Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you are a member or someone interested in joining GWA, you are bound to have some questions. Below are a few questions we have received over the last few years.
Have additional questions? Contact us at 212.297.2198 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How is GWA Organized?
A Board of Directors of member-elected representatives directs GWA activities. To handle day-to-day operations, Board of Directors has contracted an association management company, Kellen.
GWA members are divided among seven regions. Each region is represented by three directors: two regional and one national. National directors are voting members of the GWA Board of Directors, regional members are not. In the absence of a national director, a regional director is designated to participate and vote on matters that come before the Board of Directors.
GWA covers the transportation and hospitality for the two meetings each year for the Board of Directors' Executive Committee and national directors. The GWA Board of Directors has a winter meeting, usually in January or February, and a meeting immediately before the Annual Conference & Expo. Following this meeting, the Executive Committee and current and new directors are introduced at the Annual Business Meeting during the conference. The Board of Directors and officers also are listed in each issue of On the QT, in the GWA Member Directory (log-in required) and at the GWA Website.
National directors must leave the board after serving two, consecutive three-year terms. Regional directors are elected for two-year terms and have no limits on the number of terms they may serve.
The Executive Committee is composed of the past president, president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and executive director.
Kellen supports, guides and promotes the professions and industries that impact people around the world every day. From the safety of the food we eat to the soundness of the buildings we live and work in to assurances about healthcare issues, we are committed to the success of the organizations we work with because we care about the many ways their work serves others.
Kellen's team is made up of more than 300 professionals around the globe and are specially trained in areas ranging from engineering to nutrition, from integrated communications to global consulting, and of course, in association management and meeting planning.
Kellen works with over 125 trade associations, professional societies and charitable organizations representing over 10,000 companies and 100,000 professionals worldwide. Kellen founded in 1964 and are charter-accredited through the Association Management Company Institute (AMCI). Kellen offices are located in Atlanta, Beijing, Brussels, Chicago, Denver, New York and Washington D.C.
GWA pays Kellen an annual fee for its services, which include all personnel, facilities and equipment to execute GWA programs. Kellen performs all administrative functions for GWA, including management of:
- Governance, including bylaws compliance, board of directors meetings and elections
- Committees and task forces
- Annual conference, including exhibits, sponsorship, planning and execution
- Regional meetings, workshops, seminars and short courses
- Communications and marketing
- Other support services as directed by the GWA board and agreed to by Kellen
Kellen also negotiates with corporate and not-for-profit partners on behalf of GWA for advertising in GWA publications and support for the Annual Conference & Expo, as well as other programs.
Kellen also performs these duties for the GWA Foundation, GWA's supporting foundation, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt charity under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code. Operated by GWA board-appointed volunteers, the foundation oversees Plant a Row for the Hungry, scholarship programs and all other Foundation projects.
How is GWA’s operating budget developed?
The Board of Directors approves GWA’s operating budget on an annual basis. GWA's budget year runs from January to December. At the start of the year, an official budget is adopted. The budget represents an estimate of revenue from members’ dues, annual conference and meetings, Authors’ Coalition funds, investment earnings and other projected non-dues program income. Revenues are balanced by projected expenses to execute programs created by the board, committees and task forces to support the long-range planning objectives identified by the board for that year.
GWA’s treasurer reviews monthly reports and approves expenditures. A pro forma review of the budget is conducted at the Board of Directors meeting held at the Annual Conference along with the preparation of a draft budget for the following year. Between the Annaul Conference Board of Directors meeting and January of the next year, committee and task force chairs request program funding based on work assigned as delineated in the long-range plan. The final budget and work program for the next year is reviewed, changed and approved at the January Board of Directors meeting. A summary of the association's financial information is presented at the annual membership meeting during the Annual Conference & Expo.
Membership dues and revenue from the annual conference and other meetings make up most of GWA’s income. GWA also participates in the Authors’ Coalition, along with 22 other creator groups. Participating organizations receive income derived from the use of copyright text, graphics, and photography outside the United States. GWA members receive a survey every few years to assess their works so uses can be tracked overseas.
GWA’s treasurer and the executive director analyze the budget according to anticipated economic conditions, program participation, possible cost increases and other factors. Year-to-year comparisons are reviewed and discussed by the Board of Directors as part of the approval process. Good financial stewardship generates a reserve fund to support GWA should memberships decline or other income not be received as projected.
How are fees established for memberships, programs, educational downloads and electronic media?
