The spendthrift “Accredited” members of PR Society of America, who fed $2.78 million to the sacred APR cow from 1986-2001 and who just hosted 137 “leaders” to a weekend in New York at a cost of well over $100K, are pleading poverty and want to hike dues for the 21,000 PRSA members $30 to $255.

As is usual, national leaders are providing no chance for rank-and-file members to question them in person about the need for a raise.

The 2009 bylaws re-write was conducted without any member of the committee ever facing a live audience as was the debate last year on a proposal to let non-APRs run for the national board. The only open discussion of such topics was at the annual Assembly.

Chair Rosanna Fiske, announcing the proposed hike yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, said that members will be able to contact their elected chapter delegates about the increase.

“If they don’t seek you out, seek them out and let them know how you feel,” she said in an e-mail to members.

Otherwise, she said, discussions will take place in “MyPRSA message forums, PRSA blogs, Facebook page, LinkedIn groups, eBlasts and articles that appear in the Society’s print and online publications.”

It is more than 20 years since a national leader of the Society addressed the New York chapter.

Fiske’s speaking schedule is not available.

Treasurer Phil Tate announced the increase this a.m. in a posting on PRSAY and on Tactics Online.

Murray’s Contract Up for Renewal

COO Bill Murray’s contract is either up for renewal or has been renewed. It expires in January 2012. A search committee would need to be formed now if a replacement is being sought. There is no sign of any such committee.

Murray, who has not addressed the New York chapter membership during his 4.5 years in office, received a $10,289 raise to $323,068 in 2009, the latest year for which his salary is available. He had received a $50K raise in 2008.

Staff pay is not in the audit but in IRS Form 990 which PRSA usually files late in the year.

Murray also got $32,500 in retirement/deferred compensation in 2009 and $18,050 in nontaxable benefits for a total of $373,618. Neither he nor the board will reveal terms of his 2010-11 contract.

Other salaries listed were CFO Philip Bonaventura, $184K; VP-corporate development John Robinson, $140K; VP-PR Arthur Yann, $137K; VP-special events Karla Voth, $135K; VP-marketing Barbara McDonald, $126K; VP-membership Jennifer Ian, $121K, and director of professional development Judith Voss, $115K

Cuts Made But Not in Pay

Tate said $1.5 million has been cut in operating expenses and that PRSA has “exhausted nearly every practicable source of new revenue.”

Not cut were total staff pay/fringes which rose 3% in 2010 to $5,368,206 and made up 51% of expenses of $10,465,256. Staff expenses average about 35%-40% for groups with income of about $10 million, according to the American Society of Assn. Executives.

The 2011 first quarter results, posted in the members-only area of the Society website, show salaries/fringes up 8% to $1,390,314 or 57% of revenues of $2,249,824.

Other sizable expenses of PRSA include occupancy costs, which were $755,982 in 2010 (vs. about $350,000 yearly when h.q. were at 33 Irving place until 2004), and publications ($285,349 for printing/postage and $731,750 for staff).

The Society stopped publishing its printed members’ directory in 2006 claiming it saved on printing/postage and an online directory was more up-to-date. There is no talk of converting the monthly Tactics and quarterly Strategist to online only.

Leaders refuse to discuss the option of having a PDF of the members’ directory which would eliminate printing/postage costs and also be up-to-date.

Assembly Voted to Move from New York

The 1985 and 1986 Assemblies voted to move h.q. from New York after extensive proposals were received from chapters in seven major cities. The proposals had been invited by national leadership.

However, the board over-ruled the Assembly and permanently cancelled the spring Assembly. It morphed into a “Leadership Rally” as of 1999 that is not only off-the-record but is not announced on the Society website.

The invitation list has been expanded to include not only the 110 chapter presidents-elect but the 17 section heads and 10 district chairs.
Each receives a $550 stipend to offset expenses ($75,350) plus five free meals worth another $27K for a total of about $102K.

Society Does Not Have “Reserves”

Both Fiske and Tate talk about the Society’s “reserves” although only banks can have reserves.

Profit and non-profit corporations are judged by their “net assets” which is only meaningful in terms of annual expenses.

PRSA bloats its net assets by booking dues as cash when FASB (ASC 958-605-2-1) says “revenues derived from membership dues in exchange transactions should be recognized over the period to which they relate.”

Converting dues income to the liability part of the balance sheet from the assets side would leave PRSA with about two months of net assets with which to pay bills.

About half of dues, which run from $4.4M to $4.8M, would make the shift, leaving under $2M in net assets.