As the American Choral Directors Association continues to undertake a comprehensive study of our overall financial architecture, we face the ever-present issue of ongoing financial sustainability, and this has led us to the need for a dues increase. ACDA’s capable and trusted financial advisors have made the strong case for a dues increase, and our executive leadership has responded appropriately by instituting a dues increase effective July 1, 2016. A decision such as this does not come lightly and reflects the vigilant care of those elected to protect the work and strength of our association.
I agree with this decision based upon several convincing arguments. First, our organization has been operating on a longstanding pattern of feast or famine depending on the success of the biennial national conference, and this is a pattern we must break. The National Office works very hard with a variety of professional services to keep our conferences affordable for our membership. When attendance is good, our revenue is enhanced. However, we can never know what attendance and support will result from our conferences. This is no way to live and work.
Second, the technological challenges of operating a twenty-first century organization of our size exceed our current revenue capabilities. Our dues have remained the same for seven years, and inflation alone suggests the need for an increase in revenue, but the single line item of technology can be a budget breaker. As I often say about technological accretions, it is expected that we add these advancements, but rarely do they eliminate other expenses.
Third, ACDA is growing, and we are growing fastest in the area of student membership and young professionals. This is a wonderful and exciting thing, but student dues do not sustain ACDA. This dues increase will not include student membership dues. Neither are we increasing dues for our retirees. We are depending on our active membership to sustain the health of our professional association.
Finally, the benefits to ACDA membership have increased greatly since 2010 levels. My January Choral Journal editorial lists thirty-one benefits to ACDA membership, a list that continues to grow and a list that represents a significant increase over the previous decade. These benefits represent a valuable investment in our future but can be expensive items to maintain. Examples of such benefits include:
- Our ACDA website, ACDA.org, the virtual home for ACDA
- Our professional and social networking site, ChoralNet
- Our international choral music database, Musica
- ACDA’s National Mentoring Program, which resulted from our most recent strategic planning process
- Our signature Conferences, Symposia, Retreats, and Festivals
- Our expanded list of publications
- An enlarged and professionalized staff
Membership dues paid by ACDA members fuel the work of ACDA at the state, division, and national levels and, through our various programs, also stimulates the work of ACDA with our student chapters and international members. As we look to the future of our organization, I am encouraged by the steps we are taking now to continue to support the choral arts on both local and international levels. One of those steps is the recent vote to reorganize our standing committees. Another is the examination of our current financial structure and subsequent dues increase, which I believe will allow the American Choral Directors Association to continue to enthusiastically embrace its mission of inspiring excellence through choral music education, performance, advocacy, and composition in the twenty-first century. This mission is one that has incredible value, as does membership in our association.