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ANA on road to financial stability

You heard it here first: The ANA has just landed a man on the moon. Or at least it seems that way.

For the first time in almost anyone’s memory, the ANA submitted a balanced budget to the Board of Governors for fiscal year 2009-10.

That’s right, after operating in the red – often with $1 million deficits – for 12 of the past 13 years, our annual operating budget beginning April 1 shows a surplus of $136,065. That’s after entering the 2008-09 fiscal year with a projected $1.4 million deficit.

All of this was done in one year without layoffs and without diminishing membership services. Yes there have been sacrifices, but mostly this is about a great organization, focused leadership and a hard-working staff teaming together to turn a crisis into an opportunity.

I’m proud to report that your ANA has, in 12 short months, emerged from the depths of despair to a much more financially stable organization. And while this is worthy of celebration, we must also realize that our work has just begun.

After I became executive director in April 2008, ANA staff and I rolled up our sleeves and began the difficult task of tearing up the fiscal 2008-09 budget and locking down discretionary expenditures. We then completed an analysis of personnel, programs and priorities.

Here’s what I found: A very capable staff whose work was often focused on tasks that are not critical to the ANA mission, and a number of unjustified expenditures which were habitually placed in the budget.

As a group, we decided to focus our efforts on membership services, convention appeal and education – including expanded choices at Summer Seminar. Then we slashed expenses by $796,000 – 18 percent – in the first nine months of fiscal year 2008-09. At the same time, we increased revenues, largely due to increased donations from very generous supporters.

Even with these extraordinary cuts, our budget deficit for the current fiscal year ending March 31 will be about $800,000 – in no small part because legal expenses totaling $546,000 wiped out many of our gains. We hope that legal expenses will be greatly diminished in the 2009-10 fiscal year and have some reason for optimism.

The current value of the ANA’s Ben E. Keith stock holdings is now about $10 million – up from $7.7 million one year ago. In addition, the Board approved an agreement to allow the Ben E. Keith Company to purchase back $5 million in stock; that $5 million will allow the ANA to further diversify its investments – a wise move in any portfolio.

Compared with a year ago, the ANA’s financial position seems almost other-worldly. And therein lays the danger. Once upon a time, the ANA had a robust endowment and seemingly endless resources. Those days are long gone. And difficult economic times could prove difficult for the next few years.

Moving forward, we must be vigilant, focused, fiscally responsible and, most importantly, exactly what our members expect us to be: the best educational and hobby support organization in numismatics. We must also understand the changing nature of collectors and their increased reliance on the Internet for information and social networking, and capitalize on that trend.

A year ago, this 118-year-old Association was at a crossroads and has responded exceptionally well. But one thing is certain: We can’t afford another trip to the moon. Let’s work together to ensure that the ANA is the one organization this hobby can never live without.

Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Numismatic News.
To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send e-mail to david.harper@fwpubs.com.   

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