From The President
H. Edward Reiley
The ARS is working for you. The American Rhododendron Society has increased services available to local chapters. A number of new programs and a new committee will strengthen our outreach to members. The new Resource Development Committee made its first loan recently to assist chapters planning the spring 2003 ARS Annual Convention in Olympia, Washington. Thanks to the generosity of our members and local chapters, the committee received donations adequate to tender a loan this year.
We are requesting proposals from local chapters and committees for funding of projects which support the ARS mandate of promoting rhododendrons and azaleas through educational activities and printing. Contact your District Director for details. None of these projects will be funded from your dues. The need for a dues increase comes from costs to administer our many programs, such as postage for the Journal, which has increased dramatically over the past several years. Many costs are beyond our control, and despite stringent and successful efforts to lower costs, we are facing a serious budget shortfall this year. In the past, generous donations have covered budget shortfalls, but with the size of the shortage and return on investments low, this is highly unlikely this year. The fact is dues do not cover day to day costs.
A side note on some research, which surprised me: Dee Daneri did some research and found that dues increases in the past did not result in membership loss. Our greatest loss of members has been during the last six years, when no dues increase was made. Over the past 20 years dues have been increased five times, the last being in 1996.
Other new promotional and educational programs, such as the Rhododendron of the Year, Proven Performers lists, and Display Gardens activities are ongoing and should be very helpful in the near future. The ARS is your organization and it needs your support. Be there.