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Adding value for members
2002, Q4 (July 05, 2007)
By Bonnie Graham, Region 8 Director-Sponsor with some edits and additions by Chris Benz, Region 2 Director-Sponsor

By now, you have probably noticed that the STC web site (http://www.stc.org) has a members-only section. STC has moved certain site content behind a secure login based on your membership number and a password assigned by the main STC office. (If you have not noticed these changes yet, I encourage you to do so — the site contains a lot of useful information, no matter what your involvement with STC.)

In January 2001, the STC Board of Directors voted to change Society policy to allow chapters to restrict certain information to members only. The Board evaluated the variety of information available on chapter sites, and decided that some of that information could legitimately be placed behind a login. After further discussion, the Board decided to extend that change in policy to the main STC web site as well. Primarily, the items now restricted to STC members are the Society-level job listings and the membership directory.

Why restrict any information on the site? The simple answer is that if STC provides all services for free, then there's no real reason to join STC. Without members, STC cannot provide any services, including those intended to benefit the general public. Also, by moving the membership directory behind a secure login, STC helps protect your privacy from non-members.

Why not restrict all information on the site? Part of the answer lies in recruiting. If potential members can?t learn anything about STC, it reduces the chance that they will join. Another part of the answer lies in our STC's status as a 501(c) (3) charitable organization, as defined by the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 501(c) (3) This status provides several benefits, including U.S. members' ability to claim STC dues as a charitable donation.

In the October 2001 issue of Tieline — STC's publication for Society leaders — Executive Director Bill Stolgitis provided the following background and insight regarding STC's 501(c)(3) status and restricting services to members:
  • Background: Since 1968, when STC was reorganized as a 501(c)(3) charity, STC has devoted the substantial part of its efforts to activities within the scope of its charitable purposes. These activities (for example, publications, conferences, research, scholarships) can be found in STC's Articles of Incorporation and its Bylaws.

    In keeping with its charitable status, STC has made these services available to members and non-members alike. The IRS, however, recognizes that while conducting the daily business of a charity, there will be some activities essential to the charity's well-being that are not, strictly speaking, charitable in nature. The IRS allows these activities so long as they do not constitute a substantial part of the organization's activities. For STC, such activities have included selling advertising (magazine and journal), renting the mailing list, and providing employment information (clearly not within the scope of STC's charitable purposes). These activities have always constituted an insubstantial part of STC's total activities.

  • Restricting services to members only: STC is fully engaged in many activities that are within the scope of its charitable purposes. And these services must be made available to members and non-members alike. As mentioned above, STC is also allowed to engage in activities that are not within the scope of its charitable purposes so long as these activities are "insubstantial" (a minor financial burden). These non-charitable services may be restricted to members only.

Thus, STC has rearranged the site at http://www.stc.org to better expose the value of being an STC member. Each STC chapter may also choose to limit access to various services it provides, as long as doing so does not create an undue burden on the chapter's finances. However, actions that contribute directly to STC's charitable purpose (such as seminars or chapter meetings) may not be restricted to members only, although members may be given preferential pricing. If you have any questions on this policy or the site at www.stc.org, please contact your Director-Sponsor or the Society office.

See you online! End of article.

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