Important News About Your AMA Membership.
There will be a membership dues increase beginning September 15, 2015. Open membership will be $75 and a Senior membership will be $65. There will be an opportunity for you to lock-in your current dues of $58 or $48 for one year or two years.
Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions and article by Keith Sessions, AMA Chief Financial Officer that will appear in the July issue of Model Aviation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is AMA raising dues?
AMA last raised dues in 2003, so it will have been 13 years since our last dues adjustment. The Executive Council did not make this decision lightly. It has been discussed at length for at least the last nine months. We probably should have raised dues several years ago. We held off because of what was an unfavorable economic climate, and we felt we could sustain operations in the interim until that climate improved. We reached a point where this decision had to be made. The Executive Committee was unanimous in its decision.
Why this amount and increase now?
Running an organization with 2016 needs on a 2003 revenue stream would restrict its effectiveness. The AMA’s role and responsibilities have dramatically changed in that time.
AMA’s last dues increase was in 2003 from $48 to $58. Before that, the dues increased in 1997 from $42 to $48. The increase of the Open membership from $58 to $75 is an expense and inflationary adjustment. It amounts to $17 per year or just $1.42 a month.
The Park Pilot membership was launched in 2008 at $29.95. Its membership dues will increase to $38.50 on September 15.
Can I lock-in at my current membership dues rate? YES!
You can lock into the current dues rate of $58 for Open or $48 for a Senior membership for one year or two years beginning July 1 through September 14. Your membership would expire on December 31, 2016 or 2017 depending if you lock in for one year or two years.
• Members who have provided their email address will receive email notification beginning July 1.
• You can renew your membership online by going to the AMA website beginning July 1.
• You can renew you membership by telephone beginning July 1.
• There will be new enrollment form in the August issue of Model Aviation for members who want to use mail.
• New members joining the AMA between July 1 and September 14 can join for $58 Open and $48 for Senior memberships and receive the rest of 2015 and all of 2016. Membership would expire December 31, 2016.
• Park Pilot members can lock into the $29.95 rate beginning July 1 through September 14.
• AMA has a lifetime membership for $1,500 which might be a good option for some and will not increase regardless of possible future dues increases.
• Beginning September 15, AMA will move its membership year from a calendar year to year-to-date.
How will the increase help?
AMA is first and foremost a membership organization. Your dues help pay for all member benefits, support, programs and government advocacy the AMA provides on your behalf.
In 2008, AMA engaged in the FAA’s regulatory effort to integrate sUAS into the National Airspace System. Little did we know at the time that this effort would morph into what it has become today. Since that initial engagement, AMA has spent in excess of $1,000,000 advocating on behalf of our members and all model aviation enthusiasts.
We don’t see a time in the future when this need will diminish. In fact, the resources we will need to allocate to protecting our ability to continue to enjoy model aviation as we do today will likely grow. In 2014, we were dealing with one or two pieces of federal legislation and a handful of states that were considering some form of legislation that could impact aeromodeling. In 2015 we are tracking more than 170 pieces of similar legislation. This recently has filtered down from the federal and state level to the municipal level where cities such as Austin TX, Paradise Valley AZ, and New York City among others are all have or are considering ordinances that could negatively affect our hobby if we don’t remain diligent in our efforts.
Another significant expense for AMA is the liability insurance protection we provide our members as a benefit of membership. Premiums have risen considerably in the last 13 years since our last dues increase. A-less-than stellar claims history over the last few years has resulted in AMA incurring more than $1,000,000 in expenses against our self-insured retention. This is in addition to the annual premiums and the “normal” expense the insurance program annually costs.
Recently we found a need to contract with a public relations firm to help address some of the bad publicity being generated by irresponsible non-members. We feel it’s important that we be proactive in this area because negative media attention can easily sway the opinions of not only the public, but of elected officials. It’s much better to address this now than to be reactive after the fact.
Why doesn’t AMA cut costs instead of raising dues?
We’ve done a good job over the last few years of containing expenses. In fact our annual expenses have risen less than the Consumer Price Index. The change in dues for 2016 actually only reflects the change in the CPI during that period. From January 2003 through April 2015, the CPI rose 30.21%. The dues increase reflects a change of 29.31%.
We have evaluated and analyzed every aspect of our spending and “tightened our belt” in every way feasible. We have renegotiated with our vendors to reduce expenses or signed contracts with new vendors that could meet our terms. But that business strategy can only go on for so long before this begins to negatively affect the benefits and the level of service we provide our membership. The Executive Council and AMA staff will begin developing a new strategic plan in July that will be used to lead the organization during the next five to 10 years.
What will the dues increase pay for?
The dues increase will help AMA continue to provide the government advocacy and support you value while we continue to create a stronger future for aeromodeling. All of our programs rely on member dues to some extent. By raising dues we will be able to keep delivering top-notch government advocacy, outstanding magazines, newsletters and websites, education, and all the other services you rely on.
What is the real value of my membership?
The biggest value of an AMA membership doesn’t come with a price tag — it’s the power our entire membership lends to our voice as we fight for the freedom to fly model aircraft. It’s hard to be heard above the noise in Washington, D.C., but the strength of our membership means decision makers listen.
The $2.5 million liability umbrella insurance allows you to enjoy peace of mind flying by knowing the AMA has you covered. It would cost you $1,000 a year or more to buy this insurance on your own. The insurance covers you whether you choose to fly at an AMA club field, park, backyard or wherever. In addition, your membership includes Model Aviation magazine or the Model Aviation digital version, the AMA Today e-newsletter, and more. Our educational programs and initiatives expose model aviation to thousands of young people each year. And AMA FlightSchool provides members with online learning for all levels of flying skill.