Hampton National Convention
Aug. 9, 2014
(Please download the PDF of the slideshow that was shown at this meeting and refer to it while reading the minutes. It contains slides containing our financial information as well as other items of interest ? Sec. Tennant)
President Dick Christ brought the meeting to order at 9 a.m. with the following board members present: 2VP Bell, Secretary Tennant, DLC Randel, Treasurer Shimek, DFL Ratzenberger
Thirty members were in attendance. A sign-up sheet was passed to record attendees and their IPMS/USA membership numbers.
Pres. Christ began his presentation (included with these minutes for easy reference), gave a general overview and summarized the slides to those in attendance. He turned things over to Larry Randel, the director of local chapters, to go over the stats about local chapters. After he finished going over the high points of his presentation and, hearing no questions, then turned the podium over to webmaster Eric Aitala to narrate his portion of the presentation. Aitala said mobile use of our web site is increasing at a rate of 15% annually. More people view our web site via mobile devices than with they do with computers. It's a national trend and we're following it.
The webmaster also announced that updates will be coming to the forums, reviews site and the online store in the near future. He is working to get a better online system integrated into our web site to improve the overall user experience.
During the questions period following Aitala's remarks: Mark Vittorini (35077) asked about accessing the member database and whether it would be possible to integrate this old data with an updated system. Aitala said we would integrate this data with any new system.
Jim Woody (33899) asked whether our current shopping cart stored member credit card information and about the security of our web site. Aitala said that no credit card data is stored and that he is very careful to keep up with security updates to our server software. He said he keep up to date and runs the updates immediately, if possible. He is not worried about hackers on our web site.
Paul Anderson (41142) expressed concern about the security of information stored on our web site. Aitala said security is taken into account for every decision made concerning the web site.
Gil Hodges (10803) wondered how long the web site would we be down to do these updates. Webmaster Aitala said two or three days. Hodges expressed a concern that we not be down for a long time because we might lose those new members who find our web site down for maintenance when they want to join.
Woody (33899) asked: Do we have space on the server to update? Aitala: yes.
Art Nicholson (36967): Our members, in general, don't have a lot of expertise for starting/maintaining web sites. Is there a way for the webmaster to give tips to chapters to improve Web sites? Aitala: I spoke with Ralph Forehand about setting up a forum topic for use by club web masters to share tips and info to help them run their web sites. (Secretary note: this forum has already been set up. Contact email@example.com to be added to this web master-only forum.)
With no more questions for the webmaster, Pres. Christ moved on to a discussion of society finances. He noted that his first choice for a Treasurer (to replace the late Ed Kinney) didn't work out and that John Shimek has stepped up to take on the duties of Treasurer. Note: this office is an appointed, not an elected, position.
After answering some general questions about the finance slides in his presentation, he pointed out that most of our money comes in after the national convention held in the second half of the year.
He noted that the top three expenses are the printing of the Journal, the office manager's salary and the Make N Take program. He presented the data to prove this.
Art Nicholson asked if our fiscal year is the calendar year? President Christ said yes, it is.
Jim Woody asked about the basis for the costs listed for the reviewer corps. Even though the kits come to us free from the makers, we have to pay for the postage to ship them to the various reviewers across the country.
Gil Hodges asked bout the line item about regional chapter cost? Randel said it was the $200 rebate given to chapters hosting regional conventions if they offer discounts for IPMS/USA members.
Pres. Christ pointed out that our income is now less than expenses and we can't stay on the path we are on. We are losing about $15,000 per year and we as a society need to fix this. The current trend is not maintainable.
Bill Strandberg (999) asked if switching to Paypal for processing our credit card payments would offer any savings. Randel said Paypal's cost is higher.
Pres. Christ asked the membership for ideas on how to turn this losing trend around. He offered the suggestion of reducing the frequency of Journal publication while retaining the same annual page count.
Jim Woody pointed out that, if the Journal is larger, postage would be higher too.
David Von Almen (24061) stated that the annual cost will be the same if the annual page count is the same. However, he said, postage cost can be reduced by using thinner page stock.
Robert Booth (37548) asked about the possibility of making the Journal digital only. Pres. Christ expressed the concern about keeping IPMS/USA content controlled so that only paid members can receive it. That control, he said, becomes quite expensive.
Mark Vittorini stated that he felt the Journal is one of the tools we use to sell membership. He would rather see an increase in annual charter fees instead of a member increase.
David Goudie (6340) asked if the board has looked into using different paper surface to lower costs.
David Von Almen, former editor of the Journal, said that, in his experience, different surfaces made no difference.
Pres. Christ pointed out that, thanks to Office Manager Kinney's efforts, we now have better event insurance coverage for much less money. This has meant a savings of $4000/year. We have also learned that credit card convenience comes with a cost (which is listed as banking fees in the presentation).
Hodges asked if we're willing to eat that loss as a cost of doing business. Christ said that, up until last year, the IRS wouldn't allow us to do that. That has since changed and we now can charge a credit card fee.
Hodges: is charging that fee an option?
