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   SPSSI Finances & Outlook
   By Margaret Bull Kovera, Secretary/Treasurer


I want to take this opportunity to give you an update on SPSSI’s financial health and some recent changes to the personnel who will oversee the finances of the organization.


SPSSI’s finances remain in good shape. We discussed a preliminary 2013 budget at the June Council Meeting and have proposed a budget that projects a surplus of about $3000. Because our revenues are heavily based on publication royalties and the volatility of the projections of those royalties over recent years, we cannot yet make solid predictions about future revenues. Therefore, Council will revisit the budget at its Mid-Winter meeting in early 2013 to determine what—if any—adjustments will be needed.

There is good news to report about our financial investments: SPSSI’s investment portfolio continued its upward trend in 2011, with an overall 5.6% increase in our investment account holdings. Our investments did well against the S&P benchmark, which was up only 2.1%. The increase in our stock holdings alone was up 9.6%. As of mid-year, our 2012 investments were performing more poorly (up .5% overall, stocks up 1.6%) in comparison to the S&P benchmark (up 6.8% for the same time period). Our advisors tell us this is due to the negative effects of lower energy costs on our energy holdings. They continue to believe that these holdings are good long-term investments and recommend staying the course. As of June 2012, our holdings in our investment accounts were valued at about $2,047,000 and our cash account contained $823,585. Thus, we continue to have a healthy financial reserve.

Although we are pleased with the status of our investments, we remain concerned about our reliance on publishing ventures as our major revenue stream given the current instability in the publishing market. We considered launching a fundraising campaign to supplement our journal and book revenues until we learned that non-profit organizations are required by law to register in each state before actively soliciting donations from people residing in that state. We gathered further information about each state’s requirements and learned that it is a complex and individualized process: states vary in the complexity of the paperwork, the amount of the registration fee, the duration of the registration, and the deadlines for filing. A cost-benefit analysis of the process led the Executive Committee to conclude that it would not be in our best interest to conduct a campaign that would actively solicit donations from anyone, including our members.


Shortly before SPSSI’s Council meeting in Charlotte, I received news that our long-time financial advisor, Dennis Paul, was leaving HighTower Investments to pursue other opportunities. Pamela Rosneau, our other advisor and senior partner in the team, remains with HighTower; they assure us that she will continue to oversee our investments, although another group will be handling the day-to-day operations of our accounts. The Secretary/Treasurer, Executive Director, and Audit and Finance Committee will monitor the impact of this transition and ensure that the new team is aware of our investment plan and our concerns that our social justice mission is reflected in the investments that we make.

You may have noticed that in that last sentence I referred to the Secretary/Treasurer in the third-person and that was intentional. My term as S/T ended on August 31st and I am delighted that Council has appointed Blair Johnson as my replacement. There is no question that I am leaving you and SPSSI’s finances in very capable hands. Blair has experience managing large budgets and I am certain that he will bring that expertise, a wealth of new ideas, and fresh enthusiasm to the position. Please give him the support that you gave me during my term.

Finally, I want to thank all of you for granting me this opportunity to serve you these past three years. Given the state of our economy over the last three years, I cannot say that it was always a lot of fun to be overseeing SPSSI’s budget—I am still having flashbacks about receiving the news that Wiley had overprojected our revenue and a painful Council meeting in which we evaluated every budget line for potential cost savings—but I am grateful that I was able to participate in SPSSI’s governance in a meaningful way during a difficult time and to work with so many wonderful and dedicated SPSSI members. I hope that I will have the chance to do so again in the future.


—Margaret Bull Kovera

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