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Proposals made by members of The Virtual Stamp Club to improve services for existing members and to recruit new members for the American Philatelic Society


The following is a list of positive proposals and ideas for the APS made by members and correspondents of The Virtual Stamp Club to help improve recruitment of new members and provide enhanced services and benefits for existing members. The list is a compilation of proposals made in recent VSC discussions. It does not necessarily represent the views of The VSC, its staff or members..


Many contributors have argued that we should take the following three points into account as a preface to examining the concrete proposals:

(i)                  The APS has a very highly educated membership and many play or continue to have leading roles in their professions. Very few organizations have such a strong built-in advantage in their membership ranks and it is important that these diverse talents be mobilized and used;

(ii)                The decline in APS membership is a phenomenon experienced by many similar organizations. There are philatelic related organizations and other organizations dedicated to specific hobbies which have managed to escape such declines. There could well be something to be learned from the experiences and practices of these organizations;

(iii)         The listed ideas and proposals are not a program. They are suggestions from which a program could evolve.


I.        Suggestions for improving services to retain members and relying on members as agents to publicize the APS and the APRL

·                    Find ways to encourage all current members to feel that they have an active role to play in the APS;

·                    Provide benefits for those who are members and publicize these benefits through journals and web sites;

·                     Provide mementos of appreciation/gratitude to members who have and continue to be significant donors to the APS, including, for example, sales division gifts, suitable award recognition or such rewards as free membership;

·                     Provide reduced fees for membership or free membership for those who overpay membership significantly;

·                     Reduce membership fees for those paying for several years in advance;

·                     Reserve rooms in the APC and at APS sponsored show sites for member meetings or APS hospitality events;

·                     An important task is to complete the American Philatelic Centre and, as importantly, move the American Philatelic Research Library into its permanent home. Beyond these fundamental steps, proposals include:

o        Convert the APRL’s publication resources to digital format and sell off material as appropriate;

o        Continue the efforts to share resources and assets with libraries in the USA and abroad;

o        Make older material for research available over the internet

·                     Continue and modernize the longstanding and successful APS outreach programs. These include the recently adopted local show seminars and workshops for all levels of philatelists. In addition to their staging at the APC, these should be presented at regional centres and/or over the web. New methods for delivery of the seminars and workshops should always be entertained by the instructors and the APS.

·                     Focus on accelerating connections similar to the former relation with eBay.

·                     Revise and update the APS web site for the dissemination of information and the marketing of APS and other philatelic products. One immediately novel suggestion is that of designing the APS Internet sales unit in such a way as to accommodate want lists by APS members.

·                     Offer computing courses possibly in combination with libraries and educational institutions

·                     In terms of the American Philatelist and APS publications:

o        Provide space (preferably at the front) for members to discuss ideas about the APS;

o        Stop charging for in-house advertisements, recognizing that the benefits of membership (by many) should not be limited to receipt of a monthly publication;

o        Offer advertising space to organizations that reciprocate the offer;

o        Make the AP available on line and offer it as an alternative option (to members only) to the hard copy

·                     With regard to the APS’ expertising services and sales division:

o        Put the reference library on line, with no fees to members, while charging non-members

o        Arrange special space for the sales division at shows

o        Have more affordable material available on the stamp store site

o        Have circuit books at stamp shows and “third Sunday” bourses

o        Offer expertising seminars to local clubs

·                     Produce a newsletter for local organizations and affiliates

·                     Allow others organizations to use APC facilities

·                     Run direct auctions of donated material for benefit of APS and members rather than via 3rd party dealers catering to non-members

·                     Promote networks of volunteers at APS headquarters and those living and working outside the Bellefonte area to:

o        Consider retirement to Centre County and volunteering at the APC;

o        Using the expertize of members for such work as networking, research, web-site developments surveys, focus groups etc. that can temporarily be performed at the APC;

o        Use the erudite membership as the APS’ contacts with the public so that the work they do will help bring back lapsed members and recruit new members

·                     Insofar as the use of space at the APC:

o        Provide catering facilities such as restaurant or pubs, consulting members with expertize in this field

o        Develop hotel/hotel facilities for at least ten guests again consulting members who are expertize in this field

·                     As a cost saving step, participate in a few major shows, and drop participation in many of the smaller WSP Shows.

·                     Change the membership dues structure from a flat rate to a three-tiered rate of Patron/Sustaining/Supporting with differences in the benefits provided members.

·                     Make a concerted effort to attract younger members by employing younger people to direct activities.

·                     Introduce electronic voting for the APS general elections.


II. Attracting lapsed members back into the fold:


If some of the suggestions advanced in I. above involving the provision of services are developed, those services could be broadcast to former members through a coherent “renew membership” campaign using volunteers and affiliate organizations. Such a campaign should be organized by the APS (either with current staff or, alternatively, part time volunteers), which: (1) makes rejoining the organization easier; (2) allows the renewing member to retain his/her previous membership number, and (3) encourages the initiative of organizers to develop new methods for renewal recruitment.


III. Ideas about recruiting new members (from existing and new constituencies)


First, it is recognized that if some of the ideas in I. above are adopted membership in the APS could prove considerably more attractive to the large number of stamp collectors and philatelists that are not currently members.


Secondly, studies of successful organizations similar to the APS or cognate to the APS that have expanded in the modern age of multiple activities and Internet availability would be useful in developing new approaches and ideas.


·                     Speed up the process of joining the APS

·                     Allow non-members provisional access to circuits and closed parts of the APS web page.

·                     At a later stage secure funding from large organizations that can be utilized for specific programs and activities that relate to the donor organization

·                     Several new areas can be opened up including:

o        Promoting new educational activities in schools

o        Designing and making available curricula and training in art history,

o        Bring philately into the curriculum of primary and secondary schools through history, art, and English as recommended by foundations and educational institutions

o        Develop networking contacts with education institutions and local education authorities for the promotion of the hobby of stamp collecting as a means of strengthening the educational achievement of students.

o        Offer to help develop and participate in courses in stamp design and technology to schools and art colleges

o        Offer courses on line in these and other areas;

·                     Link up with local libraries for exhibits, computer courses etc.

·                     Link with local tourist boards and Chambers of Commerce to exploit/publicize philatelic linkages in communities.

·                     As they comprise the hobby’s immediate future, concentrate on those aged 30-40 by finding ways of catering to their needs in light of the demands placed on them as a result of their aspiring careers and family circumstances.

·                     Provide seminars/workshops for different levels as a means of attracting members

·                     Pursue development, as a high priority, of an on-line catalogue system in conjunction with national and international organizations

·                     Reserve meeting rooms for members at stamp shows.


IV. Organizational implications:


It would be helpful if directors of the APS would assume specific work areas to supervise, manage and/or operate and hence provide a single point of contact for such a work area to staff and the membership at large.


The APS Board should consider visiting local organizations and shows.


Sharing progress in these matters with the membership at general meetings, e-mails and in news releases and encouraging them to participate in finding solutions to problems.

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