The topic of whether USA Dance needs an executive director and staff is raised frequently within the Governing Council. As a national volunteer who spends many hours running the day-to-day operations of USA Dance, I personally know how much easier it would be to rely on staff to do many of the tasks I find it necessary to do on behalf of the organization. What a luxury to leave the day-to-day administration to an executive director – all of us at the national level have wished for this to some degree or another.
But the reality is that being able to hire an executive director and staff takes funds, and in an organization like USA Dance, which relies primarily on membership dollars for its income, finding the necessary funds is not easy. Established Olympic program sports like figure skating or gymnastics have major sponsors and television rights for their national competitions to support their programs. Even smaller Olympic program sports are able to secure a level of funding from the USOC which significantly helps their bottom line and provides the financial stability necessary to employ an executive director and staff.
At such time as USA Dance becomes a Pan American Sport, some funding will become available from the USOC, but that is five or more years into the future. At this time the avenues available to us for finding the funds to hire an executive and administrative staff would be to raise dues, consolidate or reduce programs or find regular sponsors or another source of steady income. Some of these means would not be popular with our members, who want and expect services to be increased, not decreased, and may not necessarily be prepared to pay higher dues to get those services. Our entire organization will need to have a frank discussion on what we want USA Dance to look like in the future and how we want to get there.
The GC has initiated ways to increase revenue through sponsorships and fund raising campaigns, and some of these methods do hold promise for us. What is clear is that we cannot continue forever to rely on national volunteers to contribute all the hours they are presently contributing, especially as the complexity of USA Dance is growing.
My hope is that before USA Dance becomes a Pan American Sport (which can happen as early as 2019) we will have found the right formula to attract additional regular funding so that an executive and administrative staff becomes a reality for our organization.