Bar News - July 21, 2006
New Hampshire Bar Association Budget Questions and Answers
How is the budget created and approved?
The Finance Committee, chaired by the president-elect, works with the management staff to develop a proposed budget based on projections of continued, new, changed or discontinued programming and services. The proposed budget is presented to the full Board of Governors for approval, and is then presented to the membership through publication in Bar News. Also, a separate information session is held at the Bar Center for member questions and comments. This year’s budget information session will be scheduled for a date in September … watch Bar News and the weekly e-Bulletins for the date.
Are the financials audited? What do the auditors say?
The financials of the New Hampshire Bar Association are audited on an annual basis by an independent CPA firm. For a number of years, the auditors’ notes and comments have been brief, expressing no serious concerns, and we have received an unqualified opinion on the audited financials. At the request of the Board of Governors, our auditors also prepare a Management Report identifying areas where improvements can be made. Management then takes steps to address these suggestions from the auditors.
What is the size of the budget? What are the major components?
Total Revenue Budget for 2006 – 2007 $ 3,332,220
(Includes all dues, CLE revenues, grants, publication revenues, fundraising, and other non-dues revenue.)
Membership Dues (approximately 40% of revenue) $ 1,319,134
Continuing Legal Education Product Revenue $ 738,000
Non-CLE Publications & Advertising Revenue $ 267,000
Revenue from Grants $ 496,000
Total Personnel Expenses (Salary, benefits, taxes, insurance) $ 1,996,000
Overhead and Program Expenses $ 1,337,000
Virtually all activities of the NHBA are service-related; hence the single largest expense in the budget is staffing to carry out those services. Of the 35 full-time and 3 part-time positions in the budget, 11 are funded in whole or in part by grants.
That’s a big budget – how does it affect dues?
The majority of the Association’s revenue (approximately 60%) is generated from non-dues sources, and we continually seek out additional such opportunities to minimize the impact on dues. Membership dues for active members of the Bar were increased by $15 in 2006-2007, the first such increase since the 2003-2004 fiscal year. According to information collected by the American Bar Association, NHBA dues are in the average range nationally, and the percentage of revenue from dues is one of the lowest in the country. (New Hampshire’s highest dues category rate of $265 should not be confused with fees for the Supreme Court Professional Conduct Committee or the Public Protection Fund, which the Bar collects as a courtesy for the court and as a convenience for members.)
Were there any increases in NH Bar Association dues or Supreme Court fees this year?
NH Bar Association dues for active members increased by a total of $15 for 2006-07. Of this increase, $10 represents the first hike covering increased costs and programming in three years. The balance of the increase is the first in a series of planned annual $5 increases to offset the additional occupancy cost of providing more space for member use at our new location. In addition, voluntary Section dues were increased $10, to $40 per year, to offset the increasing costs of providing support to the 21 Sections and their members. Rather than increase inactive member dues, the Board of Governors voted to discontinue the free mailing of the NH Bar Journal to inactive members, who may choose to subscribe to the NH Bar Journal at a special NH Bar member rate. Each issue of the Bar Journal is also available on-line at no cost.
Why do we make money on CLE?
The NHBA CLE program is designed to offer high-quality continuing legal education, specific to New Hampshire law, in a variety of formats and covering a wide range of subject and experience levels to meet member needs – by generating revenue for the Association it reduces our dependence on membership dues to fund programs and initiatives. Our Online CLE program, which is available 24/7 through www.nhbar.org, has proved to be very popular with NH Bar members, and our new “CLEtoGo” program offers another educational option to our members who own MP3 players. The pricing of the programs is below market cost, and participant evaluations indicate consistently high quality and value. The Association’s recent move to 2 Pillsbury Street will allow most CLE programs to be conducted in-house, and provide the Association with greater control over the cost of providing live programs to our members. The CLE Club offers NHBA members a volume discount, and if a member is experiencing financial hardship impacting his or her ability to attend, he or she is encouraged to contact the CLE program to inquire about the availability of scholarships.
What are Reserve Funds, and how do they work?
Reserve Funds are recommended for most not-for-profit organizations and are used most often to set aside funds to ensure an organization’s long-term viability in the case of unforeseen events, as well as to build funds to pay for future significant capital expenditures or other special projects. This year’s budget anticipates drawing funds from reserves to replace outdated equipment, subsidize the cost of providing Casemaker at no additional cost to all members of the Bar Association, and reduce the amount of the dues increase.
NH Bar Association's Budget 2006 - 2007 (pdf)