The SETI League, Inc., a membership-supported, non-profit {501(c)(3)}, educational and scientific organization Searching for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence

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Because Times Are Tough
by H. Paul Shuch
Executive Director Emeritus

When the SETI League was founded almost thirty years ago, most of the world was in a relative economic boom, and funding was, if not abundant, then at least adequate to pursue our modest educational and scientific missions. One of my first tasks as your newly appointed Executive Director was to establish membership rules and a dues structure. Since individual financial situations vary, your Board of Trustees approved a total of ten membership tiers, requiring financial commitments ranging from $15 all the way up to one million US dollars. (Admittedly, we have not as yet had anyone signing up for that top category, but we can always hope, can't we?)

To put it delicately, today's global economy is not quite as robust as it was back in 1994, and many of our members have found our published dues structure to be financially prohibitive. Fortunately, in the past couple of decades we have transitioned from a service organization with a few paid employees, to one that operates on a strictly volunteer basis. As a result, but thanks to technological advances, we were able to scale back expenses on a number of fronts. We eliminated most printing and postage costs by going to online distribution of our newsletters and press releases, phased out some of our scientific projects and reduced the scope of others, and curtailed the costly travel necessary to have a presence at major scientific meetings and symposia in exotic locations.

Unfortunately, as we scaled back on our activities, the value received by our members for dues paid began to diminish. Instead of being able to do more with less, we found ourselves doing less and less with less.

Last month, at a Special Board Meeting (held, of course, online via the Zoom teleconferencing platform), your Trustees decided it was time to stem the flow of members to the exits, by reducing the dues burden we impose on our membership. If you are still a member, you recently received a renewal letter specifying expected dues payments, but with one important change from previous years. Members able to do so are still encouraged to renew at their customary dues rate, but we don't want anyone to feel left out due to financial circumstance. Thus, for 2024 (and probably indefinitely into the future), any contribution within a member's comfort level will be accepted as dues payment in full, with all the rights and privileges (plus services, no matter how limited) of SETI League membership in good standing.

If your circumstances and resources allow, we will of course be happy to accept dues in full in any of those ten membership tiers. Perhaps we'll someday even be able to welcome our first Million Dollar Donor - maybe not. But in any case, we hope never again to lose a SETI League member due to financial limitations. So, thank you for your ongoing support, at whatever level works for you.

Yours for SETI Success,

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in editorials are those of the individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of The SETI League, Inc., its Trustees, officers, Advisory Board, members, donors, or commercial sponsors.

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