Financial and Organizational Highlights
Progress in neuroscience depends on responsible investment in opportunities to support the global neuroscience community. By drawing on its financial strength to facilitate connections among scientists of all backgrounds and disciplines, the Society for Neuroscience is ensuring its ability to catalyze scientific progress long into the future.
The Society’s finances remained strong in FY 2018, and the Society continues to deploy its financial strength to strategically invest in programs that support its members as they innovate, collaborate, and advance the field. With a net operating surplus inclusive of investment returns of about $3.5 million at the end of FY 2018, SfN focused new and increased efforts on advocating for the field; creating opportunities for its global membership to advance their careers through accessible, year-round training; and disseminating information and discoveries to scientists and nonscientists through a number of public-facing venues.
SfN’s annual meeting and scientific journals remain the greatest sources of revenue, this year totaling over $22 million, with continuing contributions from membership and from SfN’s investment in its headquarters building in Washington, D.C. SfN continues to deploy revenues and reserves in support of mission focused activities, while maintaining an investment strategy that allowed the Society to end the fiscal year with reserves of approximately $77 million.
As described in its Strategic Plan, and in alignment with its Organizational Values, SfN undertakes many activities in collaboration with external strategic partners, both in the U.S. and across the globe. Key partners include other scientific societies and associations, health advocacy groups, foundations, public agencies, government entities, educational institutions, corporate entities, and information technology service providers. These collaborations take various forms, including direct fundraising by SfN, joint funding of shared priorities, robust information sharing, and co-creation or coordinated execution of selected activities and strategies.
INVESTMENT IN STRATEGIC OPPORTUNITIES
Recognizing the impact of projects undertaken in FY 2017, SfN Council allocated an additional $2.25 million for FY 2018 to the Strategic Opportunities Fund, initiated in 2016 as a part of a plan by SfN Council to direct financial resources to high-impact organizational priorities as they arise. Council identified two new strategic priorities, expanding areas for investment from five to seven areas and actively enhancing the value of SfN membership.
A redesigned SfN.org launched in August 2018, featuring simplified navigation and reimagined content that clearly communicates the Society’s mission and contributions to the field. With greater emphasis on user experience, SfN.org launched with and continues to grow its multimedia content such as video, graphics, and photography, allowing site visitors to learn about SfN and its mission in a variety of ways.
Following the BrainFacts.org relaunch in October 2017, the new 3D brain feature captured the most visitor time. The interactive 3D brain model allows visitors the opportunity to peer deep inside the brain, rotating and isolating parts of the model to get a full picture of different parts of the brain. Continued interaction of this popular feature with site content will enhance visitors’ ability to “explore the universe between our ears.”
SfN is investing in tools that will help the Society to better understand and meet the evolving needs of its membership by leveraging data to recognize trends, enhance business operations, and best serve member needs. This support will help to drive decision-making and program improvements by analyzing member engagement, scientific publications, professional development, marketing and communications, fundraising, and advocacy initiatives.
Increased opportunities for member engagement in grassroots advocacy complement efforts to communicate the importance of robust and predictable funding for neuroscience and biomedical research to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. SfN promotes opportunities for scientists to lead advocacy activities within the research community through advocacy communications including op-eds and statements related to federal funding and support of scientific research on Capitol Hill.
As a part of expanding SfN’s year-round membership value, SfN continues to grow its offerings of accessible and engaging content and networking opportunities for members around the world through digital content and programs. SfN has invested in a regular series of four annual virtual conferences focused on scientific training and professional development topics, and the Neuroscience Training and Professional Development Committees have identified virtual conference topics through FY 2019 and into FY 2020.
THE SUSTAINED VALUE OF GLOBAL COLLABORATION
SfN is thoughtfully investing in relationships with international partners to support strong connections among neuroscientists globally. For example, SfN provided funding to the Canadian Association for Neuroscience (CAN) to grow neuroscience advocacy programs in Canada; came together with other leading international neuroscience organizations to formalize and incorporate the International Brain Bee (IBB) organization; and contributed $100,000 toward the recovery of the neuroscience community in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.
As SfN looks forward to FY 2019 and the third year of its Strategic Opportunities Plan, it will continue to evaluate opportunities to drive scientifically rigorous and innovative programs that support its members and the global neuroscience community.
In FY 2018, several decisions were made to continue to support priorities of the Society, including adding $100,000 of SfN funding to Trainee Professional Development Awards, along with a commitment to match donor contributions up to an additional $100,000; and enhancing training opportunities through the development of a specialized series of online training modules and a series of virtual conferences. With the successful relaunch of BrainFacts.org in the fall of 2017, investment in new interactive content including educational games has remained a priority as the website evolves its content in a sophisticated and competitive online landscape. Further, Council extended the freeze of membership dues and journal publication fees through 2019 and designated a direct member benefit fund to direct resources as the need arises to support or subsidize activities that will decrease the financial impact on members, with a focus on benefiting trainees and members in under resourced countries.
To celebrate SfN’s 50th anniversary in 2019 and 50th annual meeting in 2020, the Society is planning a series of celebrations, reflections, and activities spanning the 2019 and 2020 annual meetings in Chicago and Washington, D.C., with support from SfN Council. Additionally, special 50th anniversary content will be developed and shared across digital platforms including SfN.org.