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The economics of STC membership: for everything else, there's Mastercard

By Geoff Hart

[A slightly different version of this article was previously published as: Hart, G.J. 2005. The economics of STC membership: for everything else, there's Mastercard. Tieline, February 2005.]

Members often ask what advantages they receive for their membership dollars. The answer is so obvious we sometimes fail to see it. With apologies to the kind souls at MasterCard, a few thoughts on the value of your STC membership:

Monthly meetings: $100

Meetings are where the anonymity of a large organization is replaced by the warmth of a community of kindred spirits. Without for a moment detracting from that warmth, let’s not ignore the financial benefits. A typical STC chapter offers free attendance to its members, but typically charges non-members $5 to $10. (At STC Montreal, we have recently increased this fee to $10 to cover room-rental costs.) These costs are actually quite a bargain, as most professional societies charge considerably more. For example, the November meeting of the American Society for Quality’s Montreal chapter asked for $25 from its members, and more for late registration; other societies charge even higher rates.

Let’s do some simple number crunching: Since our chapter holds ten meetings per year, including purely social occasions such as banquets or wine and cheese parties in the fall, in December, and in the summer, the savings add up to $100 per year for the stalwarts who attend each meeting. (There are some of us in every chapter.)

Workshops: $50

But wait, there’s more! Most chapters that hold day-long workshops or seminars, including STC Montreal, routinely offer members a discount of around $50 compared with non-member fees. Attend STC’s annual conference and the savings are even better: $200. But not everyone attends the annual conference, so let’s just stick with local events that anyone could attend.

Tax deductions: $70

Let’s not forget our good friends at Revenue Canada. STC membership fees are generally deductible from your income tax, particularly for freelancers. In many jurisdictions including Quebec, STC membership qualifies as an educational expense. [A look back from 2006: Elsewhere, you can write off most of the cost as a charitable donation, since STC is registered as an educational charity in the U.S. For more information on deducting STC dues from your taxes if you live in the U.S., see the article, "U.S. members: deduct your STC dues", which appears every year in Intercom.—GH]

Tax deductions vary according to membership category, but let’s look at the case of members who renew at the classic rate (ca. $200). Revenue Canada lets you deduct the price of membership. That represents a potential tax savings of up to $100, depending on your tax bracket.

Membership: priceless!

Let’s total these savings to satisfy your inner bean counter: $100 in meeting fees, $50 in workshop fees, and $70 in tax savings, for a grand total of $220—more than it cost to renew if you take full advantage of all these membership benefits! (Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t really quit my day job to work as an accountant.)

Of course, these are just the membership benefits that make your accountant’s heart sing. None of this includes the value of STC’s publications (Intercom, Technical Communication, and SIG and chapter newsletters), the networking opportunities you obtain from attending meetings or participating in STC’s communities (chapters and SIGs), and most important of all, the priceless opportunity to meet kindred spirits and enjoy their company. Those are the real benefits of membership to many of us.

©2004–2018 Geoffrey Hart. All rights reserved