Originally Posted by ScottMorris
Why do you have to pay to enter a contest?
Fair question, Scott. Since I'm the AGA Treasurer, let me try to answer.
AGA is a non-profit organization whose financial support comes almost entirely from our members and the participants in our activities. Some activities, such as the annual conventions, the journal (The Aquatic Gardener), and the aquascaping contest receive some donated awards or advertisement revenues from a handful of supportive vendors, which helps defray some of the costs of those activities. But the corporate donations and advertisements come nowhere near offsetting the total costs.
Since the contest is open to anyone that wants to participate and not just AGA members, we feel it would not be fair to the members for them to shoulder the burden of the contest costs. So we ask each participant to pay a nominal $5 per entry.
We sell a few different items through the AGA on-line bookstore, but there we focus only on items that are otherwise hard for aquatic gardeners to find or that we think might be of special interest. For those items, the prices are intended, basically, to cover the costs of the bookstore but generally are not intended to subsidize other activities.
Thus, unless corporate sponsorship takes on a higher portion of contest costs, either the participants must pay a small fee or the AGA members must pay higher membership fees to subsidize the contest participants. The money has to come from somewhere. Btw, some AGA members do spend some of their own money to help support the contest and members of the Dallas Ft, Worth Aquatic Plant Club, which inlcudes AGA members, have donated to the contest prizes this year.
We do what we can to minimize the costs of the contests. In hardship cases where someone cannot pay the fee, there are some AGA members that pay the fee for them.
Also worth mentioning, the labor involved in administering the contest administration is entirely gratis, donated on a volunteer basis, mostly from a small number of dedicated aquatic gardeners that are committed to the goals of the AGA, which are these:
To disseminate information about aquatic plants.
To study and improve upon techniques for culturing aquatic and bog plants in aquariums and ponds.
To increase interest in aquatic gardening.
To promote fellowship among its members.
Besides the contest staff, there are the international panel of judges each year spend hundreds of hours reviewing the entries and often agonizing over decisions. All of the judges provide their time and effort gratis.
The AGA appreciates your interest. If you have any other questions, let me know and I'll try to address them.