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Search engine marketing, long-term stability all part of 2019 budget proposal

ADA Board submits resolutions for dues increase, special assessment

September 07, 2018

By Judy Jakush

Photo of Dr. Crowley
Dr. Crowley
Photo of Dr. Cole
Dr. Cole
Photo of Dr. Lemmo
Dr. Lemmo
In its 2019 budget proposal, the ADA Board of Trustees is investing in the Association's and members' digital and real-world future with a resolution seeking a $22 dues increase and, separately, a resolution seeking a one-time special assessment of $58 to fully fund the third year of the Find-a-Dentist campaign.

Said Dr. Joseph P. Crowley, ADA president, "One of the key actions in the new budget is funding, on an ongoing basis, the Association's ability to communicate in the digital world in a competitive manner. This requires best-of-class tools to help us organize and maximize what we do in reaching the widest possible audience with our oral health message through efforts such as search engine marketing."

Search engine marketing basically involves paying for ways to increase Internet traffic to specific content.

"Although the dues increase supports the addition of new member value through search engine marketing, this increase is not unreasonable given that the ADA had only one modest dues increase in the past five years," said Dr. Jeffrey M. Cole, ADA president-elect.

"Due to the effects of inflation the Board is finding it difficult to maintain operations to support the advancement of the strategic plan," he said. "My personal feeling is that in the future we would best serve the members with small dues increases to keep up with inflation, rather than a sizable increase every few years.  As a result, the Board will consider recommendations regarding smaller, incremental increases rather than larger infrequent dues adjustments from the Budget and Finance Committee."  

Dr. Cole emphasized that the 2019 budget supports the goals and objectives of the Association. "It adequately funds the ADA so that it can fulfill Strategic Plan-Members First 2020 and its constitutional obligation of increasing the oral health of the public and advancing the art and science of dentistry.'"

Dr. Crowley noted that the budget proposal reaffirms the ADA's commitment to science and evidence-based research, the core of the profession. "The proposal also includes resources that help us continue to be the number one advocate for the oral health and wellness of the public. Our presence in Washington is in the highest priority category for the mission and vision of our ADA," the ADA president said.

Dr. Ronald P. Lemmo, ADA treasurer, said the dues proposal should be thought of separately from the special assessment, which is calculated to fund the third year of the Find-a-Dentist campaign. The campaign is focused on connecting prospective patients with dentists. The 2016 House of Delegates approved the effort in Res. 67H-2016: "Drive Utilization of Dental Services for ADA Members."

Find-a-Dentist is now on track to achieve 850,000 profile views in 2018 plus an additional 1,004,000 profile views in 2019, said Dr. Lemmo.

"So what does 1,004,000 profile views mean to each dentist?" the treasurer asked. "Profile views are not evenly distributed among all ADA members, but dividing the total number of profile views by the number of ADA regular and recent graduate members gives an average of roughly 10 profile views per member. This means that on average, each dentist gets 10 chances to recruit a new patient.

"The annual cost of the program is $6 million, which works out to about $6 per profile view," he continued. "Since $6 is a very small fraction of the average billings for any new patient, the average member can break even on the cost of Find-a-Dentist if even a very small percentage of profile views result in appointments."

In Board Report 2, which details anticipated revenue and expenses, the Board recommends a 2019 operating budget of $132,650,000 in revenues and more than $134,755,000 in expenses and income taxes, projecting a deficit of $2.3 million based on the current dues rate of $532. A $22 increase would bring the ADA 2019 dues rate to $554 and cover the deficit, the report explains.

Resolution 36 discusses the proposal for a $58 special assessment. Because of House notice requirements, a proposed assessment can only be amended to a lower dollar amount at the meeting. By forwarding a proposed $58 special assessment, the House retains the flexibility to adopt an assessment at any level from $0 to $58, Dr. Lemmo said.

"After paying for this program as an investment out of reserves for the first two years, the Board realized that if we want to continue this valuable program into the future it really needs to be transitioned into the operating budget.  As a first step, the Board's proposed special assessment separates this funding question by moving this cost out of reserve expenditures and asks the House to consider having members pay for it.  This is a decision for the House, and if the House agrees on the value of the program, then a long-term funding plan will eventually be needed," he said.  

The ADA House of Delegates will meet Oct. 19-22 in Honolulu. Board Report 2 and other reports and resolutions for the 2018 House are available to members only on ADA.org in the Member Center. Members First 2020 — Strategic Plan 2015-2019 is also available online in the Member Center. More information on Find-a-Dentist is found at ADA.org/findadentist.