Friday, November 6, 2015

Where your ACS dues go

Also in this week's C&EN,  Kristin Omberg, the chair of ACS's Committee On Budget & Finance talks about ACS dues. She makes a number of points worthy of comment:
  • ACS dues for 2016 will be $162.
  • "Bylaw XIII also sets allocations for dues revenue."
    • 40% of dues goes to "printing and distribution costs of the editorial portion of Chemical & Engineering News." ($6.30M)
    • 20% of dues goes to support of local sections (55%) and divisions (45%). ($3.15 million in 2015)
    • all of the dues revenue from the Student Member category ($400,000 in 2015) is allocated to the Education Division for support of student programs.
And then there's this paragraph: 
...Of the remaining dues revenue, $3.34 million supports the Member Services unit that sends you the reminders to pay your dues, processes new membership applications, and maintains basic member benefits; $1.26 million covers information technology (IT) systems support; and $500,000 goes to other charges associated with membership, such as credit card fees and bad debt. That leaves about $1 million, which is used, in part, to help fund all other society programs, including advocacy, career services, awards, national meetings, National Chemistry Week, governance activities, and too many other benefits to list here. At one-sixteenth of total dues revenue, my contribution in exchange for these benefits was about $10 last year.
We are fortunate that ACS Publications and Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) provide robust annual contributions to the society. It is these net contributions that allow ACS to so effectively pursue its mission “to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people.”...  
It is truly surprising to me how little is left for what I would consider societal activities, i.e. national meetings; I guess what matters is what the ACS Pubs and CAS contribution to society activities actually is.



  2. Yes, a million bucks per year. Thanks for the memories.

  3. Why no dues reduction for digital C&EN?

    1. I asked about that at least 5 years ago. Maybe ten? Whenever they started offering it.

      I expect it will eventually go the way of my beloved Organic Syntheses volumes, again without reduction in dues.

  4. 3 million to remind people to pay dues... I believe it since I kept receiving thick envelopes filled with reminders to resubscribe for many months after I already paid up.

  5. I left the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) about ten years ago when my employer stopped paying my dues. They are STILL calling me at work every couple of months trying to get me to rejoin.

    I wouldn't give them the satisfaction. I sent them a registered letter last month threatening to obtain a cease and desist order and to file a complaint for harassing phone calls. We'll see if that works.

  6. Industry does benchmarking and best practices comparisons all the time. How does the ACS compare with other scientific societies- APS, AAAS, IEEE, etc., when the publishing side of ACS and these other organizations are factored out? I have had the pleasure to know and work with many ACS staff over the years; I am just not sure how efficient the overall organization is.
    National meetings are supposed to be self supporting, but the record over the past 5 years or so has been mixed. The idea of "ACS Meeting A La Carte", turning selected symposia at national meetings into live webinars for the 92% of ACS members that don't attend the national meetings could help. Like current webinars, ACS members could view and participate in a symposia for some minimal fee, say $15 for a half day. This would be a member benefit and leverage the meeting content to provide additional revenue.

  7. All this time I thought my dues went to an amorphous black hole on 16th Street in Washington, DC.

    Kidding aside, however, it appears as though a full-on 60% of my dues goes on to run the business side of the American Chemical Society, or about $97. Makes me start to think a little.

  8. Surprised that no one has asked what happens to the profits from the ACS publishing house. After all, if the publishing house can afford to pay + $ 100,000 to a lawyer to threaten Google over Google Scholar (not to mention the ridiculously inappropriate salaries of the CEO, etc.) then they are generating a serious amount of money. Another elephant in the room?

  9. Not really the whole picture, is it?

    "At December 31, 2014, the American Chemical Society had approximately $1.3 billion in assets and annual operating revenues of about $531 million. The Society’s financial activities are reflected in two major categories – ACS Programs and the ACS Petroleum Research Fund."


    "That leaves about $1 million, which is used, in part, to help fund all other society programs, including advocacy, career services, awards, national meetings, National Chemistry Week, governance activities, and too many other benefits to list here."

    Your "nonprofit" organization in action, spending 0.2% of revenues on its mission.

    1. @Anon - wouldn't the Petroleum Research Fund be part of the ACS "mission" - it's helping fund research in chemistry. Don't let the name fool you; I was did molecular dynamics research at we had a PRF grant


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