Pres. Christ: It could be but if we manage to get a lower fee, folks might not complain.
David Goudie asked if using a credit card caused less work for the office? Randel responded that the office manager spends just as much time processing credit cards as she does cash or check payments.
Nick Fillippone (969) commented on the amazing cost for our Make N Take program. He asked what we were getting for the outlay of all that money.
Pres. Christ said we're getting community outreach ? something that is smart for us, as a society, to do. This outreach is not unlimited, however and we have put a $10000 annual cap on spending.
He also said that Make N Take doesn't generate membership, it raises awareness and, he believes, is money well spent.
Howie Belkin (16) said that publicity for Make N Take is priceless. It puts the IPMS/USA in the newspaper and out to the media. He went on to say his club tries to make Make N Take a family activity, not a baby sitting service.
Jim Woody said that, in southern California chapters, Make N Take at shows is akin to preaching to the choir. He said they do their Make N Take in libraries and are quite successful.
Rob Booth mentioned that, in San Antonio, they do Make N Take at airshows. It's an obvious outreach, he said. He was also surprised at Revell charging for Make N Take kits.
Pres. Christ pointed out that the society is basically getting the kits for cost. The average cost of each kit is $2.50. Revell offers 4 or 5 choices. We charge chapters what Revell charges us and that postage is the cost that is passed on to chapters requesting Make N Take kits.
Mark Vittorini agreed with Belkin about Make N Take generating good publicity for the society. In his experience, he found that people came to his club's events specifically for the show and Make N Take.
Fred Horky (6390) said the financial problem is centered around falling membership numbers. If we increase membership, the problem will go away. Right now, the problem is unpaid members in our chapters. More need to step up and stop being "freeloaders."
Mark Vittorini agreed that it is the problem in Wichita too.
Bruce Drummond (37265) suggested raising dues by $5/member before increasing the fee for Make N Take kits. He stated that his club in south Florida ran a 17-day program at a county fair where they had 300 kids participate in Make N Take. They gained three new members from this event. He advocated raising member dues to pay for Make N Take instead of charging chapters who host Make N Take events more money for kits. He saw no problem going through 300 kits at one event, he said, and is working with the board to get more kits in the future. He said the bottom line is we're planting a seed for the future and it's a good way to market our society. He also suggested that any dues increase be put toward paying for Make N Take, ABC programs and our Models for Troops initiatives exclusively. Chapter dues increases could go toward covering other budgetary shortfalls.
Art Nicholson suggested that, as an incentive to increase membership, how about offering a lower, first-time member fee.
Gil Hodges asked if the board had a dollar amount in mind for the proposed increases? President Christ stated that IPMS/USA has had no dues increases in over ten years and that we've had increased costs without more money in our coffers to offset them. He was thinking that an increase of $5/member per year and increasing chapter rechartering fees from $20 to $30 would erase much of the annual shortfall. He also said he wants to increase membership and he's not afraid to steal ideas from other societies such as offering a "bounty" to chapters or hobby stores for recruiting new members.
Hodges pointed out that there's no need to be a chartered club if you don't need the liability insurance. Christ understood that and reminded him that the insurance covers meetings in addition to shows.
Jim Woody said chapters don't remember that our insurance covers all of our club activities.
David Goudie suggested that we have a place to send ideas on the web site. Several members mentioned sending suggestions directly to board members' email addresses. Christ pointed out that our online forum participation is small and that a column in the Journal would be a better place to publicize ideas.
Bill Strandberg agreed with Ralph Horky that too many non-paying freeloaders are dragging down the organization. In his club, they use memberships as an incentive to join. Also, he said, higher price might imply more value. The root problem though, is decades of freeloaders dragging the society down.
Hodges asked if there is a long term plan to replace the current office manager when she retires? Christ said the board has come up with a job description but has no person in the wings. He also added that any replacement will probably come from within the society?probably a spouse of a member.
Hodges suggested a succession plan needed to be moved upon and Christ said the board has started the process. In replying to Hodge's follow-up, Christ said any replacement would be at the same salary.
Roger Woods (40923) asked if the dues increase would stop the deficit. Christ said yes and DFL John Ratzenberger pointed out that it wouldn't erase the deficit immediately, the monetary effect would be staggered over three years or so.
Pete Maher (10557) objected to the derogatory word "freeloaders" used by some members to describe chapter members who aren't also IPMS/USA members. He asked if we could we come up with ways to encourage more IPMS/USA membership in chapters. something to consider
Pres. Christ said another thought is rewarding chapters for 100% membership. Give them a significant reduction in chartering fees, for example. DLC Randel said approximately 40-50% of chapter members are also IPMS/USA members.
John Ratzenberger (40196) cautioned against calling non-IPMS/USA dues paying club members freeloaders. They make contributions to clubs even though they don't choose to pay dues to the National organization. They contribute in many non-monetary ways and clubs should remember that before offending these members by calling them freeloaders.
Pres. Christ adjourned the business meeting to begin the Convention Bid meeting.
Submitted by Dennis Tennant, Secretary