The financial condition of NSA of US in 1995Currently, the agencies of the national administration are understaffed and under funded. Years of Fund deficits and repeated staff reductions have resulted in extreme austerity, with most of the friends at the National Center performing several functions at significant sacrifices to themselves and their families.
You state the "many NSA members serve as full-time paid employees, and some receive substantial perquisites." The reality is that three members of the National Assembly are compensated for their services -- the Secretary-General, the Assistant Secretary and the Secretary for External Affairs. The National Assembly annually reviews their status and establishes their compensation based on need, just as it does with other employees. There are no perquisites included.
The average level of compensation for staff of the National Assembly is $23,400, quite low considering the cost of living in Greater Chicagoland.
Moreover, despite an annual inflation rate in the Chicago area of 4%, the National Center personnel have only received increases totaling 3% over the last 14 years. A more detailed discussion of these and other questions can be found in the materials distributed at the National Convention.
We are saddened that the subject of compensation of the friends who serve the National Spiritual Assembly, at significant financial and professional sacrifice, has become a point of conjecture and contention among some of the believers.
The primary burden of the National Fund is properties, not staff, or the 3% spent on travel and other expenses. Maintenance and repair of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, the permanent schools and institutes, and the Bahá'í National Center costs millions of dollars each year. These funds are almost never available when needed and, therefore, must be borrowed. The accumulation of funds borrowed over time for building repairs accounts for the deficit in the National Fund. What you describe as "extraneous properties" are routinely sold, with the exception of those of negligible value for which buyers are difficult to find.
We hope that this information, and the detailed reports distributed at the National Convention will dispel the concerns held by a few members of the community.
You are in our prayers and in our hearts.
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States
(signed) Robert C. Henderson