Treasurer's Note: BEMS NL 230

Authored by: Phil Chadwick

Published on: Apr 10, 2013

Finances

The accountants have not yet done their annual review, but preliminary figures suggest that we are headed for a surplus this year (around $35k). Much of this comes from a very successful Annual Scientific Meeting in Brisbane, which contributed $26k. This is a very good outcome, and a great endorsement of our new model of running meetings using outside contractors with no upfront funding, a model we have extended to BioEM2013 and beyond. We also have a record profit share ($74k) from the operations of our Journal, and we have to thank Jim Lin for another successful year and of course, in Jim's words, “the joint efforts of the associate editors, editorial board members, referees and authors who elect to submit their research to Bioelectromagnetics for publication”. Thank you all.

The surpluses we have made in the last 2 years, along with some restructuring of our accounts to reflect the changing way we operate the Society, have left us with around $75k which we can transfer to reserves. That is the first transfer to reserves in more than a decade. My suggestion, after discussion with our advisors at Merrill lynch, is to put this in a medium-term access account that could be used for development of and investment in the Society's future. I will be asking the Board to consider this formally at its next meeting.

I will report more fully on finances when we have the results of the accountants' review, but as I prepare to hand over to Andrew Wood as Treasurer I am confident that the financial affairs of our Society are in far better shape than they have been for a very long time.

Membership

As I write this I am looking at the current membership figures, and for the first time in some years seeing signs for optimism as we hit 250 members by early April. We had 250 or so for the whole of last year, so we seem set to get many more members this year than last year. Compared to the steady 50+ losses we have seen year-on-year for the last few years this is a big improvement.

We did this by taking some simple steps to try to get back people who lapsed as well as encouraging a few non-members to join; I contacted all the people who were 2011 members but did not renew in 2012 and asked them why not. In many cases, people had simply forgotten and subsequently renewed, but it s also clear that major drivers were retirement and early-career scientists and students moving to other fields

Annual Scientific Meetings

We have always made decisions on annual scientific meetings sites jointly with EBEA in years when we had joint meetings (usually every four years or so), most recently for the 2013 meeting in Thessloniki.
 
With an agreement in place to hold all future meetings jointly we decided to formalise the selection process and make it more rigorous, more open and more transparent. Over the summer of 2012 a joint BEMS/EBEA working group drew up a set of meeting site selection criteria and scoresheets. These were agreed upon formally by the BEMS Board and EBEA Council, and a call for meeting proposals was issued in early October. This resulted in a number of expressions of interest and, finally, in four full proposals which were considered by the meeting site section committee. These proposals were all excellent, and I am confident that we would have had extremely good meetings had we chosen any of them.  They all had very different characteristics and It was tough to chose between them.

In the end, after several rounds of voting, we chose Cape Town, South Africa for the 2014 meeting and Asilomar, Northern California (near Monterey), USA, for the 2015 meeting. We have very good local organisers in place for both meetings; Marnus van Wyk for Cape Town and Rich Nuccitelli for Asilomar

The selection criteria were tough, and I was pleased that we got four really excellent, well-thought-out and comprehensive proposals. On behalf of the meeting selection committee I would like to thank all the people who submitted proposals for their very hard work and also for their willingness to take on such a big task for the Society.