December 1975 Home   Newsletters

January 1976

February 1976

Coming this Month - January 1976
From the President (Carol Whitesell)
Honolulu LWV Calendar : Jan - May 1976
Brief Explanation of Hawaii's Coastal Zone Management Program
Ideas on Public Transportation (Mildred Walston)
Money Bags
Dollars and Sense - Financing the League (pull & save)

Dollars and Sense - Financing the League

Dollars are not the cornerstone of League achievements, but all too often they can make the difference between a job well done or a job not done at all. A League president summed it up this way:

"Our strength lies in the energy, competence and dedication of League members.

"But our ability to produce sustained and effective public education and action programs depend to a large extent on out level of financial support.

In short, money matters. And the facts of life dictate that it matters a great deal."

Funding the League is a matter of every member's making a down-to-earth assessment of what this organization is really worth, to the individual member, and to the communities (local state or national) served by the League. Additionally the question of the amount of funding is directly related to the systems under which tax funds are collected.

  • Is the system equitable?

  • Does it (or should it) take into account the special characteristics of each level of the League?

  • Is it efficient?

  • Does it truly reflect the real needs of local, state and national levels?

  • Does it allow for long range planning -- a time span over and above the current fiscal year?

  • Does it adequately reflect differences in geographical resources?

Following are some options and some points to consider in weighing each.

PER MEMBER PAYMENTS. A uniform flat rate per member, determined by dividing the amount of income needed (after all other sources have been accounted for) by the total membership. The amount of PMP could be tied to." budget acceptance at a convention or council meeting, or it could be determined in separate vote prior to budget adoption, as national by-laws now provide. PMPs could also be the basis of local and/or state member support levels, replacing dues and pledges.

Points to consider:

  • Provides a set amount of income per year (two years under national by-laws).

  • Spreads League responsibility evenly, if fully paid.

  • Lacks fair-share, ability to pay factors.

(Some Leagues suggested establishing tax-deductible PMP’s, on the grounds that their fiscal problems would be eased if they had the option of meeting the PMP obligation to the national level with tax-deductible funds solicited for the LWVEF from individuals, corporations or other businesses. Attractive as the idea seems on the face of it, such procedure would not comply with IRS regulations. The LWVUS is the member organization, and because it and local and state Leagues lobby for specific legislation, their dues or other member-based assessments are not deductible.

The establishment of the state and local grant program within the LWVEF does allow those local and state Leagues that are not able to take tax deductible funds to solicit for educational and voters service projects. Hundreds of Leagues are now finding new sources of "soft" money in their communities to fund projects formerly paid for by nondeductible monies.)

PLEDGES: Traditionally, pledges have been based on formulas aimed at assessing a League's ability to pay. Some of the more common formula factors are: area per capita income, size and/or age of League, area cost of. living index, size of League budget. According to the formula elements, Leagues are assigned a prorated assessment, which is applied to income needed. Leagues accept or modify the requested amounts prior to budget, adoption.

Points to consider:

  • Attempts to factor in ability-to-pay considerations.

  • Is set annually, subject to convention changes.

  • Contributes to uncertain budgeting at recipient level.

  • Sets up "fairness" problem between Leagues who accept and meet proposed pledge and those who don't.

ORGANIZATIONAL DUES. A minimum dues amount is established by the national convention, with fixed amounts of the total earmarked for each level of the League. Dues could be made uniform, or a minimum rate could be established for local and state League shares, with each able to request a higher amount via pledges or other methods. Would be collected locally, with obligations being met fully by members or by combination of members plus - contributions.

Points to consider:

  • Provides for a set amount of income for two-year period for each Level of the League.

  • Would spread member/League responsibility evenly.

  • Would strengthen principle of organizational interrelationship.

  • Would provide a single method or base of League financing while providing for flexibility according to need.

  • Could increase dues amount for members.

NATIONAL DUES. There would be one uniform dues for all individuals joining the League. Dues would be sent directly to the national office, which would then rebate to local and state Leagues amounts determined by convention. Individuals who joined in areas where there was no local League would be categorized as state and national members-at-large.

Points to consider:

  • Spreads member responsibility evenly.

  • Relieves Local and State Leagues of bookkeeping and dues collection chores.

  • Entails increased cost at national Level, which might be offset by income from new category of national members- at-large.

  • Could facilitate nationwide membership drives.

  • Could increase dues amount for members.

SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS. A particular local, state, or national project is costed out and the total amount is then pro-rated on a per-member basis. Membership would give approval through the appropriate body--local League annual meeting, state conventions or councils. Approval of the proposed assessment would make member payment a member responsibility. (A variation would be a voluntary special fund request, such as the every-member ERA solicitation conducted by national.)

Points to consider:

  • Provides mechanism Oh meeting "one Act" needs, e.g., office equipment on special legislative effort.

  • Could weaken budget planning process

  • Would increase members' role in meeting specific League needs.

This is not a comprehensive list, nor does it do more than hint at the permutations and combinations that might be worked out. It does summarize the most commonly mentioned suggestions from the PMP/Pledge survey; it could trigger other suggestions.

If you opt for a mixed system, think through the question of compatibility how will the components of your mix fit with one another? For example, organizational dues could be supplemented by a modified pledge system, but it wouldn't mix with the PIMP. Keep in mind, also, that none of the above systems will meet the total income requirements of the League--local, state and national will still have to seek out contributions and develop other sources of income. Finally, League interrelationships are a crucial part of the equation. Each level of the League, though it functions separately, is essential to make the other a successful and effective organization.

Though a League of a few members may. speak on behalf of the League, we carry the prestige of thousands and the credibility of 55 years of solid performance and experience. Our path! may be different, but our goals are the same. Our degree of success depends to a great extent on the amount of money we have to work with. We can stand still, slide backwards or move ahead, depending on our degree of commitment. The choice is ours.

The fall NATIONAL VOTER (pages 10-12) you recently received gives the picture for National.

To see how Honolulu and Hawaii State Leagues compare, come and brainstorm at the meeting Monday, January 26.


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