APA council to consider proposal for new association structure

Seeking practitioners’ input by Feb. 23.

APA is seeking input from practitioners on a proposed new organizational concept and a revised membership agreement that the APA Council of Representatives will consider in March 2018. The purpose of this initiative is to enable APA to expand its advocacy efforts and membership benefits for all members. Details on the proposal are available in the following formats:

Why do APA and the Practice Organization need a new organizational structure?

As a 501 (c) (3) organization APA is dramatically limited in the scope of advocacy work and in what benefits it can provide to members. In 2001, as a partial solution for these challenges, the APA Practice Organization (APAPO) was created as a 501 (c) (6) organization. While the APAPO, as a c6, has much more latitude to advocate for psychologists and provide member benefits, it increasingly lacks the financial strength and capacity to do so.

The APAPO Board of Directors and CEO Arthur C. Evans, PhD, are trying to address these issues to provide greater resources and flexibility to our top-notch government relations teams across the entire APA family to fight for psychologists and psychology in a political climate that is increasingly challenging. To obtain the full range of advocacy and benefits practitioners expect from their membership organization, they currently need to choose membership in both APA and APAPO.

Proposed organizational structure

After much consideration, and input from many levels of APA and APAPO governance, the Council of Representatives will consider a proposal in March to create a new 501(c)(6) organization, tentatively called the American Psychological Association Institute for Psychology. This organization will benefit all members regardless of career path. The goal is to give APA a stronger and more effective voice on Capitol Hill, in state capitals, and in rooms where decisions affecting psychology and psychologists are made.

The APAPO Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (CAPP) supports the APA membership restructuring proposal and believes it will ensure and expand the advocacy and other resources of importance to practitioners. CAPP perceives the new model will increase the ability of the association to create a stable financial future in order to advocate for and support all members of the association.

How can practitioners provide input?

Practitioners are an integral part of the APA community. As an APA member, your feedback is critical in helping to shape APA’s approach to its work on behalf of practitioners. Please share your feedback through an online survey. The comment period for members is open through Feb. 23, 2018.

What’s the difference between a c3 and c6 association?

A 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(6) — or “c(3)” and “c(6)” — refer to the tax status of the APA and the APA Practice Organization respectively. Both organizations’ tax statuses are as nonprofits. However, c(3) organizations are limited in their ability to advocate legislatively or on regulatory matters. Additionally, a c(3) organization cannot have a political action committee (PAC).

APA, a 501(c)(3):

  • Cannot influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities ($1m cap on advocacy activities — IRS penalty for overage).
  • Cannot offer voter guides or legislator scorecards.
  • Cannot establish a PAC.
  • Restricted in offering pocketbook solutions to members.

Organizations with 501(c)(6) tax status, like the APAPO, most state psychological associations and many other health-guild associations (e.g., the American Psychiatric Association) are permitted to engage in advocacy activities while remaining nonprofits. Most c(6) health professional associations have a PAC.

APA Practice Organization, a 501(c)(6):

  • Can promote “psychologists” by advancing the trade of professional psychology.
  • Can engage in unrestricted lobbying, including for reimbursement rates.
  • Can advocate on marketplace, legal and regulatory issues affecting practitioners.
  • Can maintain a PAC.

Currently, APAPO houses a Psychology PAC focused on addressing practitioners’ and educators’ concerns, such as reimbursement for psychological services, inappropriate barriers to psychologists’ scope of practice and funding for psychology education and training. A new association structure would provide an opportunity for Psychology PAC to expand its advocacy to include science and public interest issues.