Our association has been enjoying huge surpluses at the end of the year (around 10 - 15% per year, for the last four years). Yet, our board/executive committee refuses to "reinvest" in either new programs, new staff, or significant financial rewards (bonuses/raises) for our current staff. They continue to have bigger and bigger parties for themselves and their families, all on the Association’s dollar, and have given themselves a significant increase in the cost of social functions related to board meetings. Is there any redress for this, as the executive director of the organization?
Since you say you are executive director of an “association,” I assume that you have members who are paying the dues that sustain the organization and patronize the programs. When you ask the question: whose organization is it?, the answer is that it is the members’ — if they care.
You can ask for more support for staff, or for new programs, and show them the benefits for the members — and for themselves if they get more members and more dues. You may be able to share in the largess in some way. If you have directors who are not enthusiastic about the shift toward parties or are not benefiting from the increase, you may be able to get some help from them. But you probably don’t have a lot of leverage if the members aren’t upset.
With many membership organizations, the members don’t really care about governance and are happy to go along with the board if they think they are getting reasonable value for their dues and are not being squeezed on their own finances because of a recession or other major economic dislocation. If there are a lot of members, an increased party allowance probably won’t significantly affect their dues. Most of them won’t know what additional programs could be developed with the annual surplus. It is not likely to be a big political issue for most of them, and if the board controls the nominating process, they are likely to nominate new directors who go along with the fun. Keep up the good fight with whoever you can find as an ally, but I wouldn’t expect a lot of success without significant member support.