NPPA Budget Moves: Moves Are Necessary For Future/Greg Garneau

by Greg Garneau

The NPPA is in the midst of an operating turnaround. The Executive Committee and the staff are making good progress in addressing a structural deficit that is in the range of $300,000 dollars a year. The deficit was identified during the budgeting process of 2002 but initiatives taken last year to build revenue -- such as the new member drive -- did not pan out. As a result of shortfalls in projected revenue, coupled with operating deficits at our events and at the magazine last year, plus the heavy and ongoing expenses of producing the Best Of Photojournalism Contest DVD's and yearbook ($170,536 in total), our audit report will show an actual deficit totaling $344,787.

Although the Board passed a balanced budget in Chicago last June there are certain fiscal realities that must be faced. A dues increase has been announced which will address part of the problem, but last year member dues covered only 39% of the overall expenses of the Association.

Our corporate sponsors continue to be generous with us. Strenuous efforts are being made to shore up and increase our income from corporate sources. Yet we have to be prepared for future setbacks in this area. Attendance has been down at our educational events. This is a trend witnessed by many other associations and again is a product of the current economy. Cumulative losses at NPPA events last fiscal year totaled $67,424. In the fiscal year ending May 2002 the NPPA spent $195,899 on salaries and benefits. In the fiscal year ending May 2003 the NPPA spent $323,969 on salaries and benefits. One full-time position was therefore eliminated in April 2003.

This month the Executive Committee ordered the NPPA office staff to cut its personnel budget by a further 10% (for the remaining portion of the fiscal year) effective immediately. This meant a 20% cut on an annual basis or one full-time position. This position was eliminated last week. The remaining staff (5 full-time equivalents) understands the need for these measures and supports the Executive Committee at this difficult time.

Certain operating savings (such as online elections, streamlining the audit process, a new vendor for member cards, and the dues increase) amount to $121,000 dollars for the remainder of the fiscal year or $228,000 dollars annually.

Another change promises to solve several long-standing problems and save as much as $50,000 dollars annually, if not more. This year the Best of Photojournalism 2003 hardbound book commemorating the contest for still photographers was projected to cost about $85,000 dollars to produce and mail. The annual book has been criticized for appearing late in the year (this is due to the budgeting and approval process), for carrying ads, for being too expensive, and for not being very easy to sell to the general public. The Executive Committee has decided that instead of producing the hardbound book, the yearbook will appear as a special issue of News Photographer. In the future the issue will be produced live from the judging site as winners are selected. It will go to press shortly thereafter as a high quality softbound -- shades of the "Year in Pictures" issues that Life and Look magazines published annually. The special issue will address all of the problems mentioned above and will be timely and cost significantly less, but with the same content.