For the next two years, professional and student members of the Society of Professional Journalists will enjoy a dues freeze. During SPJ’s 1998 convention in Los Angeles, Oct. 22 to 24, delegates voted to suspend the automatic Consumer Price Index clause, which has raised dues an average of $2 each year since 1991.
The two-year dues freeze will help grow the Society’s professional and student membership numbers without harming its bottom line, says Wendy S. Myers, 1998-99 SPJ President and editor of Veterinary Economics, a monthly business and management magazine published by Medical Economics, a Thomson subsidiary. SPJ’s board of directors and Executive Director Dennis Norris supported the proposal, and plan to launch creative membership drives and increase non-dues revenue through workshops, grants, affinity programs, and other offerings.
“SPJ knows journalists need an affordable membership organization that offers valuable programs, resources and benefits,” said Myers. “Holding the dues rate for two years will let us initiate aggressive membership campaigns and show our current members that SPJ is committed to meeting their needs.”
The first of several membership initiatives was unveiled during the Los Angeles convention. Based on a baseball theme, SPJ’s “Double Play” member-get-a-member campaign rewards journalists who recruit others. Prizes include:
Single: Each member who recruits at least one professional or student journalist will receive an SPJ lapel pin.
Double Play: When a member recruits two members, he or she receives half-price membership dues.
Home Run: SPJ members who sign up four or more new members get a SPJ lapel pin and half-price dues, and are eligible for a grand-prize drawing for a trip to SPJ’s 1999 convention in Indianapolis, including airfare, hotel and convention registration.
Recruiter of the Year: The person who recruits the most professional members and another who signs up the most student-and reduced-rate members during the contest will win an Apple iMac computer.
To be eligible for the contest, all new member applications must be dated Oct. 23, 1998 to Feb. 28, 1999, and must be received at SPJ headquarters by March 15, 1998.
SPJ will announce other membership initiatives throughout the year and begin a strategic planning process in December. The strategic plan for SPJ and the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, which acts as the Society’s educational and fund-raising arm, will address membership, professional development offerings, journalism ethics, freedom of information, and other issues. Committee members will present a draft of the strategic plan to SPJ members in April and distribute the final plan during the 1999 convention in Indianapolis, Oct. 3 to 5.