Woes continue for the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) which is experiencing a dramatic loss of members. The club’s recently passed budget for 2021 shows a deficit of $230,310, and that’s after 15 employee terminations and other cuts.
“The Executive Board gave no solution about how to pay for this huge deficit except to say we would have to ‘just pull it out of our investment account,'” FMCA president Jon Walker wrote recently to board members.
In the first five months of this year, club memberships have declined sharply. After gaining a net 28 members in January, the club lost a net 331 members in February; 787 in March, 1,177 in April and 490 in May. “In June we are trending to lose between 600 to 700 members,” Walker explained.
Club membership was at 80,384 last August.
Walker also noted that the member renewal rate is down 5.5 percent from this time last year and its member join rate down 32.5 percent. “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact in the last two months, but our huge loss started when the dues increase took effect in September, 2019,” he said.
The club raised the price of a new membership then from $60 a year to $85 to help cover the $800,000 annual cost of the FMAssist emergency medical evacuation and repatriation program. By comparison, the Escapees RV club, with a stable membership, charges $39.95. At its recent meeting, Walker urged the executive board to discontinue the costly member benefit to balance the budget, but board members voted to keep it.
“With the forced cancellation of our winter convention in Tucson, Arizona, and the cancellation of our summer convention/Governing Board meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska, your association has gone from a financially positive state to a very negative financial state,” he wrote.
“Please keep in mind that the financial advisors who manage our investments tell us that FMCA should have a minimum of two times our annual budget in our investments. In our case that should be somewhere near $16 million. Our current audit report tells us that we have to earmark over $5.5 million to cover prepaid dues, loans, and Tucson/Lincoln refund certificates. With our investment account of only $7.8 million at the time of this writing, we are in a very, very precarious position.
“It is my position as your President to tell you that as much as I love the FMCAssist benefit and what it means to the members who need to use it, we simply cannot afford to pay for it this coming year. That benefit has been a good recruiting tool for us, but we frankly cannot afford it at this time. We also learned a couple of days ago that the FMCAssist administrator and insurance company is now selling a similar program to individuals on the open market for less than your current FMCA dues. That fact makes it very difficult to use FMCAssist as the main reason to join FMCA.”
FMCA RELIES ON INCOME from its two international rallies to earn a major part of its income. But both have been cancelled for this year, and next year’s gathering in March is not even assured, but dependent on the Pandemic.
The club’s monthly magazine Family RVing, once hugely profitable, is losing money. In 2005, the periodical averaged 288 advertising-packed pages per issue. Its just-published July edition is 108 pages with little advertising.
FMCA’s Forums, have been closed to new posts and comments. “This was necessitated by the FMCA Executive Board essentially eliminating funding for Forums monitoring,” a message says on the forum front page. The forum has been a popular member benefit, and has been where members discussed the club’s financial situation.
Although RVtravel.com was not able to obtain profit and loss figures for 2019, public records show the club lost $606,302 in 2018 and $1,587,853 in 2017. “Those years were with two events. Imagine how bad this year will be with zero event income to offset the cancellation of both events,” CEO Chris Smith wrote to one member who had requested a refund on his registration prepayment for the Tucson rally, which the club denied. FMCA offered members vouchers instead, good for future events.
FMCA was founded as a non-profit organization in 1963 in Hinckley, Maine, by a contingent of “house car” owners. Through the years, the average age of a member has gradually crept higher and is now about 70.