The Financial Health of Our Organizations: AMTA

This marks the second year I have reported on the financial health of the non-profit organizations that represent the massage profession. I am not an accountant or a financial expert. The information reported here comes directly from Form 990 as filed with the IRS; non-profits are obligated to make their tax reports public knowledge, and these can be easily accessed on Guidestar.

Last year I reported that the American Massage Therapy Association had taken a hard hit from the recession. The AMTA has gone through some major changes this year, not the least of which was the sudden departure of Elizabeth Lucas, the former Executive Director. Lucas’ compensation accounts for a big chunk of change on the filing, $279,438 to be exact, almost $6000 less than last year. Shelly Johnson, the former Assistant Executive Director who is currently Interim Executive Director, actually received $14,000 more in 2009 than she did the previous year. I personally support Shelly for moving permanently into Lucas’ vacated position; I do have to say, however, that I thought Lucas was overcompensated and I hope that the next ED, whomever it is, will not be getting more money than the governor of most states, which was formerly the situation. Compensation overall increased by $144,004. Since the membership dues collected went down by over $150,000, and the total revenues have declined by $459,000 since the previous year, I have to wonder why we’re paying out more money to provide services for less people.

The balance sheet shows accounts payable of almost $3.5 million and accounts receivable of only $241K.

AMTA spent $40K less on lobbyists during the 2009 fiscal year than 2008. I’m not sure that’s a good move, unless the organization is sending out board members in place of the lobbyists. When it comes to protecting the legal rights of massage therapists and putting a stop to detrimental legislation, I think that’s one of the obligations of this organization to the stakeholders. I’d rather see the lobbyists paid and that money cut somewhere else.

Travel expenses were cut again this year by about 15K, but office expenses rose by more than twice that amount. In fairness, total functional expenses decreased by $568K, so they’re saving money somewhere. Total net assets declined; total liabilities increased, which is still a move in the wrong direction.  Grants and assistance to organizations declined by over $265,000. The main beneficiary of that money has in the past been the Massage Therapy Foundation; hence Ruth Werner’s presentation at the open BOD meeting in Minneapolis about the necessity of seeking other partners to support the Foundation sounds all the more like a good plan to me.

AMTA is certainly not alone in being fiscally challenged by the economy. In the coming weeks I will be reporting on financial status of the other non-profit organizations. I need to say that I am a card-carrying member of AMTA, and reporting on their finances is obligatory to me as one who tries to keep up with what’s going on in the world of massage and keep my readers informed. I report the news, whether it’s good or bad, and that doesn’t always suit everybody all of the time. I don’t apologize for it.

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