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The Virtual Stamp Club is pleased to begin a monthly series of columns by Janet Klug, president of the American Philatelic Society, the largest stamp collecting organization in the U.S.

Building Bridges

When you read this it will be nearly one year since the APS Board of Directors took office. This means that we have reached the halfway point in the term of office you elected us to serve, and it is a good point to review what we have accomplished and what still needs to be done.

The week after we took office, the Board gathered for the dedication of Phase 1 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. We used that opportunity to conduct a planning session where we outlined our goals and set priorities. To recap, they are:
  1. Put APS finances in order and balance the budget.
  2. Establish a successful fundraising campaign to enable completion of the American Philatelic Center.
  3. Establish a program to recruit and retain new members for the APS.
  4. Improve APS public relations.
  5. Improve the following APS services:
    • Estate advisory service
    • Identification and publicizing fakes and forgeries
    • Adding to the reference collection
    • Becoming an advocate for members and staff
So how are we doing with all of this?

In November we launched a capital campaign with a goal of raising $10 million in ten years, 60% of which was earmarked for the American Philatelic Center and 40% to endow APS projects.

It was a daunting and maybe kind of brash plan. The APS has never tried to raise $10 million before, but members have risen to that challenge and we believe we are on target to reach our goal of $1 million in the first year of the campaign, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of our members.

It will take a very concerted effort to continue this success throughout the duration of the campaign, but when you think about it, the amount needed per member is only $215 to achieve our entire $10 million goal. It is a realistic goal.

Several measures have been taken to improve APS public relations. We are giving greater visibility to our 630+ APS chapters through a regular column written by the Chairman of the Chapter Activities Committee, Tom Fortunato. Chapters also receive a quarterly newsletter full of helpful tips, advice, and information to assist local clubs. The issues are also available on our website at http://www.stamps.org/CAC/index.htm.

Last August I approached the APS Writers Unit and asked for their help to encourage philatelic writers to write articles about stamps and stamp collecting for publication in non-philatelic magazines and newsletters. The Writers Unit took up the challenge and I am pleased to say several articles have been published, exposing our hobby to a wider audience. My thanks to Peter Martin, Joe Foley, and George Griffenhagen of the APS Writers Unit for their help.

I am in the process of forming a new committee of APS Ambassadors to do outreach discussions, displays, and town meetings at clubs, shows, and community events throughout the country. This is slow going, but once established it will give a lot more visibility to the APS and create a better connection between our headquarters and widely-scattered membership.

We have routinely sought the opinion of APS members through this column. As a result, hundreds of members have shared their ideas and opinions that helped us formulate resolutions regarding the so-called “illegal” stamps, and fakes and forgeries.

The Society’s financial picture still needs fine-tuning. We closed 2003 with a balanced budget and a small operating surplus, but also a deficit budget in place for 2004. As I write this in mid-June, the preliminary budget package for 2005 is being distributed to the Finance Committee for review and recommendations before it is presented to the APS Board at our meeting in August. There is a projected deficit for 2005, due in large part to reduced income from investments and memberships and increased personnel costs. We will undoubtedly be wrestling with budgetary issues throughout the remainder of our term.

I am disappointed to report that we are still looking for a membership recruiting promotion to assuage the continuing slow decline. In November 2003, some of the senior staff and I met with an advertising agency to discuss membership promotion. This generated a lot of good ideas, but none that we believed would have the long-term success rate we seek.

In the meantime, we continue to promote the APS in the way we know works best: one on one recruiting. YOU are our best advertising campaign! Tell others why you are a member, and give them one of our Business Reply Cards or use the application in this issue of American Philatelist. If your prospect joins, you receive a $5 cash reward!

Of course, the most important achievement for the Society in the past 12 months has been the completion of the American Philatelic Center and the move of our headquarters to Bellefonte. As I write this in mid-June, the Board will soon be gathering in Bellefonte for the Grand Opening and Dedication of the American Philatelic Center. We are again using this opportunity for another strategic planning session. I will report more about it at a later date.

At the halfway mark of our term there are goals remaining for us to achieve, but I am pleased at what has been accomplished. I am especially proud of our Board of Directors, who have worked together harmoniously for the benefit of the Society.

We will continue to seek your opinions on the issues that concern all of us and hope you will continue to share your views.

Are we going in the right direction and doing the right things? Let us hear from you! Contact me at P.O. Box 250, Pleasant Plain, OH 45162 or by e-mail : tongajan@aol.com.

Janet Klug
August 2004

Published by permission. ©2004 Janet Klug

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