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ANA in deficit despite budget cut

Varying membership levels, convention admission fees and Summer Seminar tuition hikes may be on the horizon as the American Numismatic Association deals with ongoing budget deficits.

ANA President Barry Stuppler presented his second annual State of the Association report at a Town Hall meeting Jan. 9 at the Florida United Numismatists 54th annual convention in Orlando.

“We face a critical juncture in the 118-year history of our association,” Stuppler  reported. “Membership in other hobby organizations is in decline, the economy is suffering through a serious recession, and the ANA faces ongoing budget deficits. The current leadership is working diligently to balance the budget and refocus efforts on the association’s core mission: education and providing services to our membership.”

And there is some good news.

In the past year, the ANA has reduced expenditures by $673,000, narrowing the projected 2008-2009 budget deficit from $1.4 million to less than $800,000, Stuppler said. But the ANA still faces mounting legal bills, an economic downturn and a softening of the coin market. Cash flow also continues as a serious problem, he said.

A large part of the endowment was dug into in the past to pay operating expenses, said ANA member Steve D’Ippolito.

“Is anything being done to hopefully prevent that from being done in the future?” he asked.

“We have made substantial improvements,” Stuppler said. The board and staff are working to make the association more cost effective by increasing revenue, reviewing costs and continually focusing on balancing the budget.

“By balancing the budget, we won’t have to dig into the endowment,” Stuppler said.

Executive Director Larry Shepherd has conducted an extensive financial analysis of ANA programs, Stuppler said, and has determined that programs such as Summer Seminar have been operating at a significant loss because of overhead costs. In fact, the ANA has lost about $300 per student during the past few years. In the future, tuition and fees will need to be raised, Stuppler said.
ANA board member Patti Jagger Finner noted that at ANA’s convention in Phoenix in spring 2008, the ANA lost $96,000 on the event. It did make a profit of $241,000 on the Baltimore convention in summer 2008.

“Are there any specific areas where we lost money?” asked ANA member Carl Schwenker.

It’s been due to “excesses in our spending stream,” Shepherd said.

But the ANA is looking closer at bringing down expenses, he said, looking, for instance, at the cost of decorators.

“It’s important that we make a profit at our coin shows,” Shepherd said.

Board member Cliff Mishler said in the past, the ANA hasn’t focused on profit centers. And that it must do.

In an overall effort to curb expenses, ANA staff has been reduced from 36 to 29.5 through attrition. It is also moving investments from managed accounts to mutual funds to save on fees, Stuppler  noted.

The ANA mutual fund endowment now stands at $2,175,465, while the Ben E. Keith stock is currently valued at $14.5 million.

“We also have a substantial capital base that does not show on our books, including rare and valuable books, and coins and paper money collections worth millions of dollars,” Stuppler reported.
A summary of 2008-2009 second quarter financials ending Sept. 30, 2008, puts total revenue at $3,025,502, about $50,000 shy of the budgeted $3,076,359. Expenses were $2,577,547, down more than $670,000 from the budgeted $3,251,211. Legal fees, however, came in at $417,620, more than double the budgeted $178,500.

“It will take the ANA at least another full fiscal year to recover from the unrealistic budgets from the past where some figures were inflated and some expenses understated,” Stuppler said.
“Legal fees continue to mount as a result of costs relating to the (Former Executive Director Chris) Cipoletti arbitration and new lawsuits involving eBay policy regarding the listing of certified coins. Still, better fiscal management, combined with new revenue opportunities and a focus on core functions should stabilize our finances.”

The ANA currently makes no money on membership dues, Stuppler noted. By offering new membership options, the ANA can become more affordable and relevant to a larger audience, he said.
“Our membership has been at about 30,000 for the past decade,” Stuppler said. “This is a period of growth in the hobby and we should be at 60,000.”

Stuppler outlined a possible membership structure, but noted that it will be open for full discussion as part of the 2009-2010 budget development process.

• Basic Membership – Full membership without the printed version of The Numismatist magazine.
• Regular Membership – Full membership with the printed magazine.
• Premium Membership – A value added membership with added services.
• Professional Membership – Full membership with mailed magazine, listing on Web site and other services.

Among the successes of the past year, Stuppler noted the establishment of the Florence Schook School of Numismatics, which will be accounted for as a separate entity allowing donors to fund specific classes and certification programs. NGC Settlement Funds totaling more than $400,000 were received and will be used to develop consumer awareness resources, online educational programs and Summer Seminar programs on consumer protection.

The ANA is considering admission charges to the Edward C. Rochette Museum, which could generate $35,000 annually. The fees would be waived for school groups, children ages 12 and under and ANA members. The ANA is also considering charging admission fees to non-members at conventions.

Among the gifts received by the ANA this past year was a $75,000 Summer Seminar donation from the Central States Numismatic Society, which was matched by $25,000 in funds from several member dealers and individuals. Bowers and Merena also has pledged to donate $50 for each of the first 600 ANA members who participate in the company’s annual auction survey.

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