Created 20 years ago as the research arm of the Society of Incentive and Travel Executives, the SITE Foundation announced May 26 that it was breaking away from SITE and relaunching as an independent research foundation. The move sparked a wounded response from SITE, first in a May 29 e-mail blast to members in which president Lex Granaada expressed dismay at the foundation board's “unilateral decision,” and later in a June 2 press release suggesting that the foundation board acted illegally by not first getting approval for the split from SITE's board of directors.

Ira Almeas, CITE, president of the former SITE Foundation — now the Incentive Research Foundation — said the move was sparked by differing visions of what the foundation's role should be. According to Almeas, SITE wanted the foundation to take on responsibility for managing SITE's capital campaign. The foundation board, however, felt that “was not in the best interest of the foundation,” he said.

Almeas, who is also president of Impact Incentives and Meetings Inc., East Hanover, N.J., said the foundation has always functioned independently from SITE. “We have our own board; we draft our own research proposals; we're self-funding.” A “positive twist” to the events, said Almeas, will be the foundation's ability to move ahead without an association affiliation. “We may be perceived better in the corporate world as a research organization that is not self-serving,” he said.

In an e-mail blast to members, Granaada, managing partner at Granaada & Partner, an incentive marketing firm in Nieuw Vennep, The Netherlands, said the split occurred despite SITE's “best efforts” to maintain the relationship. “Frankly, SITE is disappointed,” added Brenda Anderson, SITE's CEO. “We were sad to hear that after 20 years of affiliation, they [the SITE Foundation board of trustees] voted to sever their relationship with us.”

Granaada's e-mail to members stated that SITE would create a new research foundation that would have responsibilities beyond research, including fundraising and education. The later press release was less specific, stating that SITE “will explore new opportunities to provide practical, multi-national research, education, and funding for programs that benefit SITE membership, and the travel and incentive industry at-large.”

The foundation plans to continue its annual U.S. — based fundraising golf invitational and add a second. A European golf invitational will be inaugurated October 19-21 in Costa Blanca, Spain, raising money specifically for European-based incentive research.