Which brings us to an important question.
Should QUDA increase the cost of Ultimate in Queensland to employ a Development Officer?
By our rough estimate, funding a part-time QUDA Development Officer would involve something like increasing the typical League fee by $10/season, and the typical tournament fee by $2.50 per day.
The QUDA Executive, being volunteers with limited time, asked that this discussion be focused here on the Brisbane Ultimate Blog, which has the capacity to host lots of comments (including anonymous ones, which of course are read but maybe not given the weight of those by real people), because they don't really want to read and reply to dozens of emails or have people in their face at game time. So please respect their time and stick to discussing the *idea* here (at least for a while!)
So, the QUDA Executive has been thinking about this for a while and has run some figures through the Atari2600 here at the stately Brisbane Ultimate Blog mansion (see below). In the lead-up to QUDA’s Annual General Meeting on 3 March, its worth discussing, at the least to give some views for the 2011-2012 Executive to consider as they go into their 2011-2012 planning.
Development Officers in Other States
Ultimate Frisbee NSW have had a full-time Development Officer for about two years. The position has been very successful, a testament to getting the right person and that person working very hard! The annual cost to UFNSW is about @$46k. As it is roughly understood here at the mansion, UFNSW initially funded this position primarily through its deep savings over many years, generated through its main source of income – running the massive Sydney Northern Suburbs League (500+ players over three seasons annually, for many many years). The Development Officer also ‘makes’ money to support the position, in that coaching services are provided to schools for a fee. UFNSW were also able to gain a small grant that contributed to their capacity to fund the job. (UFNSW of course also makes money from other things (disc sales, interest) and spends money on other things, but this is roughly how they’re able to do it. Check out UFNSW’s finances for 2010-2011 at: http://ufnsw.com.au/admin/documents/20110630_ProfitLoss.pdf
Ultimate Victoria and WAFDA also have development officers. There is a bit of variation between the details of the roles from place to place (and we invite them to comment in), but generally their roles aim to a) generate income to help pay for their positions, either through grants or paid services (such as coaching) and b) grow the long term membership of the Ultimate organisation in their state, primarily by ‘getting Ultimate into schools’ and then getting those people into Ultimate Leagues and Tournaments (including helping them set up their own Leagues and Tournaments).
The QUDA Executive’s desire to investigate and see if we can avoid falling further behind the other states has also been stimulated by a detailed proposal from a prominent local Ultimate player to become QUDA’s Development Officer, who has a long history of growing the sport through schools and other work.
QUDA's Finances and Capacity to Employ
QUDA’s finances are unlike these other states. QUDA does not run major Leagues as all other States do. In Queensland, these are run by BUDA, GCU, JCU, UQ, etc. QUDA does run a few key tournaments - Halibut, Northerns, the Q-Hat, and Nationals when they come to Queensland. But generally these events are run to ‘break even’ rather than to turn a surplus (I don’t use “profit”, as that implies money is taken out of Ultimate. A particular event can make money, but this money is reinvested in Ultimate, including when future events accidentally make a loss).
QUDA has not had to seek income this way because we’ve been fortunate that the Queensland Government provides grants system for State Sporting Organisations.
It is however explicit in this grant that it cannot be used to employ someone. QUDA does at various times pay people casual hobbyist rates or honourariums (eg Coaches, Course Presenters, the Executive Officer, promotional workers) or via gifts to particular volunteers, but it usually tries to do this with money from outside the State Grant. But it is impossible to extend this approach to the proper employment of someone for a few days a week, who needs a contract in place so that they give up other work to take the job on, who will need sick and recreation leave, superannuation, and so forth.
So QUDA would need to generate alternative income if it wished to employ a proper Development Officer over the long term. It is very rare for government grants to pay for staff – this is every sport’s dream but it doesn’t happen, and it isn’t sustainable as the grant may disappear and then what happens.
The AFDA Fee and the QUDA Fee
In the past, QUDA charged an annual membership fee, paid in February and which included a new QUDA disc. While this generated some income for QUDA, it is arguable its primary goal was ensuring that we had a member list to ensure its legal continuity, and keep a steady flow of discs into the community. AFDA used to have an annual fee also, collected at Nationals each year.
As Ultimate in Queensland grew to be more than a single League at one venue, it became impractical to continue trying to collect this annual fee. In 2004 or so, AFDA moved to an event based fee system, which levied a small amount per League or Tournament, collected from the League or Tournament Director and factored into their budgeting for player fees (“the AFDA fee”). The AFDA fee generated enough income to support an Administrative Officer to oversaw the system (amongst many other useful duties). So QUDA saw and took an opportunity to use the same system, introducing a “QUDA fee” that would be collected using the AFDA’s system.
