ADA faces challenges in developing 2021 budget in ‘unprecedented’ year

The Association is facing challenges “unlike any other year in ADA history,” the ADA Board of Trustees said after voting on the ADA’s 2021 budget proposal in August.

Dr. Gehani
Dr. Gehani
In Board Report 2, the annual summary of the ADA’s anticipated revenue and expenses, the Board stated that 2021 “will be a period of great uncertainty and change,” and in response, has called for “rapidly adjusted operations in the current year, while anticipating the need to continue making changes” as the Association continues to feel the effects of the pandemic.

“Planning the new ADA budget gave us unprecedented challenges made worse by the impact of the COVID-19 health crisis and the resulting economic downturn,” ADA President Chad P. Gehani said. “The Board of Trustees made some very difficult decisions during this process but I am confident that the Association will continue to maintain financial sustainability as we remain committed to the ADA’s mission to serve the profession and the public.”

For 2021, the Board is recommending an operating budget of $128.8 million in revenues and a 1.5% dues increase, which for full dues amounts to an $8 dues increase from 2020 to keep up with inflation and help offset a projected 4.4% deficit (about $5.9 million) before reserves. This would set a 2021 dues level of $573 plus implementation of dues streamlining adopted by the 2019 House of Delegates, which eliminates the discount for active life membership and shortens the discount period for recent dental school graduates. The projected rate does not reflect any potential costs for additional actions the ADA House of Delegates may take at the virtual meeting in October. Without the dues increase, the deficit would be over $10 million.

The ADA will continue to achieve the goals set forth by Common Ground 2025, the five-year strategic plan, as the Association’s efforts to understand and navigate the pandemic continue to evolve, said Dr. Daniel J. Klemmedson, ADA president-elect.

Headshot Dr Dan Klemmedson
Dr. Klemmedson
“The economic fallout of COVID-19 has created a need for fiscal discipline and focus as the ADA, just like most dental practices, will have reduced revenue this year and likely next year as well," Dr. Klemmedson said. "The strategic plan promotes focus through goals that sustain our core strengths and priorities (membership, financial sustainability, and organizational capacity). Our fourth goal advancing the health of the public and success of the profession provides the critical incentive to advance our profession even in challenging times.”

ADA Bylaws tasks the ADA Treasurer with oversight of Association finances and designing and developing the budget in concert with the Board of Trustees. The House of Delegates is in charge of approving the budget.

“COVID-19 had an immediate impact on our budget process this year,” said Dr. Ted Sherwin, ADA treasurer. “When the pandemic hit, it became clear that 2020 revenues would be down, and the Board responded quickly by reducing expenses. Thankfully, we can use our strong reserves to help support essential activities both in 2020 and in 2021. We are cautiously looking forward to recovery beginning late this year and continuing next year. With so much uncertainty related to how recovery will look next year, developing the 2021 Budget was incredibly challenging. I am so proud of the way the ADA has responded to this unpredicted and unprecedented crisis.”

According to Board Report 2, the ADA created a Financial Scenario Planning Team in response to the COVID-19 crisis that began meeting weekly by Zoom to review financial data and potential options to recommend. That team weighed input from across the organization to develop a budget for not only 2021 but the longer term needs of the Association.

Treasurer - Sherwin
Dr. Sherwin
In addition to the recommended dues increase, the draft budget includes recommendations for cuts to Association travel, a proposal for a virtual 2021 Lobby Day and a reduction in ADA staff.

"The final recommendation was consistent with the ADA Board rules which state that the Board shall plan and manage the Association finances with the following guiding principles in a manner that ensures the long-term sustainability of the Association, improves the value that members receive from the dues they pay and engages all levels of the tripartite,” the report stated.

Dr. Sherwin said he is optimistic about the ADA's future and noted that the budget proposal strategically uses reserves to retain critical resources to continue to respond to the needs of member dentists during the crisis. In addition to providing for the needs of today, the 2021 Budget continues to strongly support members’ needs of the future by increased funding for Research and Science and innovative programs like digital transformation which enhance members digital interactions with the ADA.

The ADA House of Delegates will meet virtually Oct. 15-19. Board Report 2 and other reports and resolutions for the 2020 House are available in the members only section of, contained in the Committee A reports and resolutions document.

For more information about the ADA FDC Virtual Connect Conference, visit