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.

9 Replies to “The Financial Health of Our Organizations: AMTA”

  1. How much did that billboard in Times Square and Vegas Cost? Just wondering as that was another big waste in my opinion. It could have been better spent on more effective advertising.

    Thanks for the report Laura!


  2. Thanks for doing so good a job reporting on the financial status of the Amta. As a former card carrying member that has plugged into resources that divulge such things, I can appreciate the time consumption and tediousness of the work.

    It’s tragic more money is not available for protecting those the Amta has impacted by their lobbying for state laws, especially those doing the work. The true beneficiaries (schools and other industry segments) of those efforts will have to defend themselves.

    It seems a little ironic those coming into the trade via the less than beneficent beneficiaries
    of their efforts are rejecting membership in the organization responsible for what they have to comply with. Apparently the lack of interest in big picture politics pervades our work. As a 501(c)6, the largest nonprofit for our trade is more a political machine than a representative of the vast majority of those doing this work.

    The Rev

  3. Seems to me that the article and the reply posts underscore the problem with the way AMTA goes about it’s business. In fact, they are, at the same time, arguing against the NCBTMB getting into insurance in competition with other groups already in existence. AMTA purports to represent the entire industry while being funded by a membership, thus creating, it seems to me, a conflict of interest. AMTA would better serve AND be better served by either being a non-profit political presence (lobbyists – let’s call it what it is) to the industry OR a for-profit association of massage therapists offering Continuing Ed credit courses, selling insurance to members and other assorted member-supported activities. In all fairness, I am not an AMTA member. What AMTA has going now has all the earmarks of a union without the collective bargaining agreements.

  4. Someone who prefers to remain anonymous sent me the following:

    In looking at a non-profit’s Form 990, lines 19 and 22 on page 1 are the most telling numbers. Line 19 gives the net profit (revenue less expenses) and Line 22 gives the Fund Balance. In spite of the fact that AMTA continues to slowly lose membership while ABMP grows theirs, AMTA managed to increase their net from $404,886 in 2008-09, to $515,195 in 2009-10. Their fund balance increased from $4,607,002 to $9,441,672. Most of that increase is due to a return in value from their investment portfolio that took such a hit previously.

    MY NOTE: Last year AMTA lost $5.6 million in their investment portfolio.

  5. Laura,

    AMTA believes in being transparent with our members and the profession. So, we are happy you and others take the time to examine our financial report.

    With that in mind, we’d like to correct some information you presented, to ensure your readers understand the facts of AMTA’s finances. It seems some of the information in our 990 may have been misunderstood.

    First and foremost, it’s important to note that our net assets did not in fact decline. They actually went up by $4.8 million (from $4.6 to $9.4 million dollars) with strong investment gains.

    We too look at staff compensation. We value the employees we entrust to carry out AMTA’s vision and plans, and recognize they represent an expense. In fact, every staff position is compared on a regular basis to published benchmarks for comparably-sized non-profit organizations and the new ED’s compensation will be determined by the same method. This will guarantee AMTA’s ED will be compensated in a range equal to others working for associations in the Chicago area. Please note that the salary reference in the most recent 990 includes all benefits costs. As we are sure everyone who has employees knows, benefits costs continue to increase.

    You mentioned the small number of accounts receivable, and that is correct. The receivables are not where our core membership revenue flows through, so that number is a small portion of our reporting and mostly reflects some of our non-dues revenue activities. The more significant number is the $1.4 million increase in cash and short term securities which reflects solid liquidity.

    To clarify the details of the accounts payable, as reported in the 990 a large portion of that reflects the insurance reserve we hold for our membership. The remainder is funds we hold for our chapters, various accrued expenses, and then general accounts payable which are inline with previous years.

    Certainly we all remain cautious during these tough economic times, and due to a rebounding of the market and well-thought-out control of expenses, while vigilantly protecting the benefits offered to our membership, AMTA remains in a healthy financial position to keep investing in our members and the profession.

    We remain committed to doing so transparently, as noted by the timely filing of our 990 for public review. This is something we take very seriously as a non-profit professional association.

    If you or anyone else ever has a question about how AMTA does its work or our finances, please feel free to contact us.

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