SPED is a tax-exempt non-profit entity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of United States of America.
From time to time, members ask, “why does SPED charge what it does for courses and dues? What don’t we charge less in poorer countries? What does SPED do with all that money?” These are all good questions and worth an answer.
About half of SPED’s income comes from courses. The remainder is evenly divided between member dues and certification fees. Corporate membership makes up the majority of member dues collected.
The course pricing today barely covers SPED’s direct and overhead costs of each course. Although priced low for 23 hours of video instruction plus notes, it represents a one-of-a-kind boost to a piper’s career. Some have estimated that completion of PPD Level I certification is worth a year’s experience on the job. While part of the cost is Learning Management System hosting, IT support and administrative overhead are the highest expense. Despite the expense, SPED regards the SPED Courses as a service to the piping profession in line with society mission.
The PPD Level advance represents a similar situation. Both courses and certification advance fees support course hosting, IT administration, corporate overhead, course development and PPD Promotion. Pipers give us this money to maintain and raise the perceived value of certification, making our certified pipers more employable. Importantly, its self-support allows SPED to fund our chapter dues reimbursement program, which is unusual among professional societies.
Note that our prices are set to arise again, when the improvements made under the PPD Level II Course are fully implemented. Our courses are still much less than comparable courses in other societies.
All that being said, SPED discounts online courses and advance fees to Corporate members, reflecting the contribution made by their membership dues and larger numbers enrolled. No matter what discount SPED offers, it cannot let the price fall below our costs.
What can chapters do? I’ve long been an advocate of chapters conducting PPD Test Reviews and other professional development. If a chapter could sponsor a PPD Level I review, with a larger number of candidates for certification, a discount could be considered and/or a refund of a portion of the enrollment to the chapter for local activities. This would grow the chapter and increase the employability of the members.
I hope this answers some our members' questions and we thank you for your support of SPED.