During its February meeting, the Society for Technical Communication Board of Directors voted to indefinitely suspend the Installment Payment plan for membership dues initiated in 2009. According to the announcement page on the STC website, “Ongoing technical issues and a renewed commitment to organizational fiscal responsibility made this difficult decision necessary. We understand that this will present significant challenges to some of our members, and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. In the interest of transparency, we’d like to provide some context and background on this important decision.”
STC first offered the dues installment plan in response to impacts of the global financial crisis in 2009. The option allowed members to pay dues in four interest-free payments. While only a few members used the plan in 2009, by 2011 nearly 900 members (more than 10 percent of applications submitted) opted for the installment plan, which did not require an “affidavit of hardship.”
According to STC, “The Installment Plan was never intended for wide adoption. Paying by installment is not a common association practice, and there is no provision made for a plan of this nature in our Association Management Software (AMS). This means that every Installment Plan application must be processed manually—not just once, but on each of the four months of the plan.” In addition to the time expended on manual processing, staff began to spend more time on followup and collections activities.
To continue processing installment plan payments, STC reports that it would need to spend scarce time and budgetary resources in hiring an additional staff member, AMS contractors and accelerating system upgrades. “With fewer staff members and tighter financial controls being imposed across the entire organization, programs like the Installment Plan no longer make good business sense for STC.” STC plans to continue looking for options if and when the organization’s financials improve.
The announcement page on the website concludes “Purse strings are tighter, decisions are being made more deliberately and with greater reflection, and your membership in STC is something we must earn. We want you to know that we don’t take you for granted. We strive every day to provide valuable services and benefits to our members while pursuing our mission of advancing the arts and sciences of technical communication throughout the world. We want to thank you for sticking with us during the hard times and working together with us to build a better tomorrow for those working in our vital and growing industry.”
View the full announcement here.