Below is the statement that will appear in the May issue of Chess Life, subject to editing. As you may or may not know, there is no time to collect feedback following publication of the statements before the next statement is due. Indeed, the first statement will be published about two weeks before the third and last statement is due to Chess Life. That said, your feedback is appreciated, and that's why I've posted the statement below well before its publication date in Chess Life. I have about 30 days before the next statement is due, and I'd like to be responsive. So please drop a comment below, or post to the USCF Issues Forum if you have comments or questions.
One of the critical challenges facing the USCF over the next several years is that of getting the organization onto fiscally stable ground. We’re presently financially strapped for various reasons, but the principal reason is that we’ve spent an enormous amount of money on lawsuits, and we still have substantial unpaid legal bills.
First and foremost, we need to play chess, and that means creating an environment in which our current members want to continue to play the game, and in which former and prospective members want to join to participate. Put simply, we need to pull together in the same direction and work toward growing the game. Revenues will grow along with the game. Some of our members will only play the game, and that’s fine. Others will do more. We need state organizations, clubs, delegates, and members to promote the game in all ways. The USCF must do its part by being responsive to the membership and providing what it wants. I envision our flagship events remaining to be classical over-the-board chess, but it doesn’t have to end there. We need to consider exploring and promoting chess in all its variants, including thinking creatively, and ensuring that we’re taking advantage of every resource, including the internet.
Second, national leadership must operate the Federation responsibly on all money matters. I think the current EB is making good strides in this direction. The budget must be realistic, and the Executive Director and Executive Board must ensure that we’re operating within that budget. Not only can we not exceed the budget, but we have to plan for some level of surplus. We need to be prepared for the next rainy day. It is unacceptable for the Federation to continue to face short term economic crises on a routine basis. Without any surplus, every unexpected non-budgeted event becomes an emergency. We should establish a goal for some amount of surplus to be accumulated for each year over the next five to ten years. The goal of attaining a surplus needs to become a budget item, given all the same attention as every other budget item.
Third, one of our goals should be to explore how to provide our members and potential benefactors with an easy route to charitable giving. We should give careful consideration to our status under the Internal Revenue Code. The game of chess has tremendous potential. We see some of that potential being realized in Super GM events, primarily in Europe, and even in some ways throughout this country. Scholastic Chess, for example, has had some extraordinary achievements. In short, the game has a quality about it that makes it a natural target for philanthropy. We have to ensure that our potential donors can give to the Federation with full economic advantage, and that once we receive those gifts, donors know their money will be watched over carefully and spent wisely.