of Sertoma service?

Club Dues – How to Manage with Other People’s Money

Since the announcement of the proposed dues increase, the biggest concern is the $175 annual increase for clubs. Clearly as a flat rate for clubs of all sizes, this is a concern for clubs with smaller revenues or fewer members. Unlike individual dues, which are the responsibility of the members, club dues should not come from the member’s dues. Club dues should come from the other revenues that the club generates through fundraising or other activities. In effect, you want to pay your club dues with other people’s money – not the members’. Much like costs for insurance, club dues are an expense required to operate. As a public charity, the club can and should raise those funds as a portion of their activities. Make this an opportunity to leverage your fundraising efforts to greater success.  Not only will it cover your club dues, but it will let you give back to your community even more!


67 Comments

  • Jennifer DiCenzo says:

    Just to be clear, what is the actual annual dues per person?

    • Merritt Whitley says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      Good question. Regular members pay $20 per quarter (a total of $80 for the entire year).

  • Anthony Magnotta says:

    Can we see your financial. I would like to know where our money is going.

  • Bobbi Rumsey says:

    I do not what our dues to increase. Our club must sponsor 2 – 3 fund raisers every year to be able to support our affiliates. It is a LOT of work to generate funds to support the Deaf and hard of hearing programs we have chosen to sponsor. Virtually all our club dues already go to national and it is frustrating that you want more.

  • Neal Thomas says:

    I will gladly pay national dues as a life member. Also have a line for voluntary additional amount.

  • Mike Findeisen says:

    Have the clubs with strong numbers been asked what their success is? If membership is decreasing, find out what is working. Increasing fees is putting a band aid on inevitable failure.

    • Steve Murphy says:

      Mke:

      We know what is working, not just in Sertoma but in community organization across the country. We have tools and strategies, that we know are working today in communities to engage new volunteers and raise money. The challenge is those tools and strategies are not “what we have always done” and require new approaches and new types of effort. We have worked to bring that to the clubs, including all day workshops that have been within a 2 hour drive of nearly 85 percent of our clubs. Yet only 4 to 5 percent of our members have attended. So it not a matter of not knowing or not sharing, but that we seem unable to get our members to respond or engage with these opportunities or strategies. We in fact presented an idea that would have not only avoided this increase and at the same time increase funding locally. For whatever reason, the members did not feel it was a strategy they could support, and as a result we now face the need for a dues increase.

      Steven Murphy
      Executive Director

  • Larry Johnson says:

    I really can’t support a dues increase for any reason.

    There is no help from the National Organization in the realms of membership recruiting and retention.

    I also believe that you have a database of past members that as far as I can see the National Organization is not utilizing.

    I do not see any branding of the Sertoma organization and I have to agree with some of the comments that I have read especially when the name of the Sertoma is not on the tips of Americans as know one does knows what we do or how we do it.

    I for one would like to see more training locally on Sertoma

    • Steve Murphy says:

      Larry:

      I appreciate your comments, but they are not completely accurate. For the past two years Sertoma has provided a targeted one-day workshop on how to recruit and retain in today’s volunteer market. Thought not provided everywhere, there was one of these Club Development Workshops held within 2 hours of more than 85 percent of our clubs. The cost for the member was about $30 to cover the cost of the food and drinks provided during the day. There was not actual cost for the training. And it was built on what we know is working in successful services clubs and other community organizations. Sadly about 4 percent of our members took advantage of this opportunity.

      We have and continue to push out a brand identify for Sertoma, but the challenge is branding works when all elements of the organization share in that effort. That is not just sharing in simple things like consistent use of logos and language, but in what we do as a charity. And though we are not a household name in the general public we are very well known and understood within the hearing health community.

      Sertoma cannot change the fact that society no longer values membership of all types as it once did. And it does make the work of our clubs more challenging. We have developed tools and strategies that we know work. But those can only make a difference utilized, and for whatever reasons we seem to only reach a very small number of our members with that help.

      Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts, and your service in Sertoma.

