Where Do My Membership Fees Go?

Ed note: We are often asked how the money collected for dues is used. Here are excerpts of a response written by Professor Richard McGregor, Chairman of Council, in answer to this.

I can explain the subscriptions very straightforwardly. We set the subscription every year. Normally this does not change in sterling value unless notified at the AGM. However because the exchange rates go up and down, every year we try to reflect that in what we declare as the overseas rate for the year. So if our subscription is 17 pounds it remains at that (which by the way is standard for family history societies here in Britain) until changed by Council if needed.

 You ask what you get for this amount and what the benefits are:

First it is two Newsletters and occasionally three especially near a big International Gathering. The Newsletter is the primary means of communication between members of the Society. We encourage contributions and any type of material is welcome. The Newsletter also acts as a means of disseminating historical and genealogical information. The cost of printing and postage out to various parts of the world would normally take up at least a quarter of the annual income.

The subscription pays towards any website costs and we are working on having a ‘members only’ access which will allow members to request material for download and will have material available that is not for the general public. It contributes towards running Gatherings which we do every year and they are open to all members - usually they take place over a weekend but International Gatherings take a lot of planning which has to take place in advance. Planning for 2022 was  begun 4 years in advance.

Subscriptions are used to effect down-payments on accommodation, buses and reservations. It is also used for deposits on hotels of which there are very few that can accommodate 150 people for meeting and social events. The money used is regenerated by payments from attendees but income from subscriptions always has to be available as a ‘cushion’ in case people withdraw as a result of some crisis.

The subscription contributes to the historical, genealogical and cultural work that is done for the benefit of members - our objects state that the Society exists to help preserve the past, promote the culture of the clan, support individuals of the clan in need, and preserve and make available the history of the clan. Individuals can contact myself or Peter Lawrie on aspects of genealogy, DNA, history and so on and all contacts are free. Often this will involve me, for example, doing research on the member’s behalf, research which may take several hours.

Subscriptions contribute to educational grants to individuals who apply, donations to institutions or causes which have a direct connection with Clan Gregor or the history of Scotland, to the preservation and sometimes acquisition of articles of value for clan history and for their display in a public place (which means also insurance etc.).

Subscriptions provide the Secretary with the costs of the paper, printer cartridges etc. needed, and towards the use of a Council member’s house for Council meetings. No member of Council claims any travel expenses or telephone expenses for attending Council meetings. These are all paid by Council members him or herself. Travel claims are only paid for occasions when a Council member or anyone else makes a journey on clan business.

What subscriptions do not cover:

Membership dues do not cover all the things that we do - and the Newsletter contains reports from AGM, Council meetings etc. to show what these things are. The fact is that the total amount of money annually from dues simply does not cover everything. Major projects such as preserving the Dalmally gravestones do not use subscription funds except for travel expenses in some cases. Rather, projects are paid for by donations and/or requests such as the archaeological projects in Dalmally which have MacGregor associations.

Conclusion:

The annual Treasurer’s report is printed in the Newsletter ‐ and I should at this point just say that everything we do has to conform to the rules of the Charity Commission including annual reporting to members. The Society’s accounts are audited annually and all expenditure has to be recorded. Therefore I suggest that the first place for members to begin considering what they get for their money should be that report.

The importance that members attach to what we do depends entirely on how they view their personal Scottish heritage, how they view the importance of supporting an organization which seeks to preserve the heritage in Scotland in the first instance, and how important they believe matters like genealogical material publication, preservation of artefacts, contribution to historical associations, and educational support is to the work of the Society.

Members should be aware of the Objects of the Society as published in the Constitution and decide whether they believe that they support these. These Objects are the basis on which we operate.

Richard McGregor, Chairman of Council

 

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