As Congress and the administration continue their ardent negotiations over this fiscal year's budget for the United States, here at NDIA we have had budget drills of our own. Like the federal government, our budget year also begins the first of this month.
While this completes my 11 th annual budgetary exercise at NDIA or ADPA as the case may be-it was, thus far, the most difficult. The reasons, in many ways, reflect many of the changing realities that are now affecting sectors of the defense communityboth in industry and government, as well as non-profit associations such as NDIA.
For one thing, we feel the same pressures from the costs of doing business as do many other businesses, and we have similar constraints on the prices we can charge.
But, even though NDIA is a non-profit association, our board of directors reminds me that "non-profit" does not mean "negative profit". At times, I've even thought it would be easier to budget to a large surplus rather than strive for a very small positive profit margin.
And ours is a small margin indeed. NDIA operates on less than a 1 percent margin, whereas the average national association targets a 4 to 6 percent margin. While this small margin motivates us to follow our budget very closely, it does not leave much room for contingencies.
You will remember that NDIA receives approximately 15 percent of its revenue from member dues, about 8 percent from advertising and investments from retained earnings. A full 77 percent comes from symposia and conferences that we sponsor.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to this type of financing. First, we are proud to say that we keep our membership dues low in order to make them affordable to every company or individual. NDIA revenue from dues is 66 percent below the average national association.
The fees paid by customers to attend our conferences and symposia, meanwhile, cover those activity costs. In other words, the users of our services pay for them. Those who may question the price we charge for our conferences should know that fees are set so they cover direct and indirect costs plus a proportionate share of the overhead burden.
As we went through the budget process this year, I was reminded again that budgeting is a setting of priorities.
These priorities reflect our members' concerns.
First, we believe our government policy effort is a top priority because our members want the message of the need for a strong industrial base communicated to our leaders in Congress. …