      Steve

      Steven Murphy
      Executive Director

  • Monica Fintel says:

    Thank you Steve for the responses.

    My concern is – what does national Sertoma do for each club regardless of size? yes there are training etc. However in this digital age there are multiple online free trainings on growing membership, brands etc. Sertoma is not unique here.
    You brought up larger clubs and not able to provide insurance for those events any longer. Yet the larger clubs that DO provide the 10K in dues obviously have larger events, that require larger time commitments, venues etc. If we must seek our own insurance-again what does National provide for us? While we have enjoyed the benefits of the “shared risk pool” so has national with our larger dues because of higher membership. I understand the “larger costs” but if National can’t even split the difference and we are footing the entire bill-what does being a member of National provide?

    I think the national mission of hearing health is extremely important (in healthcare field), yet this is likely also limiting the chartering of new clubs. I believe there is room to support more than one mission. *I fully support Annual fund and have for a few years.

    Also-where is the national recognition for our fundraising efforts? Where is the link to show what the local clubs have raised and what was provided? This would be a great addition to this website.
    Where are the national ads?

    You brought up: As we each consider the impact of this increase on the charities we support, a question to ask is where does Sertoma rank as the national charity I belong too?

    The answer, for me currently, is “I don’t know”. I do think the raised dues will mortally wound smaller clubs, diminishing membership further.

    Again-thank you for your responses to the questions posed. Really appreciate the information.

  • Monica Watts says:

    I don’t doubt there is a decline in funds and a need for more revenue. What bothers me is the fact that we don’t receive the actual numbers so we can cast an informed vote. Telling people to go get the 990 to find out when you are fully aware the service costs $125 is less than transparent. I’ve got the 990 and I’ll be happy to share the information with anyone from any other club. My name is Monica Watts, I’m in Highlands Ranch, CO. I’m in the phone book and the Sertoma Directory, I’m a member of Dry Creek Sertoma. Contact me and a copy is yours.

    • Steve Murphy says:

      Moncia:
      I went to Guidestar today, and was able to review the 990s for no cost. Yes they have a service for a fee but unless you are using that service for more than viewing a 990 you can do that by creating a free account. But members can also request the 990 from headquarters.

      Steve
      Steven Murphy
      Executive Director

      • Monica Watts says:

        Thanks Steven,

        I’ll be sure to pass that information on to all the clubs in my district. I wasn’t looking forward to printing a 32 page document for each of them.

        I don’t know why it wouldn’t let me do that? This isn’t the first time I’ve had the issue, nor is it the first organization who’s information I’ve had difficulty accessing. I used to be able to get in easily a few years ago. Perhaps it’s an issue unique to my server or something. I ended up having another non-profit organization I work with send it to me.

  • Nathan Posten says:

    Steve, I want to start by thanking you for setting up this page and allowing part of this debate to happen openly, as it should.

    I am incredibly troubled by what I am reading though; mostly because, as the opening message says, this “…will not solve our problem…”. The issues that created this situation have not, to my knowledge, been addressed. Raising dues as a stop-gap and hoping for increased membership is not solution. Simply put, hope is not a tactic.

    I’ve read through all the comments and replies on this page and I’m frankly astonished. According to one reply, Sertoma nationals has seen this coming for at least 15 years and responded by cutting operational expenses (which good), but at no point prior to now made any plans on how to address this for the long term. This indicates that it isn’t an individual’s fault, but illustrates a systemic failure of problem solving and progressive thinking on the part of the national organization.

    For a number of years nationals has seen declining membership while clubs in the Springfield area have seen increasing (or at least stable) membership and been chartering new clubs. As a group, the Springfield area clubs have nearly 300 members and charitable revenues around $500K annually. We’ve built events and a brand that is recognized throughout the region. And we’ve done all of this while our insurance is being cut, new charters are being made more difficult, support from nationals has been limited, and now we face a potential increase in dues.

