GIS/LIS Budget is Strong
By Tim Loesch, Treasurer
For the past 15 years the MN GIS/LIS Conference has been held as the premier GIS/LIS learning and networking opportunity in the state. If you are like me you didn’t think much about what was going on behind the scenes, it was too engaging and fun to think about much else. That was until I became the GIS/LIS Treasurer in 2004. Since then I have gained an understanding of the task and developed a real appreciation for the folks that work hard to pull these things off.
The MN GIS/LIS is a non-profit organization and survives on the revenue generated by the fall conference. We have been fortunate to have great conferences over the years but having all our revenue come from a single source puts the Consortium in a risky position. The Consortium had no plans in place to deal with a conference that did not make money.
In 2003 the consortium experienced such an event. That year the conference was held at the St. Paul River Centre in St. Paul. While this conference had the highest attendance, the increased costs associated with hosting the conference in the Twin Cities were not anticipated and expenditures exceeded revenue. As a result, the Consortium teetered on the verge of financial collapse and drastic measures had to be taken to survive as an organization.
Fortunately things have gotten better. A string of successful conferences from 2004 – 2007 have improved the bottom line of the Consortium and we are currently in sound financial shape. Preliminary numbers from the 2007 conference show revenues of $173,000, costs of $138,000, and a net surplus of $35,000.
During the past year the Consortium’s Board has added two new accounts to its budget and invested each with funds. These two funds illustrate maturation and strength of the organization.
Reserve Fund - This fund is meant to shield the Consortium from an unsuccessful conference. The goal of the reserve fund is to have enough funds to cover one full year of operations – roughly $100,000. Currently this fund has a balance of $10,000.
- Scholarship Fund – The balance for the Scholarship fund has hovered around $5000 since 2004. The revenues from this fund are distributed to the Scholarship award winners and it is funded by Conference Beer Tasting, Silent Auction and the Consortium General Fund. The Goal is to grow this account to a $100,000 endowment fund so that all student scholarship and competition awards can be supported from the interest on the fund. The current fund was originally started with a donation from the Ultimap User Group when that group ceased operation.
One of the more exciting plans for the Consortium this year is to formalize the Scholarship Endowment and provide a venue for GIS professionals to make tax-deductible contributions to this fund. I also expect that the Reserve Fund will continue to build.