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IABC numbers good in tough year.

Despite a deepening of the recession worldwide--and tough times for organizations and their communicators--IABC managed to post good numbers in fiscal year 1990-91. The association's financial results proved surprisingly strong. Budgeted to generate $144,000 of revenue over expenses, IABC finished the year $140,000 in the black or 97 percent of goal.

Membership renewals stayed on track and new members were at 90 percent of goal as communicators seemed to appreciate the value of being part of a professional association that could provide support, encouragement and networking opportunities. Since 50 percent of our operating income comes from membership dues, member retention and growth were and remain high priorities.

It was hard to find statistical information on the extent of the recession's effect on communicators, but few members were unaffected. Many lost their jobs. For a while last year, four members of IABC's executive board were among the unemployed. Many members, looking apprehensively over their shoulders, polished their resumes before the ax could fall. And for practically everybody, it was a case of finding ways to be more effective with fewer resources.

Although overall IABC did well financially, participation in some individual programs was down. Gold Quill suffered a financial shortfall against budgeted revenues of $50,000 and a superb international conference in Washington, D.C. was only a break-even event. It was difficult to know if it was because of members' tighter budgets or because individuals, under pressure to produce more with less, simply had less time to devote to personal professional development offerings.

Based on the results of the marketing research conducted by MSI, International, IABC moved aggressively to develop plans to strike a balance between exploiting new opportunities and strengthening programs with a proven record of success. Nine new/revised programs and services were designed, cost projections developed, budgets designed and marketing plans developed and implemented.

Possibly the most striking finding to emerge from the marketing study is the fact that all members--from entry level to senior level--want information more than anything else from their association. This need/desire for information takes precedence over education, networking and all other programs and benefits. This puts IABC squarely in the information business -- and finding ways to gather, package and disseminate information may offer the best opportunity for serving members and generating revenue for the association.

The 1991 international conference attracted 895 full registrants and there were 1,125 people on site in Washington, helping to bring us to 92 percent of conference revenue goal. Expenses were at 104 percent of goal. Though we missed our profit goal, the overall result was gratifying given travel restrictions imposed at the beginning of 1991 because of the Gulf War and the ongoing recession.

A significant start was made last year to wrestle with the dilemma of how to manage international growth and deliver affordable services to all members, without losing money. This may be the biggest challenge facing IABC since retiring the financial deficit. An international task force headed by former chairman Sharon Paul, ABC, started the process by reviewing IABC's first two decades of international development and then by posing a series of tough questions whose answers will dictate the next steps. This work provided a starting point for the executive board to begin exploring various international scenarios in its January 1992 long-range planning session.

The association came to grips with two difficult and emotionally charged issues in 1991. One was the successful conclusion of the local-only conversion campaign. By eliminating this category of "membership" among U.S. chapters, IABC ended years of debate and discussion by executive board, dating back to the mid-1970s. In the words of Patty Gundry, membership marketing vice president on staff, "The success of this campaign means not only the end of this issue, but also a positive step forward for the association."

The other issue was whether or not to charter a new chapter in southern Africa. After a year of gathering member input, assessing kind reassessing the pros and cons, and developing strong communication links with the members attempting to form the chapter, the executive board moved decisively to approve the charter. It was felt that by having a strong presence in southern Africa, IABC could be an active force working for change there. In October I visited chapter leaders in Johannesburg and had an opportunity to see firsthand that IABC made the right decision in supporting these communicators who are making a difference.

The IABC staff was strengthened when two qualified professionals assumed greater responsibilities as part of our management team. Chris Grossgart, formerly manager of leader services, moved to vice president of professional development. Cheryl Carter, manager of member services, became vice president of information services. The 1992 conference in San Francisco provides an opportunity to meet these and other staff members.

Although there a few indications that the reccession may be slowing, economists doubt that there will be a dramatic turnaround. Rather economic recovery probably will be steady but slow. Few organizations that have "downsized" are apt to return to former staffing levels. As communicators do more with less or continue to enter the entrepreneurial ranks, IABC can be the professional constant.

The challange is finding ways to strengthen the networking process and to facilitate the exchange of information on a global basis. Providing programs and services -- in a cost-efficient manner -- will require the energetic efforts of volunteers and staff working together in strong partnership.


Even though ad sales started dropping off at the end of the year, Communication World and WorldBook managed to stay under budget on expenses and over budget on revenue. Both WorldBook and Communication World continue to be among the highest rated association benefits. Communication World, in particular, tackled some tough issues through not only editorial features in the magazine, but also with special supplements and fax polls to serve immediate needs and to obtain reader response. A special issue in January focused on the recession and included a supplement to help meet members' needs for information and assistance. During the Gulf War, a fax poll also generated information on how members were dealing with the crisis.

In addition to producing Communication World and the WorldBook, the desktop publishing division also provided production for other IABC projects.