    To be clear this isn’t about the money. It’s unlikely that $5/quarter is going to bankrupt anyone. It is about the failure to recognize and address the challenges that the individual clubs and members face. My Netflix bill recently increased, but they didn’t cut the number of movies I have access to. My car insurance rates went up, but they didn’t cut my coverage. Nationals is asking for an increase in dues, while cutting insurance for our events, failing to help with member recruitment by developing a recognizable national brand, etc.

    Steve, you know what Sertoma means to the Springfield area. Springfield Sertoma, Heart of the Ozarks, Queen City, HOLA, Play, Tri-Lakes, 4C, Stockton…these folks are busting their butts to help disadvantage kids. We face enormous challenges in our communities and are doing our best to address them. These clubs do have an amazing brother/sisterhood and we absolutely recognize the difference we make together – as pieces of a larger whole. Help us feel like nationals is in it with us and not a drag on our efforts.

  • Charles Corbin says:

    What is the voting process on this proposed dues increase? Will each member be able to vote?

    • Steve Murphy says:

      Yes, as with all votes of the members all members get a vote, and each club gets one vote. Those votes for members are done on-line, clubs vote by ballot based on the vote of the Board.

      Steve
      Steve Murphy
      Executive Director

  • Harvey LeCato says:

    STAN SCHULZ————-

    A change to Life Membership dues is potentially on the way…………

  • Roy Yeaman says:

    Yes you can retrieve the 990 info from GuideStar for a $125 Fee. Does Sertoma Inc have a subscription the clubs can use.

    • Steve Murphy says:

      Guidestar also allows access to organizations 9909s by creating a free account. If you intend to, or need to pull additional information or access multiple charities there is a fee based service. Of course you can always request a 990 from headquarters.

      Steve
      Steve Murphy
      Executive Director

  • Theodore 'Carlos' Simpson says:

    I don’t understand the flat increase in club dues at all. If we’re paying the same about as other clubs, are we getting the same services as other clubs; including but not limited to; in person visits from members at National Headquarters to our individual clubs, to build and maintain relationships with the people who are paying these fees. I personally don’t feel that my particular club is receiving much from national headquarters, and I have not received a single lobbying phone call, email, or any in person visit from any member at national headquarters. So with that said, what exactly are we getting in return for the increased rate, that is along the same lines as larger clubs, in particular, larger clubs that are located near the Kansas City area?

  • Lonnie Malatino says:

    Does the extra $5 ($25) dues start with the December 31st Quarter billing?

    • Steve Murphy says:

      If approved, it will take affect on July 1, 2018.

      Steve
      Steve Murphy
      Executive Director

  • Diane Warholic says:

    I am a lifetime member of my college alumni group. They have asked us many times to make a donation to help defray the rising costs of operating the association. I think many Sertoma life members would consider a donation if asked.

    • Cheryl Chern says:

      Thank you Diane for bringing this up. We have a task force made up of life members looking into your suggestion. Thanks for your support. Cheryl Cherny, Sertoma Inc. President 2016-2017

  • Jim Weiss says:

    I still feel that creating a nationally recognized BRAND for Sertoma would significantly help us recruit new members, the ultimate solution.

    I have a personal friend who owns an agency that is an expert in branding.

    Are you willing to listen to other ideas from an outsider?

    • Steve Murphy says:

      Jim:
      We have a marketing company that we utilize to build brand and awareness. The focus is on building the brand for hearing health as the charitable mission of the organization. This is an area where Sertoma is well recognized even in parts of the country where there are no Sertoma clubs. But building a brand also requires a consistency of message and look and that has been a challenge. Sertoma clubs, even Districts and Regions create websites and publications that don’t meet even the basic graphic standards for use of the name and logo.

      Steve
      Steve Murphy
      Executive Director

  • Michael L. Brown says:

    “What do we get from National?” seems to be an overarching consideration for many members. Of course there is the shared insurance (now diminished), IRS not-for-profit status, branding, training, and shared mission activities. Executive Director Steve Murphy states, “[I]n the end, we belong because we believe in what we share and value, in the difference being part of the whole can make.” Yes, that feeling of belonging and taking part in a greater cause is very important, yet the question of accountability remains. The National leadership (of which I am a part) has certain expectations of the membership, and the Sertoma members have their own expectations of National. Are these sets of expectations aligned for the most part, or are there significant disconnects that need to be addressed? A dues increase debate seems as good a forum as any to flush out — and flesh out — the differences, so I encourage anyone following this conversation to get their viewpoints and concerns out on the table.

