First National Dues Increase in 10 Years Comes With Increased Member Services

After holding the line on dues increases for the past 10 years, the PRSA 2011 Leadership Assembly voted to approve a $30 increase in the cost of basic PRSA membership dues. In those 10 years, costs have gone up dramatically, and the organization cut $1.5 million out of the budget. In order to maintain the level of services the society currently has, and to provide the new services members need, the PRSA Board of Directors put together a task force to evaluate the Society’s financial condition, and to make a recommendation to the Board. Its recommendation was that PRSA should increase the cost of its member dues by up to $50.

Based on their recommendations, the Board voted to introduce a motion at this year’s Leadership Assembly to increase the cost of dues by $30, instead of the recommended $50, and the Assembly concurred, voting to approve the dues increase 209-53. As part of the dues increase, beginning in 2012, all PRSA webinars will be included as a free member benefit. Currently priced at $100 or above, the added value will significanly offset the increase in dues, an approximately $2000 value for someone who participates in one webinar per month.

The task force’s rationale in making its recommendation was simple and straightforward:

  • PRSA has not increased the cost of its membership dues in 10 years, even though the cost of doing business has risen significantly over the decade.
  • Membership dues, which account for approximately 50 percent of PRSA’s revenue, have remained steady, but other revenue streams, such as professional development and the Jobcenter, have declined.
  • Over that same 10-year span, PRSA has increased the scope and number of benefits it delivers, and periodic surveys report member satisfaction is high.
  • PRSA also has been diligent about finding new ways to diversify its non-member revenue sources, and already has cut $1.5 million in operating expenses from its budget.

Quarterly Dues Payment Plan Available to Make it Easier to Pay Dues

The board concluded that an increase in the cost of membership is now vital to our continued reinvestment in the Society.  In considering a proposed dues increase, the board and the Assembly took into account the needs of professionals who are job hunting or otherwise unable to pay their dues in full. For those individuals, PRSA offers a Quarterly Payment Program that allows current members to pay their National and Professional Interest Section dues in four quarterly payments. PRSA also offers a Hardship Program for professionals who have been a member for three or more years and are currently unemployed or temporarily disabled.

One of the ways the Task Force arrived at its recommendation was by researching dues increases implemented by similarly sized professional organizations. Based on that analysis, the Board of Directors felt that a $30 increase would help prevent PRSA from losing current members and show deference for the current economic climate, while still allowing PRSA to achieve its financial goal of contributing 1 percent of budgeted expenses to its financial reserves in 2012 and possibly beyond. PRSA’s financial models currently show that a $30 increase would provide PRSA with a modest surplus after making that 1 percent contribution to net assets.

PRSA National Chair Roseanna M. Fisk, APR, told the Assembly delegates “It’s difficult to say with certainty how long that surplus may forestall a subsequent dues increase. Variables including the economy, technological advances, dues and non-dues (including sponsorship) revenue trends and the evolution of PRSA’s product and service offerings will all impact how that question is answered. Currently, there are no plans for a subsequent increase beyond the one currently being proposed.”

Renew Early and Avoid the Dues Increase

Members and nonmembers wishing to avoid the $30 dues increase may renew their membership before the end of 2011 at the old rate of $225 annually, plus a $65 initiation fee for new members. Special pricing is also available for Associate Members and Graduate Students. If you have any questions, contact PRSA Membership at 1-212-460-1400.

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