This past August, the BSNC Board of Directors tasked staff to commission a preliminary survey to measure shareholder sentiment concerning open enrollment and their understanding of the effects of issuing corporate stock to those born after 1971.¹ The survey is only one step in a process that will have the Board of Directors and management evaluate the effect of the opening the rolls on the financial health of the corporation and to educate the shareholder base on the benefits and costs of opening the rolls.
As a first step the survey tool was developed and the survey was conducted from Nov. 20 to Dec. 1 with a total of 604 individuals being interviewed. The survey was designed by a consulting firm with expertise in developing and conducting surveys and the survey was intended to provide unbiased results.
The questions in the survey helped to:
1) Determine, to the extent possible, the percentage of shareholders who favor opening enrollment;
2) Reveal the level of understanding shareholders have concerning the effects of open enrollment on dividends and the health of the corporation;
3) Provide a baseline estimate for the number of additional shareholders that would be added to the rolls if all lineal descendants of shareholders were enrolled;
4) Evaluate the relative value of specific benefits provided by BSNC to shareholders and shareholder descendants; and
5) Evaluate the usefulness of the various methods of communication and outreach that BSNC now uses for disseminating information to shareholders.
Through the questions concerning the benefits now offered by BSNC to shareholders and descendants, shareholders voiced they value the benefits in the following order:
1. Protection of the Lands/Resources
4. Elders’ Dividends
6. Death Benefits
7. (Don’t know/refused to answer)
8. Campsite Program
Two major findings of the survey indicate that first, there may be as many as 24,000 lineal descendants of the original 6,300 shareholders who may be eligible for shares if open enrollment occurs. Second, that many of the shareholders interviewed did not understand that the increase of enrolled shareholders will dilute the capital available for scholarships, dividends and death benefits.²
In the coming months BSNC will develop shareholder education materials as well as deliver to shareholders a detailed report of the survey results.
¹ With the passage of ANCSA in 1971 and the creation of BSNC in 1972, each person enrolled received 100 shares of BSNC stock. In most cases each BSNC shareholder received 100 shares in their village corporation. Those not enrolled in village corporations received 100 shares of “at-large” stock.
² An increase in the number of shares will require that dividends will be spread among more recipients.