Chapter 3: Budget and Finance

The purpose of the RUSA Business Plan is to document fiscal strategies for the division that will focus and direct efforts. These strategies will

  • Assist the division in identifying and meeting member needs;
  • Guide the division in pricing and marketing products and services;
  • Define the future scope of such products and services;
  • Assist the division in introducing new services; and
  • Indicate the need for staff support to provide services and develop and market useful products.

The RUSA business goals and strategies are:

  1.    To obtain a significant percentage of income from sources other than dues by
    1. developing and promoting RUSA non-serial publications
    2. seeking outside funding in coordination with the ALA Development Office
    3. promoting RUSQ subscriptions
    4. presenting preconferences on a regular basis
    5. offering Web CE courses on a regular basis
  2. To achieve and maintain a reserve amounting to 50% of the average expenditures over the last three fiscal years by:
    1. Continuing to set budgets with revenues greater than expenses
  3. To increase the number of division members by:
    1. charging the Membership Committee to target promotion efforts at institutions and reference librarians, and library school students
    2. building a cadre of RUSA advocates to promote membership
  4. To manage the division in a fiscally prudent manner by
    1. Continuing to budget conservatively (low) for revenues and liberally (high) for expenditures

The Budget Process:

RUSA’s budget year runs September-August. The RUSA budget is part of the ALA budget and RUSA adheres to the ALA budget guidelines and rules regarding salaries and benefits, equipment and space costs/projects, inflation projections, etc.  Per ALA policy, division boards have responsibility for developing and approving budgets and multi-year program and financial plans, which are then reviewed by ALA management and BARC (the Budget Analysis and Review Committee).  The overall ALA annual budget, which includes the RUSA budget, is approved by the ALA Executive Board.  Divisions also have the responsibility to alert the Association to any planned activities that could have a potential negative impact upon the fiscal stability of the Association.

RUSA has an operating budget and has made a commitment to fund the RUSA Endowment each year, when possible.  The RUSA budget is broken into several programmatic and management areas.  They are:

  • Administration—includes staff salary and benefits, hardware and software, office supplies and phone.
  • Membership promotion—includes materials/printing as well as exhibiting at other conferences, membership surveys, and other costs associated with promoting  membership in RUSA.
  • Governance Support—includes funding for the RUSA executive committee to attend the Fall division meeting and for orientation/training for RUSA president-elect and division executive director.
  • Sections and President’s program—includes funding for conference programming at ALA Annual and Midwinter.
  • Awards—expenses for producing awards and distribution of monetary awards.
  • RUSQ—costs associated with production and mailing of RUSA’s quarterly journal.
  • Online CE—costs associated with development and promotion of RUSA’s online courses.
  • Publications—costs associated with producing, promoting, storing inventory, for publications.
  • Literary Tastes breakfast—expenses for producing the annual breakfast.
  • Preconferences—expenses for producing preconferences at annual and midwinter
  • Endowment—tracks endowment funds; includes bank fee expenses. 

Information about RUSA’s Endowment and Use of Endowment Interest

If, at the end of the fiscal year, the revenues from membership dues, preconferences and online courses, RUSQ, donations and publications exceed expenses, the balance (to a maximum of $49,999) may be invested in the RUSA Endowment.  Under the terms of the “Operating Agreement” between ALA and its divisions, divisions are allowed to transfer funds to a long-term investment account and earn interest on the investments provided they have met their mandated reserve level. ALA advises divisions to establish “four or more months of reserves.” RUSA’s “mandated reserve” policy states:  RUSA will achieve and maintain a reserve amounting to 50% of the average expenditures over the last three fiscal years.

In 2007, the RUSA Board established that the portion of net earnings (interest less bank fees) to be paid from the endowment fund to the RUSA division fund may be up to 100%. 50% of the net earnings (interest) will be used to support Annual Conference programs and the remainder will be used to support other division initiatives. The RUSA Board and the Budget and Finance committee will make decisions about the expenditures of these funds based on the financial stability of RUSA and the extent to which budget proposals support the RUSA Strategic Plan.

The amount of interest varies and is dependent upon the amount of money in the account and stock market/bond performance for the year. In recent years the interest has varied from $6,000 to $10,000, which translates to $3,000-$5,000 available to division programming at Annual Conference and that same amount available for new initiatives.  The RUSA board invites sections and committees to prepare proposals (deadline May 1) for initiative funding.  

The Budget and Finance Committee works with the Executive Director to create a draft budget to present to the RUSA Board for approval. The committee includes two members of each section, the current, vice, and past presidents of RUSA, and the chairs of RUSA Awards, Membership, Organization, Conference Programming Coordianting, Professional Development, and Publications, and the editor of RUSQ and RUSA Update.

It is very important for the section members of the Budget and Finance Committee to have conversations with their section chair prior to both the RUSA Budget and Finance Committee meeting and the RUSA Board vote on the budget to ensure that all issues and questions are addressed.

Committee budgets:

Under $50
All RUSA division and section level committees and discussion groups may submit reimbursement requests up to $50 without prior approval. This amount is expected to cover such things as postage, telephone, copying, etc.