    Michael L. Brown
    Director at Large

  • Charles (Chuck) Learn says:

    November 20 2017

    Here in Niagara falls we have very few members of which many are on the fence as to whether to stay or not to stay a member. Raising dues will surely make that decision not to stay. Most all of our members are Senior Citizens on fixed income. We were on the hinge of closing down before, raising dues will surely finish the job.

  • Ruth Anne Hickerson says:

    Is the flat fee the clubs pay increasing $175 (doubling) in addition to the $5/qtr/member increase? I’m sorry if this was announced earlier, I missed it.

    • Steve Murphy says:

      Yes, that is correct. Part of that decision rest on the fact that a club can pay dues from the funds it raises, as the maintaining the Charter is an essential and required cost to operate as a Sertoma club. This way the increase was not only the responsibility of the individual members directly.

  • Stan Schulz says:

    Does the dues increase have any impact on Life Memberships?

    • Steve Murphy says:

      No, life members are not impacted by the dues increase.

  • Rick Griminger says:

    The question is what do you spend the money on. Can’t you seek grants from Major corporation sponsors?

    • Steve Murphy says:

      The dues paid by the members goes toward the support of our members and operating our charitable programs. This includes everything: all communication efforts, printed and digital (Sertoman, Digest, websites, and email news services), training at the Club Development Workshops, conventions, and all on-line resources, support of the Governors, Board of Directors, FDRs and certified trainers. All the scholarship and granting programs, which include the Affiliates, all the hearing health programs, as well as our fundraising efforts.

      As to corporate support, we do get some. But corporations do not as a practice support operations and/or indirect expenses of charities. They like to support direct costs for programs, such as money for scholarships, or as sponsors for fundraising events.

      A short answer to a question that requires a longer answer, but feel free to contact headquarters for more details on the use of funds.

      Steven Murphy
      Executive Director

  • Patrick Wainscott says:

    I have been a Sertoma member since 1984, and a member of other professional organizations. I understand the cost of doing business has increased, and Sertoma National may need additional money to continue their worthwhile programs; however, I’ve also found that just adding money to an existing problem is not the solution. The problem is and will always be recruiting new members and retaining existing members. The obvious is that more members mean more money. Money allows programs and all the other things that a National organization can provide. My question is: So that we don’t have a similar proposal next year or 2 years, what plans are being discussed regarding recruitment and retention? Do you plan to contact the successful clubs and see what they are doing right, which allows them to grow and prosper? Maybe that information could better be shared among the Sertoma clubs, with the help of National. Maybe some of the money collected could be used for shared advertising costs with the clubs, to help them showcase their sponsorships and promotions in their communities.
    And, maybe the grant money for clubs for Speech & Hearing projects could be reinstated. I’m not against the small increase but I would like it to be used to help Sertoma return to what it was.

    • Steve Murphy says:

      Excellent points. First, there is a targeted program provided through the Club Development Workshops that has an entire focus on how to be more effective in recruiting and retaining members in this century. The techniques and information in that whole day workshop align exactly with those being used not only by growing Sertoma clubs, but all types of organizations. Included in that workshop is how to effectively get out the club’s message. Though advertising is an option, it is not a very effective option. Sertoma and its clubs will never every have the dollars to compete with the amount and level of commercial marketing. The focus of that and other work with the clubs is to help them focus on their own growth. In addition, the Board has taken on the challenge to directly grow Sertoma in new communities through new relationships, so the growth effort is not all focused on the current clubs and members.
      WE still have the grants program for speech and hearing projects. Though no longer a matching grant, they are still only given to organizations recognized as a Sertoma Affiliate. Every club can as in the past identify a community partner and support them as an Affiliate, and access the grant program to support the needs of the Affiliate.