The Board of Directors determines all fees. Fees are set to be as low as possible yet cover certain expenses. Membership fees and the registration fees for the Annual Conference & Expo are reviewed annually. There have been no increases in GWA membership dues since 2003.
The registration fee for the Annual Conference & Expo increased slightly in 2009, primarily because food service costs have risen drastically. Without support from corporations, in the form of trade show fees and conference sponsorships, the registration fee, would increase by at least $140 per participant.
Regional meetings are budgeted to break even, so fees fluctuate depending on costs. To help keep fees low for some regional events, GWA provides financial assistance to cover the costs of speakers for special workshops, such as writing, public speaking, photography and blogging.
Are members compensated when they write articles for On the QT or speak at the Annual Conference & Expo?
On the QT has a budget to pay $300 for written articles. GWA recently increased remuneration for speakers by boosting the honoraria and providing free attendance to the annual conference and its activities on the day of his or her presentation. Compensation for articles and speakers is reviewed annually by the Board of Directors.
Does GWA advocate for various causes?
As a forum for professional communicators, GWA enjoys a diverse membership with a wide variety of ideas and an extensive mix of media channels. As a result, not all members agree on all topics of interest to such a diverse group.
GWA does advocate for professional education and development as a common interest for creators and intellectual property owners. On gardening issues, GWA provides a forum for professionals with different viewpoints to share facts and interests on topics of varying importance to the gardening industry. Members are encouraged to follow their conscience and align themselves with cause-associated groups as they see fit.
Additionally, GWA’s charter and tax status as a 501(c)(6) determines how, as a non-profit organization, GWA can advocate for public policy. Our status limits support for political candidates and regulates other types of lobbying activities. Funds would have to be solicited from members solely for lobbying and advocacy purposes and could be subject to federal taxes paid by GWA and/or the deductibility of dues by members.
The GWA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) educational organization that can receive tax-deductible donations. These donations support foundation programs, such as Plant A Row for the Hungry. The foundation is legally barred from participating in partisan politics. Some lobbying is allowed, but it must not be the Foundation’s major activity.
Can GWA limit membership?
GWA’s relationship with members is regulated by its charter, bylaws and the federal government, particularly anti-trust laws. Membership qualification is determined by the bylaws. Membership application and approval procedures are determined by the GWA Board of Directors. What GWA offers to members for a fee must be offered to non-members as well. GWA can charge non-members more, but it must offer the same service and benefits. This is why there is always a member and non-member price on all activities and functions.
Why does GWA accept support from corporations?
Acceptance of sponsor support is neither a direct nor indirect endorsement of any company, product or service and only represents the sponsor’s support of a GWA program or event. The primary reason GWA accepts sponsorship support of events is to expand membership benefits while controlling, reducing or eliminating member costs. In order to avoid claims of unfair trade practices, GWA must be open to all comers — members and non-members alike. Eliminating the option for any sponsor would substantially increase all members' costs. The impact on the Annual Conference & Expo, alone, would mean raising the fee by at least $140 per registrant. Industry support for GWA programs is also the major reason the association has been able to expand programs and benefits without an increase in member dues since 2003.
Can GWA offer group health insurance?
No. Only organizations with members in very limited geographic areas can offer group health insurance policies, such as professional writers in New York City. When a non-profit extends beyond state boundaries, antitrust issues have an impact on setting or ‘fixing’ prices for insurers to provide coverage.
The non-profit community has lobbied this issue in the U.S. Congress for 10 years, but the legislation to allow group action by trade organizations, as is done by big business and big government, has never left committee.
Some groups have resorted to promoting health savings accounts, but these are not group medical policies and tend to be very expensive when trying to achieve comprehensive coverage.
Why should I join GWA?
GWA is the only international association dedicated to supporting garden communicators who work in all media. Member surveys indicate that networking with other garden communicators is the primary reason to belong to GWA and attend meetings. Networking can lead to writing or photography assignments, book deals, speaking gigs and much more!
Regional meetings, annual conferences and electronic programs provide professional development in a number of areas such as:
- Honing writing and photography skills
- Improving social networking
- Understanding how to operate a small business
- Marketing yourself as a speaker, consultant or author
- Promoting your books
- Receiving the latest news from the green industry
- Opportunities to try new products and plants
- Access to legal advice for communications issues
- Searchable list of members’ writing interests and speaking skills
- Job referral services
- National awards and recognition for outstanding work
- Members also usually can arrange for media passes to most, if not all home and garden shows, public and private gardens and other venues
Learn more about membership here.