Over $50
When a committee wants to undertake a project that will cost more than $50,

  1. RUSA committee chair should submit a request using the proper budget proposal form by May 1. No requests for funds will be accepted after May 1.
  2. Section committee chairs should get approval from their executive committee and the chair of the section should submit the proper budget proposal from by May 1. No requests for funds will be accepted after May 1.

Reimbursement procedures:

  1. Chairperson should submit an itemized statement of expenses broken down by category to the RUSA office, on a copy of the request for reimbursement form.
  2. Statement should not be included in the text of a letter concerning other committee business since it must be forwarded to ALA Accounting.
  3. Original receipts for the expenses must be included.

Seeking funding outside of RUSA:

RUSA members, committees, sections and other units may not make any formal requests for contributions on behalf of the division to potential donors without first clearing the request with the RUSA executive director. Source: RASD Board, June, 1986; reaffirmed by RUSA Executive Committee, October, 2006

Procedures:

Before seeking or accepting financing for any RUSA section or committee publication, program, preconference, or other activity, please observe the following procedures.

  1. Contact the RUSA executive director and indicate the funding need, vendors you wish to contact and amount you will request from each.
  2. Do not contact any vendors until you receive clearance from the RUSA executive director.
  3. Get written confirmation once you have received a commitment from a donor, and send that to the RUSA executive director.
  4. Approach those prospects most likely to recognize the benefit to themselves of funding an RUSA program, project, etc. when soliciting funds from vendors.
  5. If seeking full funding from a single donor, approach them one or a few at a time, first in person or by phone, then by follow-up letter, then by a follow-up phone call asking for a commitment.
  6. If one prospect declines, move on to the next on this list. Do not discuss or name other potential donors when dealing with one prospect.
  7. If seeking partial funding for a project from each of a number of prospective donors, let all of them know that others are being invited to share in the opportunity.

When is outside funding appropriate?

Types of situations where outside funding/ support might be appropriate include:

award, membership directory, program, brochure, preconference, research project, large-scale mailings.

What types of support might you request?

In-kind, providing speakers, doing large-scale mailings (be certain that RUSA's name appears prominently on the envelope-otherwise people may think it is a promotion piece if it comes from a vendor);
Financial participation; donation applied to the total cost; RUSA pays the bill and is reimbursed by donor.

In your letter of solicitation, be explicit about what you will offer the company for their sponsorship.

You might offer to:

Use the company's name on the program brochure, publications, Web site, etc.,
Give public acknowledgment and thank you at the program;
Offer to display the company's literature at the program/event;
Publicize the sponsorship in follow-up reports of the program/event.

Note: Remember that ALA mailing lists cannot be sold or negotiated, they can only be rented. RUSA representatives soliciting outside funding should keep the RUSA executive director and, through the RUSA executive director, the officers informed about their activities. Source: RASD Finance Committee, February, 1992; reaffirmed by RUSA Executive Committee, October, 2006

Unexpended funds:

Unexpended funds allocated to a committee, section or section-level committee of RUSA for a special project or a specific purpose shall revert to RUSA. Income derived from publications, preconferences, institutes or other ventures conducted by RUSA committees, sections or section-level committees shall be the property of the division. Source: RASD Board, June 1992; reaffirmed by RUSA Executive Committee, October, 2006

Guidelines for Funding Research Projects:

As a general practice, RUSA is not a grant-giving agency and does not fund original research. However, RUSA also recognizes that there are times when it may wish to play a leadership role in research related to library services. By participating in such research projects, RUSA is able to help set the agenda for the future of the profession. These guidelines are intended to establish principles and procedures for requesting and allocating funds for research projects.

Evaluation Criteria:
When evaluating research proposals, the Board should consider the:

  • Relationship of the project to the goals and interests of RUSA.
  • Potential of the project to influence future development of library services.
  • Potential of the project to affect services for identifiable user populations.
  • Potential of the project to provide information that would not otherwise become available.
  • Potential of funding from other sources to support the project.
  • Qualifications of the researchers.
  • Potential of the project to be completed.
  • Potential of the project report to be published in RUSQ.

Procedures:

RUSA Planning and Finance Committee will serve as the initial review board for all research proposals.

  1. Proposals will be forwarded to the Committee by the RUSA Board. The Committee will review each proposal and provide the Board with a summary and a recommendation of support or non-support at the next ALA conference.
  2. Proposals that are not supported by the Committee will be presented to the full RUSA Board, but no further action need be taken.
  3. Proposals supported by the Committee will be voted on by the entire RUSA Board. A majority vote of the Board will be required for funding to be approved.
  4. Application and approval process is open. No funding requests will be considered if for any reason the applicants wish to keep the request secret.
  5. Researchers who receive funding will be required to provide written progress reports to the Board prior to each ALA conference. Researchers may also be called to address the Board in person.
  6. Funds must be accounted for according to standard ALA accounting regulations.
  7. A final report will be submitted to the Board upon completion of the project. 

Researchers may also be asked to write a summary for publication in RUSQ; this is at the discretion of the Board. Source: RUSA Board, January 2002; reaffirmed by RUSA Executive Committee, October, 2006