The American Legion of Montana
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AMERICAN LEGION OF MONTANA2016SPRING DISTRICT MEETINGS ...
Dear Legion Family Members and Friends,
Why a dues increase, and why now?
The American Legion National Executive Committee passed a resolution in May 2015 to bring before this year’s National Convention a $5 dues increase to take effect next January. Nearly a decade will have passed since the last national dues increase. Such a recommendation did not come easily, but history shows the call must be made from time to time in an organization like ours, where the need for services and programs grows, the cost to provide them rises, and the primary revenue stream – membership dues – remains the same or declines over time.
Specific economic realities led to the recommendation. They include:
•A 16-percent reduction in overall membership since the last dues increase in 2007.
•U.S. cost-of-living growth of 13 percent since 2007.
•Reduced income from American Legion investments due to the recession and the general economic downturn.
•Employee health-insurance benefits having climbed 13.2 percent since the last dues increase.
•The erosion of the value of each dollar, at a rate of 1.44 percent per year, resulting in more than $1 million of additional annual cost.
National Headquarters has worked to offset the need for a dues increase and is making progress in the areas of fundraising, corporate relationships and cost reduction through online transactions. Those efforts, however, are just getting off the ground.
For instance, if we use the five-year-old non-member fundraising program as a model, we can expect two and a half years to pass before new fundraising initiatives start netting positive and begin growing – as the non-member fundraising program now does. Also, by investing in new technology to ease automatic renewal and improve online joining, the cost per member transaction falls from 85 cents to 11 cents. So far, about 230,000 members (and growing) use the online joining and renewing services, but that’s still only a little over 10 percent.
New revenue streams and cost reductions based on improved efficiency are heading in the right direction, but they need time to grow and gain traction.
More importantly, as a wave of new veterans re-enters civilian life, The American Legion cannot reduce its commitment or capacity to help them and their families. The need for trained service officers has rarely been so profound in U.S. history. Career events for veterans, homeless advocacy, benefits assistance, help with medical appointments, wholesome programs for young people, protection of our flag and support for America’s troops are just some of the reasons now is not the time to divest from our time-honored commitment.