The reality of a worldwide economic recession is indisputably obvious. Reports of its deleterious effects here in the Willamette Valley are distressingly more common, with news of company after company in a variety of industries forced to lay off employees or close their doors. We hear word of large staff reductions at some of the big Portland architectural firms, those whose portfolios were too heavily weighted toward project types dependent upon speculative financing. AIA-Southwestern Oregon architects are also not immune to the downturn in the economy. When it comes to coldly evaluating where limited dollars should be spent, it may be inevitable for some that the value of AIA membership must be questioned.
Personal circumstances may simply dictate that one cannot allocate funds toward membership dues. The financial hardship associated with losing a job is a most obvious case in point and one that will be confronted by more and more of our colleagues as the recession deepens. The AIA has received many requests from members regarding the possibilities of membership dues waivers. Dues waivers are indeed available, and it is through the local AIA components and chapters that such waivers are administered.
The AIA-Southwestern Oregon Chapter, in exceptional circumstances and after consultation with the AIA Institute Secretary, may waive all or any part of the dues owed by a member at any level of membership in the AIA. The Secretary may waive or defer payment of the Institute dues of any member for up to one year upon written presentation of satisfactory evidence of financial hardship, medical disability, sabbatical, family leave, unemployment or partial employment, or such other hardship as may reasonably justify a waiver. A minimum annual payment may be required in all cases to cover the cost of mailings. A waiver may not be granted in two consecutive years, except that medical disability, sabbatical, and family leave waivers are annual and renewable upon request for up to a total of three consecutive years.
If you are a member of AIA-SWO and would like to request a dues waiver for 2009, the five-step request process is as follows:
- The applicant completes the 2009 waiver form for submission to AIA-SWO. This form will soon be available electronically for downloading from the AIA-SWO web site. Note that the membership contact names, phone numbers, and email addresses of the local (AIA-SWO) and state (AIA Oregon) components required to fill in the waiver form are printed in the upper left hand corner of the 2009 AIA renewal invoice. Members will receive their 2009 membership invoices in the mail during the month of December.
- The AIA-SWO board reviews the request and either approves or denies it. If it is approved, the Institute bylaws require that AIA-SWO forward the request to AIA Oregon for review.
- AIA Oregon reviews the request and either approves or denies it. If AIA Oregon recommends approval of the request, it is forwarded to the AIA National Membership Strategy & Services Department.
- The National Membership Strategy & Services Department forwards the request to the Secretary of the Institute for final approval or denial.
- The applicant receives a letter from the Institute informing him/her of the outcome of the request.
The dues waiver program is offered to ensure that we retain as many members as possible during this difficult economic period. Do not underestimate the value of being a member of the leading professional membership association for architects. The AIA is the voice of the architectural profession and the resource for our members in service to society. If you are an individual member confronted with the difficult choice of whether you can justify the cost of AIA membership dues because of financial hardship, do consider the option of pursuing a dues waiver. Your continued membership in the organization strengthens our profession and offers you access to valuable resources and the support and encouragement of your fellow architects and associates when you might need it most.