Delegates’ Budget Responsibilities
Delegates to Convention participate in two votes related to the LWVUS budget:
- Deciding the PMP amount for the fiscal biennium, running from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2022, and
- Adopting the LWVUS budget for the 2020-2022 biennium.
The proposed LWV Education Fund (LWVEF) budget for the biennium is also presented because the LWVUS and LWVEF budgets are interrelated. However, the Bylaws provide for its adoption by the LWVEF Board of Trustees and not Convention delegates.
The 2020-2022 proposed budget was developed to support the organization’s revised strategic goals/framework that build upon the success of the Transformation Roadmap. The budget reflects our continued commitment to organizational change, to our mission work (including People Powered Fair Maps™) and to support for Leagues. The budgeting process included several rounds of review by staff and the Budget Committee.
Today both LWVUS and LWVEF are financially very strong. Financial performance in the 2018-2020 biennium period outperformed what was approved at Convention 2018 more than six-fold. As compared to the Convention-approved ($3M) budgeted operating deficit, actual performance resulted in a projected operating surplus of nearly +$700K for LWVUS/EF combined.
Due to this strong performance and a wise investment strategy, LWVUS and EF combined reserves today exceed $11M. This reserve amount is nearly $5M above the required reserves. In January 2019, the board updated the reserves policy to require six months of operating expenses be held. LWVUS has reserves $1.9M above the necessary minimum. LWVEF has reserves in excess of $3M above the minimum.
While a balanced budget is our long-term goal, the need to invest in the organization and our mission-related work is critical at this time. With the economic uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects the virus will have on voter access in the 2020 elections, our mission work is needed now more than ever. In addition, we need to continue to build upon the momentum of the Transformation Roadmap and the signature national redistricting effort, People Power Fair Maps™. Both LWVUS and LWVEF budgets include planned drawdowns from reserves: a ($588,879) budget deficit for LWVUS for the two-year period and a ($2.4M) budget deficit for LWVEF.
It is appropriate to use excess reserves during periods of economic uncertainty to ensure our critical mission-related work will continue. It is also acceptable to use excess reserves to fund nonrecurring expenses that build long-term capacity. The 2020-22 biennium budget includes the redevelopment of the E.The.People (ETP) software that powers key sections of the VOTE411 website. The 2020-22 biennium includes technology advancements needed to further advance the goals outlined in the Transformation Roadmap and strategic goals.
Individual contributions are the most significant component of revenue, and most of this comes from non-League members. Public support for our work has increased dramatically since the 2016 election. Still, with the high unemployment and market uncertainty the COVID-19 crisis brings and presidential elections in November 2020, we are expecting declines in this area of revenue.
Per Member Payments (PMP) make up our second-largest revenue stream. Membership numbers have increased, and thus PMP budgeted revenues have increased since the 2016 election, but with the concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus, we are expecting a small drop in membership. The PMP rate will not increase during the 2020-2022 biennium.
One of our goals over the past biennium has been to diversify our revenue streams. Significant effort went into developing relationships with several foundations in the democracy space, which has resulted in increased support. Initial efforts have also been made to identify and cultivate potential corporate sponsors. Both foundation and corporate support may be subject to change in this changing landscape.
Licensing fees include revenue from VOTE411.org. Other income is comprised of $2M in in-kind revenue related to a grant from Google for free advertisements for VOTE411.org and web services as well as pro bono legal services. Election Services, ETP, and Advocacy & Litigation have an in-kind expense line in their budgets that correspond with this income.
The combined LWVUS and LWVEF budgets support all functions of the national organization and are aligned with our mission and consistent with the new strategic goals. The presentation of the budget is organized by function, with program areas listed individually. Staff expenses are allocated based on “actual time spent” provided by the allocation ratios for functional costs in these and all other departments.
Much of the national organizations’ work and resultant social impact at the local, state, and national levels is carried out by volunteers. However, the in-kind value of such support is not reflected in these budgets.
Development, our most significant expense, is revenue-producing and is an investment in the organization for the short and long term. Some Development costs promote and drive our mission work, though most expenses are tied to revenue generation. Development costs include staff time, consultants needed for specialized fundraising avenues, mailing list rental costs, printing, postage, and more.
Administrative Services is a centralized cost center for shared expenses such as rent, telephone, some technology licenses, staff, board, and other resources necessary for the League to operate at a national level. Many of the technological advancements needed to continue our work on the Transformation Roadmap are in this budget.
Mission Impact includes much of the core mission work of the League and is mostly housed in LWVEF; this work includes voter registration, voter mobilization, organizing, and VOTE411.
Communications includes our rapid response, social media, earned media, and digital marketing campaigns and maintenance, as well as upgrades to LWV.org.
Advocacy and Litigation includes both lobbying and non-lobbying activities to help shape public policies at the national, state, and local levels. The continued focus on protecting voters and voting rights and redistricting reform under our Campaign for Making Democracy Work® and the People Power Fair Maps™ campaign continues into this next biennium.
Member Services continues a focus on sharing best practices and supporting communication of our mission work, along with member/leadership development through Council, Convention, and the Shur Fellows program. This area also includes our diversity, equity, and inclusion work.
Outcome and Evaluations develops our program impact and evaluation framework, as well as the associated data collection and analysis.
ETP is the expenses relate to the redevelopment and maintenance of the ETP software, which powers key functions of the VOTE411 website.