Money Matters 4 (2012-2013)
Money Matters 4
2012 – 2013
Annually the Treasurer provides membership with a synthesis of the year’s fiscal report, along with the report itself, and an assessment of the organization based upon the perspective of current and anticipated financial conditions. Given my familiarity with SALALM since joining in 1970, this long-view perspective provides a basis for understanding the component parts of SALALM as they relate to our financial status as a non-profit, charitable organization.
SALALM maintains separate accounts for the Secretariat, Annual Conference, Endowment, and Tulane University with various restricted subaccounts (e.g., Enlace, donations, Libreros’ reception). Remaining balances are carried forward to the next fiscal year. All income and expenses are reported annually to the IRS on form 990. For FY 2012 – 2013 (1 Sept. – 31 Aug.) total income (including beginning balances) was $122,854.26 and total expenses $73,359.22. The final accounting of expenditures for conference 58 did not arrive before the fiscal year’s end so will appear in the current fiscal year. Conference 57’s profit of $18,018.71 arrived during the fiscal year. Such variations make strict comparisons between fiscal years impractical for many categories of income and expenses associated with the annual conference. Please consult the Financial Report for complete details.
Two categories exist: personal and institutional and both have options. Income from this source remains our most important revenue stream at $28,440 that includes 17 sponsoring institutional members. We remain highly appreciative of this level of support, often arranged by SALALM members working for our sponsoring institutional members. Because of our heavy reliance on membership income for operational expenses, prompt payment in September facilitates the year’s planning. We provide a 3-year renewal option at the current fee, and strive to promote an increase in student memberships. By encouraging new memberships, SALALM deepens its expertise and broadens the impact of its programs and services.
Much of the SALALM’s substance comprises different initiatives devoted to specific aspects of education, ranging from preparing publications on Latin American topics, to strengthening ties with Latin American librarians and archivists through their sponsored participation in the annual conference, to creating workshops and panels on a wide range of topics. An important recent initiative, now in its third year, is the award of 4 or 5 merit scholarships to MA-level students in Library Schools committed to a professional career in academic libraries, special collections or archives devoted to Latin American, Caribbean or Iberian materials.
Members’ involvement is fundamental to SALALM’s success in most of its endeavors. Through the decades SALALM members have contributed significantly to enabling the study of Latin America, the Caribbean and Iberia. As new generations of expertise arise, we incorporate those perspectives into the varied opportunities presented by committee and conference work. Some key functions, such as copy editing the conference papers and managing the endowment portfolio, are paid positions given the specific professional requirements.
This remains our most important activity and as such constitutes a major commitment of time by many members and of expenditures by SALALM. Host institutions provide substantial financial and in-kind assistance, thereby significantly reducing costs to SALALM. In financial terms we have come to rely upon host institutions able to secure reasonably priced lodging and meeting rooms, as well as to underwrite some of the conference’s costs of local transport, printing, IT, and personnel to assist at registration. Profits from conferences contribute appreciably to support locations where lower costs prove impossible to obtain.
Based at Tulane University’s Latin American Library, the Secretariat is the administrative part of SALALM responsible for maintaining our daily operations that include receiving income and dispersing checks to meet such expenses as editing conference papers, printing SALALM publications, conference-related charges, and banking that includes credit cards, PayPal, and bank charges. The Program Coordinator’s salary and benefits, both within the pay and benefit structure of Tulane, come entirely from SALALM but are paid into the Tulane account, thereby making the position wholly one of the University and not of SALALM. From an administrative and financial perspective, this arrangement is highly beneficial to SALALM. Hosting the Secretariat involves a major commitment for the institution to provide personnel (i.e., the Executive Director), space and such services as telephone, IT assistance, mailroom support and access to student assistants. This institutional commitment by Tulane represents a significant cost savings that in turn enables SALALM to undertake the various projects that support our overall mission.
Although regular expenditures such as salaries, editing, printing, and bank charges are fairly predictable, the evolving interests of membership and arising opportunities present some challenges to calculating costs and ensuring that such expenditures are feasible given our income. For several years, committee and subcommittee chairs have had the opportunity to develop budget proposals well in advance of the annual meetings of the Finance Committee. More forward thinking and discussion about what SALALM should do in the future must occur throughout the year, so that informed decisions can emerge during the annual meeting of the finance committee.
As is the case with most non-profit organizations dedicated to education, an endowment is essential for securing operations during times of financial shortfalls, as well as to provide an income stream to support pilot projects and special initiatives. The income sources include donations and a bequest from members, reinvested interest, dividends and capital gains, and income from membership dues. Donations began in FY 1979 – 1980 and annually the option appears with the membership renewal form. For many years the Investment Working Group within the Finance Committee determined the purchase and sale of mutual funds. Given the complexity of financial markets and the recognition of the value with professional management, TIAA-CREF was selected to manage the account with an allocation of around 3% cash, 47% bonds and 50% in equities. The transfer and sale of existing shares in Vanguard, Fidelity and Franklin/Templeton occurred in June, and at the close of the fiscal year, the balance was $884,563.26. Dividends and interest amounted to $17,707.89, and capital gain distributions added $2,500.54.
Throughout the fiscal year slow times are few, and with this year the arrangements for the transfer of the endowment to TIAA-CREF involved a great deal of paperwork and communications with various parts of that organization. Assembly of information for the IRS is increasingly involved given the range of activities of SALALM, scale of the organization’s assets, and changes in reporting requirements. A CPA handles preparation of the return, and in the course of his work, a number of procedural and policy areas have arisen that require tightening. Throughout the course of the year, everyone relies on Carol Avila, the Program Coordinator, for her problem-solving skills, knowledge of the organization, and ability to manage financial data. Much goes through the Internet, so we are fortunate to have Melissa Gasparotto overseeing the Web presence, along with Daisy Domínguez and her successor Betsaida Reyes. Social media, long-range planning and organizational efficiency have benefitted greatly from the wisdom and knowledge of Jesús Alonso-Regalado and Alison Hicks. Overall, we are indebted to Tulane University for hosting the Secretariat and providing SALALM with its incisive Executive Director Hortensia Calvo. One realizes that accomplishments are due to collective action, responsible leadership and creativity. SALALM is in good shape financially, ready and able to continue re-inventing itself to meet the coming challenges.
Peter T. Johnson,
Treasurer New York City
15 March 2014