CNGA Board Message: Investment in the Future

By Kerri Dantino | 2020-2021 CNGA Board President

CNGA Board President
Kerri Dantino

For the first time ever, your CNGA Board of Directors has approved a negative income budget for the year. 2021 will push the nonprofit income negatively into the six figures mark. Why, you might ask? 

First and foremost, our income from ProGreen was projected to be approximately one third of what it typically is. ProGreen, along with membership dues, is a major source of income for our association. Since we had a virtual trade show this year, the income was very different than it is when we have a full, in-person trade show. 

Second, we decided to keep the association running at full speed. Our decision to approve a negative budget was not a decision that the Board or CNGA staff took lightly. We trimmed costs where we could while allowing the incredible CNGA staff to run the association to meet the needs of our members.

While our industry is thriving as a result of people’s increased time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, many associations are struggling to continue functioning. Matthew Chappell, Editor-at-Large for Nursery & Landscape Insider recently wrote:

“For now, I wanted to wrap up with a theme from 2020-21, which is the loss of organizations that support our industry. The Southern Nursery Association…is only the most recent. We also lost one of my favorites, The Western, which was a gut punch. Many of our state and regional associations are holding on by a thread. And it’s a shame because it would only take a little support to maintain them.

“And yet many of us (myself included) have in the past complained about membership dues, trade show fees, etc. We do so not understanding that these associations are typically nonprofit organizations that aren’t trying to stiff us. Many only have one or two employees that somehow keep everything moving along without cause for concern, from lobbying at the state level to setting up and tearing down trade shows. We complain about dues or show fees and then go drop a few thousand dollars on a vacation or buy a new truck that massages your butt while you drive.

“Maybe it’s time folks start thinking of these associations as not a burden, but an investment. I can guarantee you that if these associations go away, a lot more local and state regulations will blindside us in the future. And I bet that you’ll one day wish you had a trade show (virtual or otherwise) to lure new customers or find new suppliers. Maybe you’ll also realize that these associations fund the research that provides real answers to your questions.

“Just a thought: Maybe we should invest in the things that provide the intangibles our industry was built on.”

We are incredibly lucky to be able to stand on the shoulders of those before us who helped the association build a healthy reserve account. The foresight by past board members and staff was crucial to the success of the CNGA and it allows us to continue to support our members in a year that, otherwise, could feel very different. We are extremely grateful for your support during this time. 

The CNGA will continue to provide education, legislative advocacy, social gatherings (when it’s safe to do so), and fellowship to our members. Our recent member survey gave us some great feedback for what seems to be working and what could be improved, and we appreciate your participation. As a board, we continue to help steer the association in the direction that fills the needs of our members. The best way for us to do that is to understand what your needs are!

As we move into the busy time of the time, I want to wish you continued success! We are so lucky to be part of such an incredible industry!