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  Home : Transformation: A View from Spruce Street

Transformation: A View from Spruce Street

Elizabeth Lucas
Elizabeth Lucas, CEO and Executive Director

As a member of a global organization, you joined your club to be part of something beyond your local community. And that something is the combined effort of all Soroptimist clubs to improve the lives of women
and girls. We call that Increased Collective Impact—or, the direction we’re moving in as an organization … through our programs … creating greater recognition … leading to greater resources to achieve our vision of a world where women and girls have the resources and opportunities to reach their full potential and live their dreams.

Dues to the federation contribute toward the costs of member services and governance—the cost to deliver value and support to our 34,000 members in 1,300 clubs across 28 regions carrying out the mission in our 19 countries and territories in six languages and multiple cultures. Yes, being a global organization means we are complex, with a lot to support, in many different ways. This is confirmed by Association Library Inc.’s 2013 Global Membership Models white paper.

The value and support SIA headquarters delivers includes:

  • Creating and supporting core programs and tools for increased collective impact and greater recognition for SIA;
  • Gathering and sharing knowledge about the women and girls’ space;
  • Developing and maintaining international alliances and partnerships to build our global footprint and impact;
  • Developing leadership to enrich our members, further enhance their skills, and groom members to lead;
  • Advocating for legislation to advance behaviors and attitudes that lead to gender equality;
  • Collecting and archiving the legacy of contributions Soroptimist has made;
  • Providing opportunities for the Soroptimist network to recognize their accomplishments while creating fellowship and friendships;
  • Ensuring the member club’s right to a voice and a vote through a mail ballot and delegate structure;
  • Coaching, counseling and supporting the Soroptimist structure;
  • Marketing the organization and its programs in order to recruit new members and attract donors and sponsors; and
  • Tracking volunteer trends and shifting strategies accordingly.

This support of the member services and governance structures account for about 42.5 percent of 2012-2013 budgeted
expenses. But there is more. Membership dues also contribute to the backbone or administration of the operation. That is what allows all of us to enjoy operating under the Soroptimist name and as charitable organizations. The backbone operations or administration require us to:

  • Develop and maintain a technology infrastructure;
  • Protect our assets including our financial market investments, property, registered trade and service marks; and
  • Comply with state, and country specific legal and regulatory requirements.

These administrative requirements may not sound like very exciting value-added components. But they are, because they allow Soroptimists to operate in 19 countries and territories. And, because SIA is an incorporated entity, we are required by U.S. law to annually take steps to protect our assets if we are to lend our name, reputation, registered trade and service marks and charitable status to our clubs and regions.

The backbone, or administration, amounts to about 8.5 percent of our total expenses budgeted in 2012-2013. When an independent audit firm compares this 8.5 percent with other like organizations, SIA is found to operate at a lower administrative
cost than its peer organizations.

All totaled, in 2012-2013, membership dues cover 87 percent of the costs needed to deliver the services required of our current structure. The 13 percent gap is covered by interest, dividends and realized gains from investment income.

Remember, member dues pay for operating the structure. They do not pay for the funds disbursed through our wonderful
Soroptimist programs, contributions do.

Where do the donations one gives to SIA actually go? In 2012-2013, of the almost $1.6 million we expect to raise from our very generous members, clubs and friends, 81 percent goes right to programs.

The other 19 percent covers the costs for SIA to raise the funds. This includes expenses associated with:

  • The federal and state laws required of fundraising organizations;
  • Accounting for the flow of funds;
  • Supporting audits, IRS filings, regular financial reports, donor acknowledgements; and
  • Managing fundraising campaigns. Here again, SIA’s cost to raise funds continues to be lower than the similar organizations our audit firm compares SIA against.

Perhaps the most important point is that NO contributions pay for administration, governance or member services expenses. That’s right, contributions cover programs, and dues cover member services, governance and administration.

We are fortunate to be able to volunteer for a global organization with a global network. We’re much more than a community
organization. We’re Soroptimists!



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