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Re: TSA Funding

Apr 23, 1997 08:03 AM
by Bart Lidofsky

M K Ramadoss wrote:

>   Here is the information on the Income and Expense of TSA based on recently
> disclosed information.
> 1. The total annual budget is 3.6 million dollars.
> 2. Income and Expense breakdown is:
>      Category                        INCOME         EXPENSE
>  1.  Publishing                       45.0%           48.0%
>  2.  Kern Grants (Direct)             18.0%
>  3.  Other(Fees, donations etc.)      15.0%
>  4.  Support (Maintenance etc.)                       16.0%
>  5.  Programs                                         15.0%
>  6.  Administration                                   11.0%
>  7.  Quest Book Shop Sales             9.0%            9.0%
>  8.  TIT Interest Income               7.0%
>  9.  Membership Dues                   4.0%
> 10.  Annual Fund Member Donations      1.5%
> 11.  Round-off                         0.5%            1.0%
>                                      --------       -------
>                                     100.00%         100.00%
> (Source: The Messenger, 2/97)
> MKR Comments:

> 2. Looking at the major source of income and major category of expense,
> Publishing accounts for nearly half the budget. This is good and bad. It is
> good in that even if all the members disappear, still TSA can continue to be
> a financial success. It is bad in the light of the fast changing publishing
> scene due to the advent of technology - primarily electronic publishing and
> Cyberspace publishing. Considering the fact that the copyright of almost all
> the Theosophical Classics have expired. So if the traditional paper based
> publishing (which the old generation relishes and may be, IMHO, addicted)
> demand goes south, it may have a significant effect primarily due to the
> overhead costs associated with publishing.

	Note that the publishing accounts for 45% of the income and 48% of the
expenses. Now, I am not sure what the difference between the income and
the profit of the TSA, but unless the profit is significantly greater
than the income, publishing is at about a break-even level right now.

> 3. In the light of such low contribution of income from membership ship dues
> - just 4.0%, a good case can be made to *lower* the annual dues to say
> $10.00/year. This may attract a larger number of members and also help the
> poor dedicated older members (I am sure there are quite a few) who are on a
> low fixed income.

	Or how about RAISING the annual dues, but having more tiers of
membership (regular, family rate, student rate, low-income rate, etc.).
A family rate makes special sense, as many couples who belong to the TS
would just as soon do without duplicate membership materials.

> 4. If the publishing income is just increased by 10%, membership dues can be
> eliminated altogether. Or, if the expenses of publishing can be reduced by
> 10%, then also membership dues can be eliminated altogether.

	Far easier said than done. If the bookstores like Barnes & Noble or
Borders put the independents out of business, publishers like TPH are
the next in line to fall.
> 5. Since a very significant amount of funding is coming from Kern Foundation
> - 18% of the budget - Kern does have a lot of say in what activities and in
> what direction the activities are directed. After all, as the old saying
> goes, he who pays the piper calls the tune. From a practical point of view,
> no one should have any problem with this. Actually, Kern should be
> congratulated for the foresight in setting up the Foundation and funding it.

	From a theoretical point of view, however, there should be a lot of
problem with this. Right now, the directors of the Kern Foundation and
John Sellon are, by and large, dedicated Theosophists who are willing to
put the Truth in front of their own personal prejudices. But as they get
older and die, who knows if the next generation will be as, well,

	Finally, note that the programs are a large portion of the expense, but
0 on the income list. While I believe that members' programs should be
free, or at worst done on a break-even basis, I do not feel the same
about programs offered to non-members. 

	There are two kinds of programs that can be presented to non-members:
programs that introduce them to Theosophy, and programs that, while
fulfilling the 3 objects, are not directly part of the theosophical
system started by the Blavatsky, Olcott, Judge, and the Mahatmas. Giving
programs in things like 4th Way, Feng Shui, Tarot, Astrology, and even
Therapeutic Touch is, in my opinion, a valid activity for Theosophical
Lodges, but should be considered to be a means of attracting potential
members and gaining an income, and should not be the primary purpose of
the Theosophical Lodges. One big mistake is to give substantial
discounts to members for public programs; that is inviting a membership
with little or no interest in Theosophy.

	I am also of two minds in terms of members accepting payment. I feel
that, for members' programs, the presenters, whether they are members or
not, should do so without a fee. With public programs, I feel they
should receive the same fee as an outside instructor would; members
should not be penalized because they are members. The one exception I
see to this is in programs designed to introduce the public to
Theosophy; those should be under the same general header as members'
programs. Once again, this is MY opinion; your mileage may vary.

	Bart Lidofsky

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