We worked closely with L.C. Williams & Associates and the Canada Resource Service in public relations efforts which resulted in a succession of media coverage for the association, particularly the IABC Research Foundation, the international conference, Communication World and WorldBook. Media coverage throughout the year was positive, particularly concerning the "Excellence" study. The Wall Street Journal featured some of the findings resulting in many requests for more information. Special issues of Communication World also received good coverage. The agreement for trade of services with L.C. Williams & Associates appears to be working out to the advantage of both IABC and L.C. Williams.


Changes at the IABC Communication Bank in 1991 included the hiring of a new manager and an additional staff member, both with extensive communication backgrounds. Staff created many new handbooks, incorporated 1990 and 1991 Gold Quill award-winning case studies and videos into its files, and continued to produce STEALSHEET, the monthly newsletter for IABC chapter newsletter editors. Because of the Communication Bank's growing visibility among communication professionals, it has become an increasingly important information source for communicators. The Bank received approximately 600 to 800 information requests per month and sold more than 7,000 publications in the 1990-91 fiscal year.


The 1991 Gold Quill awards program featured the first trilingual call for entries brochure and accepted for the first time entries in French, Spanish, and English. By the January 23 deadline, the program attracted 1,505 member and 539 nonmember entries. Entrants from 11 countries outside the U.S. and Canada participated in the program. Two tiers of tough judges spent many hours screening entries and ultimately chose 131 winners as the finest communication examples for the Gold Quill honor.


1991 saw a slight increase over 1990 in membership numbers, mainly because of exceeding the retention goal for the fiscal year. A larger percentage of chapters participated in the major marketing campaign -- this, in addition to ongoing local efforts, helped to bring in 2,692 new members.

Retention work increased in 1991 and we found people are positive about the association and the benefits of membership. However, the recession has had an impact on our members: We saw an increased number of members being laid off, companies not paying for memberships as readily and people working as consultants until they find their next corporate job.

Increased membership -- as well as increased benefits of membership -- in 1992 is an important goal for the association.


IABC leaders were increasingly challenged to find members who could commit to key volunteer positions in 1991. The slow economy had an effect on voluntarism since members had less time to contribute to IABC board and committee work. The Leader Satisfaction Survey conducted in March showed leaders wanted more support from IABC as volunteer resources decreased.

IABC rallied with more support for leaders in volunteer recruitment and management, and leadership training. Articles in Leader Letter, workshops, and a general session at the Chapter Management Forum focused on effectively recruiting and managing volunteers. Leadership training was dramatically improved with the release of the Board Orientation Program in June and an expanded orientation for the international executive board. The new guidelines for chapter chartering included a step-by-step process for building a healthy chapter as well as a valuable marketing plan format.

The November Chapter Management Forum in Dallas, Texas, was the most successful to date, attracting 170 leaders from 85 chapters around the world. The two-and-one-half day meeting incorporated new sessions on marketing the Research Foundation's "Excellence" results, selling the value of membership, using market research, and astute financial management. The highlights were Mike Heron's general session on volunteers, Carol Kinsey Goman's leadership presentation, Sharon Wamble's session on "Dimensions of Diversity," a strategic planning breakout led by Les Potter, ABC, and the Chapter Management Awards reception.

The Chapter Management Awards reception provided a venue for networking and celebration as the 1991 award-winning chapters were announced. IABC/Brazos Valley, a small chapter in College Station, Texas, was honored with the Chapter of the Year title. Outstanding award-winners were IABC/Michiana in the new chapter category, IABC/Regina in the medium chapter category, and IABC/Houston for large chapters. The program drew 80 entries, and generated considerable interest and enthusiasm for the 1992 competition.


As promised in last year's annual report, IABC's diversity initiative has undergone some re-vision (literally) and some reshaping. First step, the committee, chaired by Sharon Wamble, senior public affairs representative, Kaiser Permanente, Hayward, Calif., took: Define "culture" and "diversity" for IABC's purposes. Recognizing the rapid change in this area and the variety of viewpoints given IABC's global nature, the committee developed a working definition that gives framework to IABC's values and program of work in this area. The definition no doubt will expand and alter as the committee develops a worldwide body of knowledge in the area.

Second step: A new name for the committee. What began as IABC's Minority Affairs Task Force and became the Multicultural Communicators Committee now is IABC's Multiculturalism Committee.

The committee's new name and mission reflect a way of thinking about diversity that acknowledges that "cultural" groups are those that share the same beliefs, values, attitudes, and behaviors. Our culture influences our perceptions, assumptions, work, and communication styles. When each of us examines our own cultural make-up, we'll probably see that we share values with a number of cultural groups that might even intersect with one another. Each one of us is "multicultural."

Here is the committee's new mission statement that puts some definition to diversity in IABC's terms, along with the committee's four goals:

"The Multiculturalism Committee is dedicated to fostering communication excellence by promoting an understanding of diversity within our association, profession and the organizations within which IABC members work. Valuing diversity, dimensions of which include age, culture, ethnicity, gender, geography, language, physical ability, race, and sexual orientation, will enhance the communication effectiveness of our association and the organizations in which we work."


