Richard Prince, Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education
The Asian American Journalists Association has turned a $207,000 deficit to a $399,000 surplus, emerging "stronger than ever" from the financial challenges roiling nonprofits and the journalism industry in general, and AAJA in particular, outgoing National President Sharon Pian Chan told members in a year-end message.
"We rode this economic rollercoaster and AAJA has emerged stronger than ever," Chan said in a message posted Dec. 22 on the AAJA website. "We changed executive directors and we are now headed into AAJA's 30th year with the excellent Kathy Chow at the helm. We are projected to end 2010 with a $399,000 surplus, compared to a $207,000 deficit last year.
"We repaid our $154,000 endowment loan, plus interest above U.S. prime lending rate. Our membership has stabilized at 1,500. We added another star to the flag — AAJA Denver is our 21st chapter. We continue to innovate with our ELP Media Demonstration Projects with new business models and new platforms for delivering news," she said, referring to the association's Executive Leadership Program.
Chan, a reporter at the Seattle Times, ends her term Friday, at year's end, when Doris Truong, a multiplatform editor at the Washington Post who was elected president in August, takes over.
Chan's message stood in sharp contrast to one she sent to members in November 2009. She wrote then that the association expected to face a $177,000 deficit at the end of that year.
"Our traditional media supporters are struggling to stay in business and, in some cases, have shut down. Some of you have lost your jobs because of cuts sweeping the industry, making it difficult to attend the national convention — which historically made up half of our cash flow — or even to renew your membership," she wrote.
Asked how AAJA went from deficit to surplus, Chan responded by e-mail on Monday:
"Our board, chapters and national office pulled together and made collective sacrifices to weather this financial storm. We instituted a new administrative fee for donations made toward programs and scholarships. We reduced our national expenses by moving to a smaller office and we decreased our staff size through attrition. Our chapters provided financial support for the whole AAJA family, both by sending funds and reducing their share of membership dues. And our national convention in L.A. made money, thanks to fundraising by the national office and L.A. chapter, and a strong turnout from all our members across the country."
She said 885 people registered for its summer convention.
In the student-written convention newspaper, AAJA Voices, Elizabeth Gyori wrote in August, "One of the measures used to ensure fiscal stability was asking individual chapters to contribute money to the national office. [See "Special report: Examining the state of AAJA's finances."] Several chapters contributed more money than asked for and were happy to help out.
"Another major change was starting a fundraising policy that allows AAJA to accept money from companies outside the traditional media industry. . . .
"AAJA also switched from Bank of America to the Bank of San Francisco because of lower credit-card fees. The Bank of San Francisco also gave AAJA a line of credit."