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What I told them in Texas: OWAA headed into a strong year

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BY TOM SADLER
One of the best parts of my job is spending time at our conferences. And one of the best parts of going to conference is having the chance to update the membership on what is happening with OWAA.
I know not everyone makes it to conference, so here’s a recap of what I shared in Texas.
The budget and revenue
The board approved a balanced budget for 2014. This reflects the financial stability of the organization due to increased membership and support. While attendance at conference was low due to a variety of factors, the impact to
the budget should be manageable.
As of May 15 we are in line or slightly ahead of budgeted dues revenue. Supporting groups continue to provide the bulk — 60 percent — of this revenue.
Excellence in Craft Contest revenues were up 36 percent compared to what we projected, thanks to a $4,400 sponsorship from the National Rifle Association along with returning sponsors from 2013.
Expenses are in line with projections — and that’s a good thing.
The key to our financial security rests predominantly in the revenue side of our operations. We can’t “cut” our way to financial security; we need to “grow” our way there and we are beginning to see that happen.
Membership
Each year at the end of April we purge our rolls of members and supporting groups that did not renew.
A May-to-May comparison of our membership numbers shows a small growth in individual membership and a 10 percent growth in supporting groups.
Retaining members is vitally important. To that end I personally contacted all the members and supporting groups who did not renew this year. Of those I contacted, 24 percent of the individual members and 14 percent of the supporting groups renewed.
The list of those who did not renew is available and anyone interested in seeing it should contact me. If you have a relationship with anyone who opted out this year, please contact them and ask them to renew their membership and support. If someone has a problem with something the headquarters team or I have done, please let me know so I may try and address it.
Marketing and exposure
OWAA is the sponsor of the press room at the International Fly Tackle Dealer show. This opportunity will expose the leading fly-fishing manufacturers to OWAA and provides us a unique opportunity to market OWAA.
This is a barter arrangement with the association where we exchanged promotional opportunities between the two organizations — for example you might have seen the American Fly Fishing Trade Association logo on the room keys at the Embassy Suites.
Thanks to the excellent efforts of Micheal Furtman, OWAA received wonderful exposure in Outdoor America, the Izaak Walton League of America’s magazine. Furtman’s article, “Conservation Cohorts,” chronicles the formation of OWAA by Izaak Walton league members in 1927 and how the conservation ties of the two organizations remains strong today. If you would like a copy, let me know.
Headquarters
The focus for the headquarters team continues to be recruiting new members and supporters. We continue to look for innovative ways to recruit both individual members and supporters.
We will also improve member and supporter communications. This is an important retention tool. We will be looking at how we can increase website and social media engagement, increase appeal and engagement via OU, put publications online and develop and launch an online membership database.
The future
The work you do is as important, if not more important, than when OWAA was started 87 years ago. The challenges to our outdoor recreation heritage continues, our elected representatives are at odds and the work of our members is truly the Voice of Outdoors and needs to be heard loud and clear, now more than ever. ♦
— OWAA Executive Director Tom Sadler, tsadler@owaa.org
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