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The Financial Health of Our Organizations: The NCBTMB

Were it not for the fact that I have already posted a blog titled Financial Shock and Awe at the NCBTMB, I could certainly have used that for this one. The subject matter is the same: the Form 990 filing of the NCB, except this one is for the latest return, from the fiscal year 2008. The previous posting was about the 2007 form.

Here are the cold hard facts: Revenues were down by over a million dollars, while expenses were up almost that much. The NCB is showing almost $2 million in losses for 2008. Their assets have declined by almost $3 million dollars. To borrow a phrase from another well-known pundit, Cliff Korn, “Can you spell fiduciary malfeasance?”

2008 was the year of the Feeley administration. If you need a rehash of all my real and imaginary issues with her tenure there, just read back through the blog roll. I spent much of 2008 picking on the fact that her compensation as a “volunteer” was $118,000, plus her expenses. Then there was the utter disgrace of holding a board meeting in Hawaii, and topping that off was the $20,000 gift because she supposedly couldn’t afford health insurance. What a resounding slap in the face to all the massage therapists out there who don’t make a fifth of that money and can’t afford any, either. Fiduciary malfeasance isn’t a strong enough term, but I try to avoid cursing on the blog. READ MORE....

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Comment by Emmanuel Bistas on January 9, 2010 at 8:25am
The issues with NCBTMB go beyond lack of fiscal responsibility and a particular ‘administration’. It is a systemic issue that spans several organizational areas and many administrations. The root cause is the ‘monopoly’ status that NCBTMB enjoyed over the years.

For years, state licensing boards have unconditionally supported NCBTMB. The NCB was the brain-child of AMTA, AMTA lobbyists introduced licensing laws and ensured that NCE was part of the process, and many state board members were members of AMTA. AMTA and NCB were officially separate, but NCB had the full support of AMTA, and on a personal level many AMTA members shared a fondness for NCB… how can you not love your own child, your own creation, after all? Each time an issue arose (violation of bylaws? three months to process an application? customer complaints?) everyone looked the other way and thought “oh, it’s just a little problem, it will get better next year”. So the brain-child became a spoiled brat who does not care about anyone but itself. That's how we got where we are now.

Now, we can look at the 990 as an isolated event (we all have bad years) and hope it will get better next year. Or we can see in it the same dynamic we have seen over the years. I cannot help thinking that NCB leadership knew about this in 2009 as they were making announcements for pizza discounts. They knew about it as they were announcing Advanced Certifications. They knew it as they were cutting staff, and they knew it as they were buying full-page ads tooting 'excellence' or suing Oregon and Florida.

I understand that NCB's current leadership will not take responsibility for the 2008 loss, but will they take responsibility for hiding the facts from the public? Why was this just released in 2010?

In an email I sent to someone at NCBTMB few weeks ago I pointed out that the organization, the so-called pillar of our profession, seemed to be held together by rubber bands. Now I can tell why it felt that way. The 990 and Lindamood's comments help explain it. They had to cut the people who do the work. It has gone from four days in processing time for NCE applications, to 3 or 4 weeks. One now has to stay on hold for half hour while the NCB staff locates a “missing” transcript. And the NCE content (based on the 2007 JTA) that was announced last March and last August and which went into effect on 1/1/10 has not made it to the Candidate Handbook yet (applicants are told one thing by the handbook, educators were told differently via email).

My experience is that customer service at NCB is at pre-2007 levels. The mantra "NCB is now different, they listen, the NCB of now is not the NCB of the past" cannot bring enlightenment. Action is needed.

There are several things that could be done to fix the situation, but no real change will be made until every state that regulates massage therapy accept the MBLEx. And until things are normal again and NCE candidates can receive the customer service they deserve, any talk of Advanced Certification should be postponed.

Comment by Mike Hinkle on January 8, 2010 at 1:35pm
I have noticed this as a persistant problem in programs that deal with "Volunteers". All these programs should, by law, have to post their financial statements after each meeting, not yearly in some remote location.

I was shocked when I worked with the Florida AMTA and saw the way volunteers spent Chapter money. It paid to be a volunteer. Then when anyone said anything or even hinted it, they were removed and shunned. I bet there are a lot of things like this happening around all the states. It is a shame because AMTA stands for the highest standards and I hate seeing the money wasted as it is being. AMTA should do away with Chapters and put those same funds into advertising for the profession. The money would achieve so much more.

It seems to make more sense to belong to groups that realize who they are working for. Private held companies seem to make more sense, from the landscape out there, to me. The reason the FSMTB is so successful is they are comprised of states that care and have been very frugal.

I hope you are right about NCBTMB, but people are quitting it, like a rash. It is because they won't do what they were setup to do. And more will quit, if a lawsuit happens against any state again, because the state decides to go with the MBLEx. They will lose my support and other states may decide to take off their, "NCB must" criteria, in their massage laws and regulations as well. They will bankrupt themselves with legal fees.

If they truly wish to rebuild good faith and support, they will re-address any Oregon (and others) related problems and then do what they were designed to do.

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