The Society for the
Study of Social Issues


  SPSSI Finances and Outlook

   By Blair Johnson, Secretary/Treasurer

As SPSSI’s newly appointed secretary-treasurer, allow me a personal moment, first, before I report on SPSSI’s financial matters.

Ever since my graduate student days at Purdue University, I’ve held SPSSI in high regard. I appreciated its pro-social values and how strongly it embraces psychological science as a means to improve social reality. I also appreciated SPSSI’s long-standing spunk in creating and maintaining safe spaces for scholarly activism in the service of important social issues. In the intervening time, I have increasingly embraced scholarly activism as essential to securing our collective future, broadly considered.

Scholars face professional and personal choices about where to invest resources. I have increasingly put mine into those pursuits that can do the most social good. With this pretext, you can imagine the great pleasure I took last summer at being selected to serve as SPSSI’s secretary-treasurer. I get to help run this wonderful organization! It is an honor and a privilege.

In the interim, I have taken quite a bit of time to get to know SPSSI leadership, council, and staff members. Of course, I already knew most of the mid- to late-career folks, but many of the early-career folks are brand new acquaintances. It is heartening to see such warm embrace of SPSSI values across all generations of SPSSI members. SPSSI staff members as well, have their hearts in the right places, and do all they can for SPSSI. Last summer they shuttled the conference programs to Charlotte in their own automobiles to help save money. They put in personal time around the Washington DC office and the building itself to keep it looking first rate. They are in the office early and (often) late, working on key SPSSI matters. And they truly appreciate and network with the SPSSI membership. You can see that these interactions with SPSSI staffers and SPSSI leadership have only re-affirmed my basic beliefs about SPSSI’s values.

It is a good thing, indeed, to commit basic resources to this organization. Join SPSSI if you are not already a member. If you have the means, think about becoming a sustaining member—it actually would save you money over the long run to be a lifetime member. Many of SPSSI’s past presidents and officers have already taken that step, including me. If you are a member, keep your membership profile current so that SPSSI staff use your interests and skills to their best effect. These interactions may quickly have you helping to guide SPSSI’s future. It’s worth it!

My job is made all the easier by the fine job that my predecessor, Margaret Bull-Kovera, has done in the preceding three years. Margaret has been very helpful to me in the transition, and for her own scholarly activism, I am truly grateful. Thanks in part to Margaret’s efforts (and those of her audit and finance committee), SPSSI’s investment portfolio remains strong.

As another case example of SPSSI activism, I had several wonderfully qualified members who asked to serve on the audit and finance committee and have been appointed to serve. Two are past SPSSI secretary-treasurers, and most have extensive and successful investment histories; one even served as an auditor in a state lottery! Several have served on this committee in the past. I thank Geoff Maruyama, Chuck Nichols, Dan Perlman, Miriam Vega, and Peter Walker for the excellent advice they have already given on SPSSI financial matters.

This committee reviews any matter of fiscal import to SPSSI. We considered at length a proposal from our investment group, Hightower Associates, to re-invest a considerable amount of fluid capital into longer-term investments that are more likely to benefit SPSSI, and in the end we supported it. These securities are stable and trustworthy investments, and, in our committee’s view, they support SPSSI’s values (e.g., none of them are in firearms). In the balance, and as far as we can see, they represent a positive influence on society.

Our committee also reviewed the most recent audit, completed this fall, and concluded that there are no problems of note with SPSSI’s finances. This audit helps to highlight the strong job that Margaret did in the last three years, and of course it also affirms executive director Susan Dudley’s fine work. Although my title is secretary-treasurer, it is Susan who makes financial transactions in the day-to-day life of the central office. Moreover, Susan and executive committee members have been quite instructive about the important details of running SPSSI. Thank you all!

The table (linked below) gives a big picture about SPSSI’s revenue and expenses: As you can see, revenues exceeded expenses in 2012 once again. Our publication revenue for 2012 was up about 5% over 2011. Dues contributions were up 2% for 2012 compared to 2011. Expenses were up for the year (and 2010) due primarily to our stand-alone conference in Charlotte (and in 2010, New Orleans), but income from registration fees more than offset these: Our 2012 conference actually made money! Our investment portfolio has been outperforming inflation, increasing at about 5.6% annually. In short, SPSSI’s revenue streams remain stable and our financial situation secure, meaning it will remain a strong advocate for the best in scholarly activism.


View SPSSI Revenue and Expenses Table



—Blair Johnson


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Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice.
                                                                                                                    - Kurt Lewin