      Steven Murphy
      Executive Director

      • Patrick Wainscott says:

        Thankis for your reply to my comments. I was not aware of a location where recruitment methods could be shared but will take a look at it. I instituted a program when I was President in 1994 called SHARP (Sertoma Hearing Aid Recipient Program) where we provide new, in-the-ear hearing aids to those that cannot afford to buy them. We recently talked with the local fire department and are progressing toward adding smoke detectors for the hearing impaired to our program. I talked with someone in Sertoma National about a possible grant for our club to help us with this project and was told clubs were not eligible to receive grant money any longer. Our program is very successful, mostly because we have licensed, professional Audiologists on our SHARP committee, who provide free fittings and follow-up to our SHARP patients for 1 year. I’m open to any suggestions. If you would like to call me directly my office number is 419.229.1955.

    • Michael L. Brown says:

      In the past the Community Grants were available to the clubs, who had to raise $2 for every $1 of grant money. Since the total grant money applied for nationally usually exceeded that available, successful grants often were not allocated the full amount requested. Today the grants are handled through the Sertoma Affiliates, who write the grant proposals and receive 100% of the requested grant, if approved. Affiliates, being not-for-profits, often have professional grant writers on staff. One problem with the earlier program was that a club could write what it thought would be a successful grant, and then when the grant was turned down, the club would get mad and cease contributing to the Annual Fund. One advantage of the earlier arrangement was that $3 went to serve community needs for every $1 that came out of the grant monies available from the Annual Fund. Perhaps leveraging could be incorporated into the current program in order to increase the likelihood that the grant will be approved (i.e., give points for the level of leveraging) and spread the available grant monies among more grants. For example, if a club’s Affiliate were to apply for a $5,000 grant with one-for-one matching from the club (i.e., $2500 from the Annual Fund and $2500 from the club), that would make $2500 available for other grants, versus the current practice of paying the entire amount from the Annual Fund.

      Michael L. Brown
      Director at Large

  • Terry Cuthbertson says:

    For how long have we been in the red?
    When was the board informed about the short fall?
    We were at the last National meeting and nothing was said at that time about any short fall.

    • Steve Murphy says:

      As you may recall, when we have done previous dues increases, we set aside money from each year to help deal with increasing costs (inflation) and the trend in membership loss. So the Board has been well aware that we were rapidly working down that reserve money and when gone we would have a deficit budget. This is the year that we reached that point in our balance of our current and set aside dues from previous years. We had planned to avoid this by growing the use of CELEBRATE SOUND as a means to generate revenues from philanthropy rather than a dues increase. Even the small amount of operating support that comes from that event could have prevented, or greatly reduced the amount of this increase. Sadly, for whatever reasons, the members did not adopt the event, and while similar events have proven to be the largest growth in individual giving in the US during the past 8 years, we missed that opportunity.
      So in hope that we might be able to grow the event, the Board did delay this increase by two years, which pushed us to a much tighter position, than if we had addressed the increase on the five year schedule. The good news is Sertoma has a very strong balance sheet, and if the members pass this increase, it gives us another opportunity to grow the and diversify our revenues to assure another century of Sertoma service.

      Steven Murphy
      Executive Director

  • Jim Weiss says:

    A dues increase is like a tax increase. It costs member more to be a Sertoman. I am not sure the dues increase is justified, but I am willing to be informed. Educate me as to the amount of money currently spent. Show me your past years’ financial statement as well as your budget for the next several years. This will help me to determine if you should increase revenue, or cut costs.

    Perhaps you should evaluate the benefit of all the services you provide. Maybe some services are not needed by local clubs. Other services provided are a continuation of business as usual. Frankly, when I look at what we get from Sertoma Headquarters in terms of what we pay, I am hard pressed to justify the expense. Do you use “zero based budgeting” each year, or do you increase or decrease each budget category based on projected new costs?

