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Message From the President

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Hello MAFS Members,

 

Mark your calendars for September 17th - 21st, 2018 and plan to attend the 47th Annual MAFS Fall Meeting in Indianapolis!  The Fall Meeting Planning Committee and the local meeting planners have all been investing a great deal of time and effort into preparing the kind of high caliber meeting MAFS is known for.  The final details for the meeting are coming together, the workshops are set and the meeting registration is now open!  Check out the Fall Meeting page on our website (www.MAFS.net) for all the latest information and the link to the meeting registration site.  Don’t forget to answer the Call for Papers and Posters located with the meeting information in this newsletter.  We need your participation to ensure a successful meeting!

 

I am deeply appreciative of all the remarkable people on the various committees and particularly those serving on the board of directors.  Many dedicate a considerable amount of their personal time to their MAFS positions and work very hard to improve the organization.  The Spring Committee Meetings were held in Chicago on March 24th.  The Spring Board of Director’s meeting was held on April 28th, also in Chicago.  The meetings were all very productive, generating some great ideas to continue to improve our organization.  Please take a look at the committee reports later in this newsletter for information on their accomplishments and plans.  For a detailed account of the Board of Director’s Meeting, please see the meeting minutes, which are published later in this newsletter.  Admittedly, the meeting minutes are not a particularly riveting read, but they are an excellent way for the membership to stay informed about what is happening within the organization, I encourage everyone to check them out. 

 

At the spring board meeting, we had a long day with a very full agenda, but we were able to get a great deal accomplished.  There are a couple of things from the meeting that warrant being highlighted here.  Ken Eilert and the Electronic Communications Committee informed us that the software service we have utilized for several years for our website design, hosting and databasing has announced they will shut down their service in May 2020.  This means we must find new hosting services for our website; but it also means we have an opportunity to implement some improvements to the website functionality and design.  We are just beginning the discussions about this, but high on our wish list is to significantly improve the management capabilities and access of our member data, including making it significantly easier for a member to keep their information up to date.  If you have suggestions for improvements to the website, please reach out to a board member or a member of the Electronic Communications Committee.  No matter what we end up doing, it is going to translate to a lot of work for the committee, so if you run into one of them, please take a moment to thank them!

 

Another big topic of discussion at the board meeting was about the budget for the organization.  I want to take a few moments to give you a little background on the financial workings of our organization and to bring you up to date on where we are now financially as an organization, and where we are headed.  Each year the board discusses, and votes on, an overall budget for the organization.  With the implementation of separate meeting and operations treasurers this year, we have decided to now maintain two separate budgets: one for meetings/workshops and one for operations.  The operating budget includes the expenses for the day to day operations of the organization (e.g. supplies, bank fees from dues collections, accounting expenses, insurance and website maintenance, etc.) as well as the travel and expenses associated with the Board of Director’s meetings and the spring committee meetings.  The meeting budget includes the expenses associated with putting on the spring workshops and the fall meetings, the costs of the software systems used for registrations and programs, bank fees associated with being able to accept credit card payments, and any revenue realized from the workshops and fall meeting.

 

In addition to the overall meeting budget described above, each spring workshop has its own budget, which is developed by the workshop coordinator and the T&E Committee.  Each fall meeting also has its own budget, which is developed by the Fall Meeting Planning Committee.  All of these budgets are approved by the board.  The budgets for these events are always a little bit of a financial gamble, since we can never be certain of the level of participation the events will have.  The spring workshops are each budgeted with the intent to break even.  Sometimes the workshop will fall short of expectations and the board will have to decide to either cancel the workshop or subsidize it from our organizations savings and sometimes the workshop will exceed our expectations resulting in an overall revenue.  We approach the individual fall meeting budgets slightly differently.  We design this budget with the intent of producing an overall revenue of approximately $10,000; this allows a little bit of buffer to help cover a lower than expected attendance and/or unexpected expenses. 

 

The overall amount of money involved in putting on the fall meeting is substantial, and as a result, the potential for financial risk to the organization is always a factor to be wary of.  We now have a number of safeguards in place to minimize this risk and many of our meetings end up producing revenue for the organization.   The board is working hard to use this money responsibly to keep MAFS in a strong financial position and to benefit the membership as much as possible.  MAFS has fully recovered from the financial trouble we landed in after the 2014 meeting and we have come out the other side strong.  Going forward, we intend to keep a substantial savings on hand, not only to guard against another catastrophic financial event, but also because we are now seeing a trend where hotels are requiring much more substantial down payments (up to $100,000) far in advance of the fall meetings. 

 

As our organization grows and develops, so too does the cost of maintaining that growth.  MAFS has not increased the membership dues since 2007, yet MAFS operating expenses have continued to rise.  As a result, the membership dues now barely cover our standard operating costs.  Each year, the board evaluates if it will have to raise the dues to cover costs; but so far, we have been able to avoid it.  Rather than raise the membership dues, the board relies on the safety net of being able to supplement the operating budget from savings and revenue realized in the meeting budget if need be.  In addition to keeping the membership dues low; we also use past meeting revenue to cover some of the upcoming fall meeting expenses.  This helps to keep the fall meeting registration costs as reasonable as possible.

 

The board is always looking for ways to “give back” to the membership.  In 2017 and again this year, the board voted to give a $100 discount to all MAFS members registering for Spring Workshops.  Additionally, we offer a number of programs such as the Professional Development Fund Award, the Collegiate Student Development Fund, and the Visiting Scientist program.  The board is also currently working on developing some new initiatives for this year and beyond.

 

As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me or any of the board members.  I hope you all enjoy the rest of the summer, and I look forward to seeing you in Indianapolis!

 

 

Ted Manasian

MAFS President

Ted Manasian

MAFS President

 



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