Issue 49: AKA Corner

Dues. Why does AKA need us to pay dues to be a member?

I’ve often talked in these pages about the benefits of being part of AKA. But I’ve seldom touched on what it costs AKA to provide those benefits.

Since 1999, we’ve been charging $30 for a basic USA membership. Members overseas or requesting first class postage pay more.

Basically, the $30 fee covers the cost of Kiting Magazine and event insurance. We don’t make money on membership. We don’t lose it either. Other major operating costs – such as maintaining a staffed office, the web page, National Kite Month, and operational overhead are covered by income from our Annual Auction, advertising, sponsorships, and product sales.

Some fliers have suggested we reduce costs by publishing Kiting online. That’s a provocative idea. But our research suggests that most members still want a paper copy of the magazine. Many tend to treat their paper Kitings as collectors issues which they review from time-to-time.

Another part of the problem is that 25% of our members don’t appear to be online. So we need to print a magazine for those members who want a hard copy, and printing fewer copies doesn’t save much printing cost.

A hard copy of the magazine is a major benefit of membership. Most say it is the major benefit. Eliminating the hard copy quarterly mailing would clearly diminish the value of a membership.

The insurance benefit costs us about $8 per member. That allows us to support several hundred festivals and fun flies each year with a million dollar policy. Generally, a million bucks in coverage is what parks, schools, and beaches require to get a permit. And any current member at those events is personally covered for $100,000.

Of course, each year since 1999 we’ve seen the cost of everything go up! Thirty dollars seven years ago now has thirty-six dollars of buying power. AKA is finding it harder and harder to balance budgets with the income sources we have. And during the financial crunches several years ago, we cut out every non-essential program. So what that leaves us with is the prospect of increasing dues $5 in the near future.

Whether it turns out to be $30 or $35, my sense is that most fliers will continue to be members, and some others will continue to make excuses. Five bucks won’t sway a lot of decisions. But at the end of the day, AKA has to operate in a businesslike fashion – covering costs and providing meaningful return on the money fliers invest in memberships.

If you have ideas or suggestions, we’d love to hear them.

    David Gomberg