Update on the Finance Review Task Force Report

By Jennifer Roberts, Treasurer

Jenn was elected to the ACA Board in June 2014 for a two year term from January 1, 2015-December 31, 2016.  She works as a private records archivist at Yukon Archives in Whitehorse.


As most of the membership is likely now aware, in August 2014 a Finance Review Task Force was established in order to review the revenue streams of the Association.  A report was completed in April 2015 and I presented this report to membership at the annual conference in Regina in June.

The Task Force looked at the ACA’s revenue streams in order to provide the ACA with information to determine possible future courses of action and to ensure the ongoing financial health of the Association.  The revenue streams examined were: membership fees, conference and workshop rates, and Archivaria.  The Task Force also looked at the Association’s reserve fund to consider whether any changes should be made to how the fund is administered and managed.   The impetus for this review came from the Board’s observation that the ACA has been experiencing diminished revenues across all program areas for several years.  Our concern is that, without making adjustments to how the Associations earns and spends its money, no new initiatives (such as online education) will be possible and some activities may have to be eliminated or significantly reduced.

To describe more specifically two areas where diminished revenue has been experienced, take a closer look at conference and Archivaria finances.

Over quite a number of years, ACA’s annual conference accounted for roughly 30-35% of the association’s annual revenue.  Putting on the conference costs slightly less than that.  On an annual basis since 2009, the conference has resulted in an average net income over expenses of approximately $15,000 [1].  However, since 2010 there has been a steady decrease in the financial sponsorship and exhibitor fees provided to the annual conference.  For example, in 2004 we received over $27,000 in sponsorship and exhibitor fees and in 2015, we received $23,000.  Both the amount of the contributions and the number of separate sponsors have been progressively decreasing over the years.

Until recently, Archivaria was not only a source of pride for the ACA, but also a revenue-generating budget line.  It was able to support all aspects of journal production.  However, a steady decrease in paid subscriptions since 2009 as well as increases in postal costs, the loss of back issue sales and decreasing reprint fees, and the loss of external funding have become significant factors.  Just covering the costs of journal production has become problematic.

Due to the changing financial situation of the ACA, the Board and specifically the Finance Review Task Force wanted to examine ACA’s finances more closely and determine what can be done to improve the revenue coming in to the association.  One of our conclusions, and a positive one, is that an increase in membership numbers would go a long way to supporting the bottom line.  On this matter, we feel that every archivist can play a role in helping boost the revenue for the ACA.  Do you have a colleague or a friend who used to be a member of ACA but isn’t any longer?  Talk to that archivist, find out why and encourage her to rejoin and support her professional association.  We are stronger together.

Back to the recommendations that were made in the Finance Review Task Force report and the overall projected budget deficit, the ACA Board has taken action to eliminate expenses across several areas.  For example, we have cancelled plans for the in-person spring board policy and planning meeting in 2016, reduced the financial support provided for an ACA member to attend the 2015 ICA conference and limited attendance at the fall policy and planning meeting to board members and committee chairs only.  Further, and based on the feedback we have received from members, the ACA Board is proceeding as follows with the recommendations from the FRFT:

Operations and Reserve Fund: Implement all recommendations through policy and procedures of the Board.

Membership: Maintain the current membership fees (no increase or decrease outside the current annual increments); register all students as e-students starting in the upcoming membership year; propose, in the next membership fee table, a realignment of the retired category with the Associate/General category; consider merging income categories and creating a higher bracket.

Educational Opportunities:  Increase the cost of ACA workshops to bring them in line with comparable offerings.

Conference: Meet with student chapters, PLC and membership committee to determine whether student registrations will increase; contact Toronto-area archivists to discuss placing the annual conference in Toronto more regularly; provide further details on financial reasons for wanting to have the conference in Toronto regularly.

Archivaria: All recommendations are being considered and a group has been established to set parameters and needs for strategic planning.  This group is scheduled to complete its work in 2015.

As always, if you have any questions please ask!

[1] Net income over expenses for 2009-2014 conferences: Calgary, $19,519; Halifax, $18,151; Toronto $42,385; Whitehorse -$25,923; Victoria $13,743.