1. Increase and support diversity within IABC reflecting dimensions of age, ethnicity, geography, language, and physical ability.

2. Heighten awareness and understanding of diversity among IABC leaders, members and other communication practitioners.

3. Develop a body of knowledge regarding multiculturalism in the work place in each country in which IABC has members.

4. Heighten awareness of IABC's multiculturalism activity within the communication and business communities.

Valuing diversity is not an IABC "program." It is a way of thinking and behaving that permeates IABC's culture -- one that the committee wants to nurture. If you wish to be involved with this committee, contact Rae Hamlin, ABC, at IABC world headquarters. The committee would particularly welcome contributions to the body of knowledge on diversity (especially from countries outside the U.S.); including research, bibliographies, speaker and author suggestions, and case studies.


IABC's 1991 professional development menu offered an excellent selection of programs and services to meet communicators' needs for education, skill development and career planning.

The international conference in Washington, D.C. drew 1,125 participants from 24 countries. More than 60 speakers led dynamic and informative sessions on the hottest topics in the communication field.

Early in the year, IABC formed a key alliance with the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) and jointly sponsored the 1991 "Communicating Quality Symposium" in Baltimore, Md. The symposium's high ratings and attendance prompted IABC and APQC to plan a second joint quality conference held on March 10-12, 1992 in Denver, Colo.

District conferences were held throughout the U.S. and Canada in September and October. The formats varied from one-day personal training programs like those offered in U.S. District 2, to Canada District 1 and 2's comprehensive three-day conference, which featured speakers from Canada, Europe and the U.S. and sessions in both French and English.

Chapters continued to expand their breadth of offerings to meet their members' diverse and changing needs. In addition to sponsoring monthly programs, seminars and/or workshops, many chapters rolled out new services which included critique programs (for publications, videos, resumes, etc.), career consultation sessions, senior communicator roundtables, and support groups for unemployed members as well as entrepreneurs.


In 1990-91, the IABC Research Foundation raised more than U.S. $79,000 in support of its efforts to advance organizational communication through research and education. The year's fund-raising total included a record $15,000 from IABC chapters and districts, as well as contributions from more than 800 communicators and their companies.

Outreach to IABC chapters, districts and regions through the Foundation Rep Program continued to be one of the Foundation's strengths. Presentations on Foundation research, including its major work in progress, "Excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management," were featured at 25 chapter meetings and three district conferences.

The "Excellence" study also was the focus of two sessions at the 1991 international conference in Washington, D.C. Reports from those sessions were expanded during the summer and published in an "Initial Data Report" and "Practical Guide" now available for purchase through Communication Bank.

In addition, the Foundation sponsored an on-site survey at the conference. The computer-assisted poll gathered information on public relations in a reccession economy. It explored techniques for survival and opportunities for expansion, while offering participants a chance to experiment with a new research technology. Results were made available on-site at conference and in the August 1991 issue of Communication World.
 IABC Statement of Revenue and Expense
 Year ended September 30, 1991
REVENUE 1991 1990
 Communication World/WorldBook $168,153 $184,288
 Gold Quill 154,287 186,068
 Interest 28,764 41,915
 International conference 485,684 486,882
 Membership dues 1,708,835 1,545,199
 Information services 210,778 164,449
 Seminars 0 73,068
 Other activities 351,659 302,729
Total Revenue $3,108,160 $2,984,598
Member Services
 Accreditation $29,364 $29,506
 Book sales 63,934 48,118
 Communication Bank 140,008 110,226
 Communication World 462,167 521,547
 Council fees 37,701 56,744
 Council seminars 44,085 42,676
 WorldBook 122,335 92,160
 Gold Quill 160,585 144,105
 International conference 484,129 443,416
 Label sales 36,100 28,264
 Membership processing/development 329,303 334,299
 Spring seminars 0 98,334
 Student relations 23,451 25,420
Total Member Services $1,933,162 $1,974,815
Support Services
 Board of Directors $209,648 $183,660
 Depreciation 90,918 83,661
 Educational relations 5,984 3,208
 Future program planning 42,249 22,611
 General administration 261,945 275,392
 IABC Foundation contribution (net) 54,108 56,376
 Interest expense 10,711 19,590
 International development 43,217 44,723
 Leader services 161,355 151,020
 Membership retention 85,950 57,868
 Public relations 52,340 37,183
 Multiculturalism 15,691 0
 Other 96 2,582
Total Support Services $1,034,212 $937,874
TOTAL EXPENSES $2,967,374 $2,912,689
NET INCOME $140,786 $71,909
Fund Balance, beginning of year $85,616 $13,707
Fund Balance, end of year $226,402 $85,616
COPYRIGHT 1992 International Association of Business Communicators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:IABC 1991 Annual Report; financial report of International Association of Business Communicators
Author:Leaper, Norm
Publication:Communication World
Date:May 1, 1992
Previous Article:Listening to the membership.
Next Article:International conference defines issues; offers global networking.

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