As I end my term as Treasurer, I am pleased to report that our Association is in sound financial standing. The 2016 budget, adopted by the Board of Directors in Panama last November, projected a net revenue (total revenue minus total expenses) of US $371.8 thousand. We expect to end the year with net revenue of US $2.1 million.
We maintained an 89 percent membership retention rate in 2016, added 184 unique new member organizations and now have 7,097 member organizations around the world. Our primary source of revenue continues to be our Annual Meeting, which consistently accounts for more than 50 percent of our gross revenue. When we prepared the 2016 budget, we assumed that attendance in Orlando would be approximately 5 percent less than the budgeted attendance in San Diego, which had been the largest attendance until now. I am pleased to report that we exceeded that threshold and hosted more than 10,000 trademark professionals in May. As a result of the Membership Dues and Annual Meeting results, primarily, the Association’s gross revenue for 2016 is expected to be approximately US $1.6 million more than budget.
Following a successful year of expanding our international city selections for our larger meetings in 2015, this year we held a conference in Cape Town, our first educational event in Africa; and a conference in Singapore, co-hosted with AIPPI. As of yesterday, “Enforcement: An International Litigation Guide” was added to our suite of legal resources. At the initial launch, more than 44 jurisdications are included. Also during 2016, we introduced the Unreal Campaign to students at a dozen engagement sessions in locations outside the U.S., most recently in Nigeria. Early in the year, we opened our Asia-Pacific Branch Office. In addition, by the end of the year, we will have led delegations to India, Canada, Latin America, China, and other Asian jurisdictions; and we held our September Board Meeting in Beijing, our first Board Meeting in a region other than Europe or the U.S. We continue to convey an important set of messages to our members, prospective members, and government agencies around the globe of our commitment to education, advocacy, and public policy in all regions. Our U.S. based events continued to draw strong interest, as evidenced by the number of attendees at the Brands & Sports Conference in March in New York, the TMAP Meeting in Washington, D.C., in October, and at this Leadership Meeting, where we hosted more than 1,400 volunteers.
Our Association’s staff continued to demonstrate their ability to manage operating expenses during 2016. The forecasted variance of total expenses vs. budget is less than 1 percent. The noteworthy year-over-year increase in expenses were in the areas of professional fees, where we have expanded our committee-driven impact studies; and meeting services, which is directly correlated to the events we are providing.
As of September 30, the Reserve Fund balance was US $20.6 million, US $1.6 million more than when we met at this meeting one year ago. During 2016, the Finance Committee has been diligently monitoring and reviewing performance with our new investment advisors at JPMorgan. There is an expectation that the overall portfolio will continue to move with the relevant market indices and marginally gain value in the near term.
2016 marks the third year of the 2014–2017 Strategic Plan. In implementing that strategic plan, the CEO and his management team developed a detailed roadmap to grow membership, enhance educational offerings through educational events and online resources, further extend public policy and advocacy around the globe, and develop staff core competencies, all to solidify our Association’s sustainability. The team is well on its way to accomplish this implementation.
The 2017 budget will be presented to the Board of Directors today as well. Membership retention is budgeted to be comparable to this year, and Membership Revenue is budgeted to increase 3 percent. For conservative budgeting purposes, we are projecting Annual Meeting attendance in Barcelona will be comparable to the budgeted attendance this year. In addition to the unique programming that will be provided in May, we have an ambitious offering of meetings and other programs scheduled around the globe throughout 2017, including programs in Hong Kong, Cartegena, Colombia, and Berlin. Revenue from our other meetings, conferences, and programs next year is expected to generate US $2.6 million, an increase of 15.4 percent.
We have plans to expand our legal resources, and public policy and advocacy. INTA’s representative offices in Europe, China and Asia Pacific continue their advocacy, membership development, and communications. We will be opening our Latin American Office in Santiago, Chile at the end of the first quarter. Our Washington, D.C., office will continue to enhance our presence and effectiveness in Washington, with the support of two staff members supplemented by expert lobbying and consulting support. We continue to be well served by our consultants in Geneva and Delhi. Underlying all of these activities is the dedication to grow our membership base globally, and consistently enhance our member benefits.
2017 will be an important year for INTA as we execute the final year of the Association’s implementation plan developed to support the 2014–2017 Strategic Plan and introduce the 2018–2021 Strategic Plan. As Treasurer, it has been an honor to work with the officers, committee members, the general membership, the staff—especially the staff—and the Chief Executive Officer, and I am confident in the continuing progress of our Association.
Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.
© 2016 International Trademark Association