APS NEW Membership Drive Faltering

Every philatelist, member or not, wishes the American Philatelic Society well. For over one hundred years the APS has been the cornerstone of organized philately, offering insurance, an excellent magazine, stamp shows and competitions, and the country’s finest library among numerous other benefits of membership. But obtaining and retaining members has been a problem. Forays into real estate and over expansion of the library have led to financial problems which has forced dues increases which has reduced membership which has forced dues increases which has.. you get the point. From a high of over 60,000 members, the APS has just a few more than 36000 today and is coming close to a number at which it will be hard to sustain itself. Though in the internet age membership in the APS is not as necessary to a collector as it was years ago, still, with the demographic trends in our hobby, membership should be higher than it is. In December, the society listed that it got 97 new members which is a rate of about 1200 per year. The society had 36000 members and though the average age of each member is probably not 75 years old, it is close. For 2007 the Center for Disease Control listed a mortality rate of about 6% for 75 year old males so the society is gaining 1200 members per year and losing nearly 2000 from death alone, not to mention the thousands that fail to renew their membership each year. Despite lots of noise about plans to recruit new members, little has been done recently. Ideas such as dealer books of discounts for recruiting new members have languished and there seems to be a malaise as far as getting new members is concerned. This must change. Several years ago I was the treasurer of the APS when the membership levels were about 50,000. We calculated then that a level below 40,000 would necessitate serious cutbacks in member services and we couldn’t envision much of a society being left at levels below 30,000. Its not enough to balance the budget (though the current President deserves much credit for that). Our society must grow.

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