BY DENNIS BROOKS, P.ENG., P.GEOPH.
Education Foundation Columnist
Note: The APEGGA Education Foundation, which is separate and
distinct from APEGGA, serves the professions by supporting
the education and development of engineers, geologists and
geophysicists, as well as those who might enter the three
professions. It assembles and manages funds, builds endowments
and encourages donations. The foundation distributes funds
for scholarships and awards, and in support of special projects.
We await the APEGGA Education Foundation auditor's report;
then I can give you the latest in campaign results. We didn't
receive enough in voluntary donations to double all scholarships,
but we did have a pretty good year and will be able to make
some substantial increases in scholarship awards.
Your foundation board is deliberating on exactly how this
money will be applied for the coming scholarship offerings.
The board is also busy planning the foundation's Annual General
Meeting (open only to foundation members), bringing some of
the year's business to a conclusion, and doing succession
planning. One of the year's items is a number of amendments
to the bylaws
Voluntary? Or Mandatory?
Member donations so far have been voluntary with the exception
of attendees at the Summit Awardsâ who are each assessed,
in their ticket prices, a charitable donation to your foundation.
Their companies sponsor many of these attendees.
Voluntary donations have grown considerably since our founding
in November of 1996 - from zero at the start to about $50,000
this past year. That is a good rate of growth.
However, when you consider APEGGA's membership base, it's
not a large amount per member. Arguments have been put forward
within the Foundation to introduce mandatory donation.
It is possible that this idea will be introduced to APEGGA
members before long, so I would like to put to you some of
the pros and cons so it can be debated intelligently if it
does come up.
The obvious advantage is the potential increase in member
donations. Even with a contribution of just $5 each, the total
contribution would be $175,000! We could do a lot with that
amount available for awards. With $10 per member we would
have $350,000 available.
We're told that chartered accountants are assessed $60 each
for their scholarship fund, so $10 would be very minimal by
that standard. A study needs to be done as to what other professions
do for scholarships.
I have read that lawyers make available a $10,000 scholarship;
that would be an enormous help to anyone in our professions
and would enhance our public image at the same time.
From a tax point of view, members are better off to have
an assessment included in their annual dues, since assessments
come directly as a deduction from income, whereas only a 17-per-cent
credit is allowed on a charitable donation (which, however,
is deductible directly from tax otherwise payable).
A complication arises when a member's company pays the dues.
Would they support even a $10 increase? Many of them already
support our professions by sponsoring attendance at the Summit
Awardsâ, and a number make a significant contribution
directly in support of the Summit ceremony. On the other hand,
they gain indirectly when our professions are promoted as
that draws good students to us - their future employees.
Of course, the main argument against automatic assessment
is that persons making charitable donations like to be able
to choose which charities they will support and in what amount.
The existing process of receiving donations and issuing tax
receipts allows members to do just that.
I have favoured voluntary contributions up to now. We have
not peaked in those contributions and we might well get to
$70,000 per year before we plateau. But $175,000 or more certainly
looks attractive in view of the objectives of our Foundation.
This subject deserves more study and more debate.