    Don’t misunderstand. I like being a member of a national organization with the associated prestige. Which brings me to another continuous agitation – being asked what is Sertoma? I have been a member of Tampa East Sertoma for more than 30 years. Considering the number of clubs in this area, I am amazed at the lack of public recognition of the impact we have on our communities around the nation. I think the number one priority for Headquarters is to build the Sertoma brand. Hire a professional who can help with branding. Make Sertoma a well-recognized national brand. This will not be done overnight, but the long-term benefit is worth the effort to survive. When asked, “What is Sertoma?”, I am embarrassed to answer, “We are a civic club like Rotary, or Kiwanis, or Lions.”

    So, show me your financial reports and budgets, and I will look for cost savings by cutting services which are not necessary, too costly or unaffordable for a smaller organization. As club membership declines, so too should the cost of overhead needed to support members. Increasing dues is like raising taxes during an economic recession – exactly the wrong thing to do.

    Finally, I want to thank you for asking my opinion. I will now wait to see if it really matters to anyone in Kansas City.

    • Steve Murphy says:

      I will see that we send you financial information to review. During the past 15 years as membership declined, we have made continuous cuts to the operation, and made changes to program and service offerings consistent with the needs of the organization. The only programs we have tried not to touch are our scholarships and grants, which are our primary philanthropy as a national charity.
      We have and continue to work on brand awareness, but there are challenges. Unlike the organizations you mention, Sertoma members have always had more autonomy in how or if they present the organization. Clubs, districts, and the regions created logos, marketing phrases and other materials none of it coordinated or consistent with successful strategies to build a national brand. That is not a privilege that was or is allowed with other service clubs. IN addition, even at our height of members, Sertoma was about the size of a district for most of the larger organizations. By shear size alone, those groups are always the known service clubs. We do have professionals working on brand identify, that effort is limited by our size and budget, and focuses on our mission of hearing health.
      I, along our board members, will be happy to discuss these issues at anytime.

      Steve Murphy
      Executive Director

      • Dennis Faulkenberg says:

        Why do you have to “send” him the financial information to review? That is precisely what I came to the website to see and I cannot find financials anywhere. Seems like quite a lack of transparency when you are asking for a 25% increase in our dues.

  • John Lambert says:

    Please clarify your apparent suggestion that dues paid by clubs can be funded from exempt-purpose revenues. Our club pays all dues only from our non-exempt purpose operating fund (e.g. from member dues).

    • Steve Murphy says:

      First I need to clarify, that a Sertoma club has no “non-exempt” purpose. As a 501(c)c(3) charity, your funds are all considered exempt, unless you happen to have some unrelated business income expenses, which means you are paying tax on those revenues. All sources of revenues and expenses of a club, be they for management/operations, fundraising or programs are exempt. The issue is from which revenues can a club pay its dues, which are separate from the individual member dues.
      Individual member dues paid to Sertoma are not paid by the club, those are paid by the individual member. The club is collecting and passing those payments on to Sertoma on behalf of the members. Those cannot be paid for by the club. That would be a violation of the use of exempt funds as it would be providing an individual a personal benefit. However, the club can and should pay for its dues from revenues it generates beyond individual member dues, from fundraising or other revenue generation efforts.

      Steven Murphy
      Executive Director

      • John Lambert says:

        We charge our members monthly dues that cover the cost of our weekly lunchs, social events and our payment of quarterly dues to Sertoma organizations (KC, Region and District). This our ‘operating fund’ – from which members clearly derive ‘personal benefits’.

        All other revenues (e.g. from donations received and casino party fees) and expenses go through our ‘sponsorship fund’ – the net proceeds of which fund our donations to other 501(c)(3) organizations.

        It does not look like we are ‘collecting and passing individual member dues’ to Sertoma. (For us the club dues are an insignificant expense.)

        Amy – are we not structured properly? It’s been this structure for decades according to our financial records. Are we allowed to pay Sertoma dues from our sponsorship fund rather than our operating fund?

