The NHBA Board of Governors, in collaboration with the NHBA Finance Committee, is in the process of preparing an Association budget for the fiscal year that begins June 1, 2008.
Members of the Board of Governors and the Finance Committee met in a joint, daylong working session on March 27 to discuss the Bar Association operating budget for the 2008-2009 fiscal year starting June 1.
As you no doubt have experienced in your own practice and household, these are challenging economic times. The Bar Association is not immune from the difficulties of trying to reconcile rising expenses with revenue streams that are limited in their growth. At the same time, we are coping with the dilemma facing service organizations and businesses: meeting demands for greater responsiveness and services in an ever-changing environment that penalizes those who do not adapt or innovate.
For your Bar Association, that means keeping costs to members as low as possible while providing services and programs to serve a diverse group of members, as well as some services to the public and the justice system.
Less than half the Associationís budget (approximately 40 percent) comes from the mandatory dues that you pay. Our entire Pro Bono Referral Program is funded by grants and fundraising (such as the Pro Bono Golf Tournament and a portion of the Campaign for Legal Services proceeds). Our NHBA CLE program and advertising in Association publications account for significant non-dues revenue, although both services are operated with expenses that reflect a priority on member services, not profit.
This year, with expenses rising, the Board of Governors and the Finance Committee face difficult choices. The Board is striving to maintain a balance of services and activities that meets our responsibilities and obligations in the most effective and efficient manner possible. The Boardís deliberations and ultimately the decisions to be made reflect our attempt to address the needs of the greatest number of Bar members.
Support for section programming remains an area for collaboration. Several years ago, the Bar undertook to provide greater staff support to the Sections, with the goal of encouraging participation and interaction within these voluntary sub-groups of the Bar. That effort has succeeded, but not without cost. The Board continues to work with Section leaders on finding ways to accommodate section programming aspirations within a cost structure that does not unduly burden Association members who do not participate in section activity, or who are less interested in earning CLE credit through section meetings.
Some other ideas under consideration include: