Why are my district dues increasing?

  • Posted on: 3 November 2017
  • By: David Smith

The District Board has recommended a dues increase for 2018 of $20 per regular member, and an increase of $10 per convention. Your House of Delegates (generally, you are represented by your Chapter President) has voted to approve that recommendation. If you're a member who goes to both conventions every year, starting January 1 you'll be paying the District the equivalent of up to $0.77 more per week to continue to enjoy this great art form. We think that's pretty reasonable, but we know you likely have some questions about the increase. To help clarify some things we thought we'd pre-emptively answer some below.

What are my dues currently, and what are they going to be?

Currently, Ontario District dues are $65.00 for regular members, $32.50 for youth (under 26) and seniors (over 70). With the rate increase, dues will be $85 for regular members, $42.50 for youth and seniors.

For comparison, here are the current dues for the 17 districts in the Society. There are two different seniors categories to account for members who were grandfathered because they reached age 70 before Dec 31st, 2009 (Senior Legacy – SL) and SN who are Seniors who have attained 70 years since Dec 31st, 2009.

By the way, take a close look at the SN seniors on this table. Some pay 75% of their regular district dues, one pays 85% and one pays 100%. In Ontario our seniors all pay only 50% of the regular rate and we plan to maintain that for the time being. But we may eventually have to come into line with the BHS who also charge Society dues to SNs at 75% of the Regular rate.

District Regular Youth 2 Senior SL Senior SN
Carolinas $25.00 $12.50 $12.50 $12.50
Central States $32.00 $16.00 $16.00 $24.00
Dixie $32.00 $16.00 $16.00 $24.00
Evergreen $41.00 $20.50 $20.50 $30.75
Far Western $25.00 $12.50 $12.50 $12.50
Illinois $35.00 $17.50 $17.50 $17.50
Cardinal $35.00 $17.50 $17.50 $17.50
Johnny Appleseed $25.00 $12.50 $12.50 $12.
Land O' Lakes $24.00 $12.00 $24.00 $24.00
Pioneer $30.00 $15.00 $15.00 $22.50
Mid-Atlantic $25.00 $12.50 $12.50 $18.75
Northeastern $25.00 $14.00 $14.00 $14.00
Ontario $65.00 $32.50 $32.50 $32.50
Senecaland $38.00 $19.00 $19.00 $19.00
Southwestern $48.00 $24.00 $24.00 $24.00
Sunshine $25.00 $12.50 $12.50 $18.50
Rocky Mountain $33.00 $16.50 $28.00 $28.00

Why are my dues higher than other districts?

It's true, our District already has the highest dues Society-wide, even before the increase. What gives?

Well, part of it is because of the exchange rate. Our dues are displayed on the table above in Canadian dollars, while all others are displayed in US dollars. Even after accounting for the exchange rate, though, our Regular remain the highest.

District Regular Youth 2 Senior SL Senior SN
Ontario $52.00 $26.00 $26.00 $26.00

Dues adjusted from CAD to USD 

But wait, there's also district expenses in US dollars. When we send our judges to category and Candidate schools, when we send our district leaders for training, when we pay for advertising at International, when we pay a percentage of our income to the BHS for collecting dues, and when we pay insurance, we appear to pay 25% more than what other districts pay. This is because all of our accounts are maintained (displayed) in Canadian dollars, but these expenses and others are billed in US dollars. As an Ontarian, you're probably already pretty familiar with that concept.

Another reason is that we're one of only four districts who support our International competitors in competition with the OntaFame fund or something similar (the others being JAD, SWD, and MAD). A portion of all district dues and convention registrations are allocated to a fund that helps to support our quartets, seniors quartets, youth quartets, and choruses in International competition. Ontario leads in the level of support provided and we can justifiably take pride in the Onta-Fame Fund and the help that it provides.

What does convention registration cost now, and what is it going to be?

Right now, convention registration costs $60 for Early Bird registrations, $70 for regular registration. Students are half price, and there are discounts for families. Partial registrations are available for each session at a cost fo $30. With the registration increase, Early Bird registrations will be $70, regular registrations will be $80. The student and family rates will be raised proportionally. Single event registrations will be available at a cost of $35. 

When do the increases take effect?

January 1, 2018 for the dues increases, and Fall Convention 2018 for the registration increases.

Where do my membership dues go?

Below is a breakdown of how the regular dues of $85 are split across the district's expenses.Where do my convention registration go?

Below is a breakdown of how a registration of $70 is allocated across the various expenses of a convention.
Why Now?

Our district conventions have become less profitable recently as attendance has slowly declined. While they used to be major sources of income for the district, recently we have been scarcely breaking even with our annual conventions.

What other options were considered?

The district has considered, and will continue to consider, all sorts of novel ideas and cost-saving measures. We thought about just using the cash we have on hand to finance the deficit, but we don't view that as good for the long-term benefit of the district. We're thinking of ways to get more cost efficient on specific items such as insurance, archiving, riser storage and transportation, and the additional funds we inject into the OntaFame fund. These are just a few of cost efficiency strategies that we are studying, but changes cannot be made immediately since alternatives need to be put in place in order to maintain services. We got outside the box and considered an option that considerably raised district dues but allowed members to attend both district convention at no cost, but the financials didn't work out. We have also looked at reductions in member services. While we do not want to reduce services, we're also looking at cost efficiencies in combining certain events.

When was the last dues increase?

In 2004, regular member dues were increased from $45.00 to $65.00 per year.

When was the last increase in convention registration?

In Fall 2012, convention registration increased from $50 for Early Bird and $55 for regular registration to the $60/$70 it is now.

Have you thought about doing [insert idea here] instead, to help cut down expenses or increase revenue?

We think we've been pretty creative with trying to save money and come up with some new ideas, but we certainly don't have all the answers. Maybe you know a place that would be just perfect for a convention that would cost us considerably less. Maybe you have an in at a huge AV place that will donate a lot of expensive sound and lighting equipment every convention and volunteer to operate it. You can suggest your ideas to any member of our board by email, phone, or in-person. But for the time being, and until that happens, we need these increases to stay sustainable as a district. 

Where can I find out more?

The Minutes and Reports page of the website has many financial reports and budgets going back a couple of years from the district House of Delegates meetings every spring and fall. By all means call  (647-588-7240) or write to me directly (OntdistrictFinance@gmail.com) with your questions, ideas and suggestions. You can also chat with any Board member, VP, Coordinator, committee chair, or other district contact. Ideas and suggestions are always welcome, as are voluteers to help shape the future direction of the district. There are a number of positions open and spots on committees. If this topic (financials) interests you in particular, why not consider becoming the District Financial Reviewer, with an eye to becoming the Treasurer or VP Finance down the road?