        • Steve Murphy says:

          John:
          You can pay for the club dues from monies raised through fundraising as it is a legitimate expense of the club as a charity. Just as you could pay for the cost of fundraising registrations. Many charities don’t have dues revenue, so they pay nearly all their expenses from monies raised. You cannot pay for the dues of an individual member (club or national) as that is not be an expense of the club. Your accounting system should allow you to keep track of restricted and non-restricted funds and how they are used. The issue is that funds raised can pay other legitimate expenses beyond the direct expense of the fundraising.

          Steve

  • mike marshall says:

    the $175 increase should not be levied to SERTEEN clubs or clubs of less than 20 members.

    • Steve Murphy says:

      The Board is very aware that the club dues increase is a larger percentage of budget on smaller clubs. But Sertoma has no way to create a tiered club dues based on club size. That would require the members approving a new membership definition or structure. But the feeling is that passing the cost along to the individual members in the form of a larger individual dues increase was not the best solution. Better to allow the members to generate the funds from other fundraising or other activities. It would seem that even for a small club, most would not see another $175 dollars in fundraising much of a cost for the value a club brings to the community. To note: the dues increase has no impact on a Serteen club.

      Steven Murphy
      Executive Director

  • Roy Yeaman says:

    Sertoma presented their plan for the future to our club at our regional convention last year. It was the most horrible presentations I have ever witnessed. I was embarrassed for the few new members that were in attendance. All that I took from the presentation was that training would be presented at locations centered around the region. The five clubs in our district would be 300 miles to our north. It was simple, get up early, travel 300 miles to the meeting place, attend a one day seminar, travel back 300 miles home all on the members dime. Now how many people do you think attended. If this is the best planning Sertoma can do, I have no hope for the future of Sertoma. Now you want to increase the members and the Club dues. Our club has bent over backwards to keep the dues as low as possible in hopes it might encourage retired and new members to either not resign or join. Something is not in order. I would encourage Sertoma to stop bleeding the members and clubs and give them support.

  • Mark Crofoot says:

    All the money we raise goes to charity, as it should be.

    • Steve Murphy says:

      There are very few charities that have the ability to cover all management and fundraising costs from revenues other than what they raise. Even many organizations with dues revenue can make that happen. It is expected by the IRS and watchdog groups that money from fundraising does provide support for the underlying costs associated with fundraising and program operation. Which would include volunteer development and recognition. If the members feel they would rather pay the $175 from their funds, that is a choice, but in the end those are also funds the club has raised.

      Steven Murphy
      Executive Director

  • Don Smith says:

    You will be loosing membership my raising the dues. You have to cut back expenses. Let us see your expense sheet and we will help you.

    • Steve Murphy says:

      That is something your Board looks at every year, where and how to balance the expenses and revenues of the organization. That is done in the context of the strategic plan which the Board also develops and approves. During the past 15 years, expenses have been adjusted down to match revenue and membership trends. I am sure any Board member, and clearly the officers would be happy to discuss, as any expense reduction impacts not just how much is spent, but what programs or services are impacted. And some of our increasing costs are not optional, such as the increasing costs for current technology, or the costs for fundraising registering in each state that impact our audit and legal expenses. Expense management was the first stop, not the last before the Board decided to propose a dues increase.

      Steven Murphy
      Executive Director

  • R. F. Luebben says:

    1) Reduce the Board size by eliminating the 3 Director-at-Large positions at the end of their current terms, since the Board has remained at a constant number while the membership has fallen by over 1/3 since 2004;
    2) Request an annual voluntary donation from Life Members “in lieu of dues” in increments of $25 for operational expenses.

    • Steve Murphy says:

      The size of the Board is an issue, but a simple reduction of the 3 at-large members will not address the revenue issue. The Governing documents defines a Region should be at lest 3,000 members, and that means one board position. Based on that we should have three regions, which would mean 3 directors plus the 3 at-large. So, yes we probably have a board that is too large for the size of the organization. But it is a more complex discussion than just drop the 3 at-large. And we have already begun to reduce the amount of revenues members have to provide for the board .
      A committee is looking at if and how we could approach the life members for additional support. That is something I can share more about as that committee reports on its work to the Board.