Initially, the QUDA fee was set at a QUDA AGM as 20% of the AFDA fee. At present, the AFDA collects fees from Leagues and Tournaments at a rate of around $1.32 a registered player a week for League fees, and $3.96 a registered player a day for Tournament fees. http://www.afda.com/showcontent.php?page=member_fees
QUDA set its fee at 20% largely to establish the system with a relatively tokenistic amount. There is a sense that QUDA has however been relatively haphazard in collecting QUDA fees, and some events and tournaments in Queensland haven’t been invoiced or chased for payment. Hence one of the primary jobs for a QUDA Development Officer would probably be working with the QUDA Treasurer to get this system working properly.
So, How Would It Add Up?
So, to the figures. By our rough estimates, based on a scan of the AFDA registration system, AFDA would have collected around $21,618 in Queensland in 2011 (not including Nationals).
If QUDA had collected its 20% QUDA fee on this, it would have earned $4,323. This is obviously not enough to employ a Development Officer. But certainly, Step One for QUDA is to start properly and seriously collecting the QUDA fee.
Many events in Queensland do not use the AFDA registration system, and so do not pay AFDA fees (and problematically for QUDA, many of these players are therefore not actually members of QUDA) – this includes Leagues on the Gold Coast, Townsville and UQ (plus Cairns being pretty rough, but then its new and learning). If those Leagues had have been included in the AFDA/QUDA fee system, then our guess is that AFDA fees for Queensland would have gone up to around $28.5k, and QUDA fees to $5.7k. So a second step for QUDA is to continue trying to get those Leagues to become proper members of QUDA (we should acknowledge of course that there is a debate to be had about whether or not a Brisbane-based Development Officer can deliver x% of their attention to regional areas. Our sense is that this is certainly feasible, particularly given QUDA’s long term goal of growing the sport throughout regional Queensland. Also, given these places currently don’t pay anything to AFDA or QUDA, there’s have to be some progressive increase of fees – ie not all at once).
Then to finally get to the point (and I thank you all for reading this far!), there is the option for QUDA to pull the % lever and increase QUDA fees. Here’s our estimates:
Increase the QUDA fee from 20% to 50% of AFDA fee (and collect it all) would generate $10.8k on current takings and $14.2k if the ‘lost leagues’ were gained. This would be a $5.50 increase on a current BPL or BUML fee (assuming 14 player team) (typical and largest leagues in Queensland) and $2.38 on the Halibut fee (typical two day tournament).
Increase the QUDA fee from 20% to 75% of AFDA fee - $16.2k on current Leagues, $21.3 on all Leagues. $10.16 increase on BPL/BUML and $4.36 on Halibut.
Increase to 100% and its $21.6k on current or $28.5k on all, for a $14.78 increase on BPL/BUML and $6.34 on Halibut.
Here's the spreadsheet - click to embiggen. It may not be completely right, but we think its good enough to support this discussion. Please don't point out minor errors to us!
So what’s this all mean?
Well, Assuming you employ someone for half-time and it costs about half of what it costs UFNSW, you need say $24k/annum, with coaching income on top of that to fill out another half to a full day. So the question is: Should QUDA then increase its fees to 75% of the AFDA fee from 1 July 2012 in Brisbane, and say in the regions first start collecting it at 25% and then increase it by 25% each six months until its 75%?
What do you think?
To pre-empt a response from some who may say “So its going to cost more for me to play Ultimate. I play BPL and BUML all year, plus Halibut and the Q-Hat and Northerns, and so it’ll be pouring $65 a year more into QUDA’s coffers. What’s in it for me?”
Aside from a brief “Do you want our sport taken more seriously in the future?” which of course would require a lot of unpacking in terms of benefits and so forth (and requiring Ultimate players to think beyond the next season is a challenge, to be sure), perhaps a simple “Growth = more playing opportunities for you in the future. Growth = more Leagues on different nights in different places, growth means more teams and divisions in existing Leagues and tournament (meaning more competition). Growth = a higher standard at the higher levels (including being more competitive on the national scene).
So, thanks for reading all this. Its a month until the AGM. This isn’t a decision for the AGM – its a decision for the QUDA Executive. But no doubt when they are elected at the AGM, they’d like to go away and start to plan their year of office with an idea of what people would think if they made a decision to increase the QUDA fee and employ a Development Officer.