      Steven Murphy
      Executive Director

  • lowell scott says:

    when I was international director we had thirty two thousand members in Sertoma How many do we have now?

    • Steve Murphy says:

      We are just over 9,000. Sadly a lot has happened in the 35 years since we had 30K members. Beginning with somewhere around 1984 was the last year Sertoma had an net increase in membership. Sadly we are not alone, as all the US based service clubs have struggled since the early 1990’s with declining domestic membership.

      Steven Murphy
      Executive Director

  • lowell says:

    what are we paying the Executive Director??

    • Steve Murphy says:

      That information is available in the Sertoma 990 filing, which can be accessed through the Guidestar website

      • Don Smith says:

        Why do I have to log into another web site to view this important information? You should make it available through this web site so all the members can have easy access to it. It’s bad enough that we have to jump through hoops when no matter what is said, our dues are going up and we have no recourse but to either put up with it or quit.

        The cost of everything is going up, that’s a given, but are you doing your best to keep cost’s in check? With fewer clubs and fewer members, maybe International needs to cut back.

      • Don Smith says:

        So you deleted my reply. That tells us a lot about whats is going on behind closed doors. Shame on you.

        • Don Smith says:

          ops, it didn’t show up after refreshing the page, sorry. You need a way to edit replies.

  • Debra Shelton says:

    Club dues have always been considered an operating expense, which comes from member dues. Yes it CAN be taken from fundraising, but that comes out of the donations available to our charities.
    It is apples and oranges, but our fundraising events that include alcohol sales are no longer covered by the Sertoma insurance. Locally over $20,000 has been diverted away from our charitable giving in additional expense. I do understand better than most why. However, when I was Governor, I was asked “why are we part of Sertoma” My answer was 501C3 status and insurance. Now, it is 501C3 – which is not that hard to get. Our largest two clubs give $10,000 per year in member dues now. Dues increase will not be popular at this time. I also heard that there has been expenditures approved that created deficit spending, which is very troubling.

    • Steve Murphy says:

      This highlights a couple of important issues. First, since club dues were first implemented it has been shared that those funds are a valid expense for a club, and could come from any revenue source including fundraising. At the end of the year, the IRS and watchdog groups look at all revenue and expenses in total and the relationships between management, fundraising and programs. Programs include funds given away by the club, but would also include costs for service projects, and even member training and recognition. It is not apples and oranges, it is how the world evaluates public charities. The concept of an operating fund and a sponsorship fund are holdovers from when club operations and fundraising were conducted under different tax exemptions.
      As to the value or benefits of membership as related to the insurance issues. One of the values of membership is a shared risk pool, and for the majority of clubs a great value on insurance. Yes we have a handful of clubs who have developed wonderful events and activities that have expanded beyond the coverage available. But the coverage is designed to meet the needs of the majority, and it does. You cannot expect the members to support a far more expensive policy with limits only utilized by a few clubs. If you are one of the few clubs that has events that generate 10’s if not 100’s of thousands of dollars, like any business you should expect your costs will be greater as is your return. But even those club have for years benefited from the shared risk before coverage recently changed, and even today it provides coverage for all but one or two specific events.
      Yes there are some benefits to being a member, like not having to apply for tax status, shared insurance; and if you participate and take advantage of training and shared mission activities. But in the end, we belong because we believe in what we share and value, in the difference being part of the whole can make. As we each consider the impact of this increase on the charities we support, a question to ask is where does Sertoma rank as the national charity I belong too?

  • Bob Brockmann says:

    Our club can afford the $5 per member per quarter dues increase and the club dues to $175. I built in a small increase in dues a few years ago in anticipation of this requirement.
    Treasurers forever can do that.

  • Pat McArdle says:

    It has been my honor to serve a national treasurer for the last four years. I want to assure you that your national board has been a very diligent steward in handling the dues and donations it receives. I encourage all Sertomans to support the great work we accomplishing in furthering our mission of hearing health. Please support the increase in dues proposed and contribute also to the annual fund.

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