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The APS Should...

Since I became president of the American Philatelic Society nearly a year-and-a-half ago, I have received over 4700 e-mail messages and a lesser number of letters that came through the mail on a variety of subjects from APS members. Some of the messages are complimentary. Others are critical. Some have contained interesting suggestions or opinions. All are appreciated and, whenever possible, I forward them to the entire APS Board of Directors.

I thought I would start the New Year off with an invitation to all APS members to share your suggestions on what the APS should do in the coming year. There is a good reason for this.

In an earlier column I mentioned that the Board was working its way through the development of a strategic plan, with the assistance of APS member Steve Zwillinger, who has been our planning meetings facilitator. Steve does similar work for the U.S. Department of Education.

In February the APS Board will again meet to continue - and hopefully finalize - the strategic plan for the Society. Lest you think all of these planning sessions are wasted time, let me share the successes we have had since this Board first convened for a planning meeting the week after we first took office in August 2003.

At that meeting, each member of the Board was asked to submit goals for the Society for the two years that we had been elected to serve.

In August 2003 our collective goals for the next two years were recorded as being:
  • Restoring staff positions
  • Phase 2 finished and move-in completed
  • Membership in the National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Greater role for APS in stamp collecting
  • Greater percentage of stamp collectors are members of APS
  • Uplifting stamp collecting as a cultural activity
  • Double the average contribution of members
  • Increase contributions to reference collection
  • Listen to and be an advocate for members
  • Support fund-raising
  • Improve estate advisory service
  • Promote the technology we have
  • Improve APS image
  • Improve work on fakes and forgeries
  • Improve bond with affiliates and chapters
  • Promote publications especially with affiliates
  • Facilitate research
  • Work with the Writers Unit
  • Issue more publicity releases
  • Acquire long-term commercial tenants
  • Build endowment with major fundraising campaign
  • Put finances in order
  • Rebuild membership
  • Establish an alliance with the local historical society
A year-and-a-half later, this is what we have achieved:
  • A few new staff positions have been added
  • Phase 2 completed and move accomplished
  • The APRL has membership in the National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • A major fundraising campaign was implemented
  • The average member contribution has increased from $147.17 in 2003 to $214.23 by the end of October 2004
  • Members have been encouraged to opine on a variety of issues and their letters and e-mails have been distributed to the Board
  • The Board approved a new policy on fakes and forgeries
  • APS Chapters have a regular column in American Philatelist
  • The APS and the Writers Unit are working together to encourage articles in the non-philatelic press
  • Press releases have been redesigned and have been issued with greater frequency
  • Long-term commercial tenants are in place (This is APRL business)
Although our reach has exceeded our grasp and there are still goals left to achieve, it is very clear that setting goals and establishing priorities works. This exercise set us on our path and focused our attention so that tactics to achieve these goals could be developed and implemented.

I am guardedly optimistic that we are approaching completion of a strategic plan for the long-term benefit of the Society. The staff at APS Headquarters in Bellefonte is reviewing a draft strategic plan and will provide input and suggestions. The Board will review these and make any needed amendments or additions. Once we have completed the process, we will publish the strategic plan in these pages.

I want YOU to be a part of the planning process. It is, after all, YOUR Society, so let's hear your suggestions on what you think the APS should do to accomplish these four strategic goals.
  1. Increasing services to members. What service should the APS offer its members that it does not presently provide? Can current services be improved? What can the APS do to enhance your collecting experience? Does the APS do a good job in publicizing all available services?
  2. Increasing membership in the APS. What method should the APS employ to stabilize the decline in membership and begin to grow again?
  3. Developing the American Philatelic Center. What is the best use of the new facility? How can we use the facility to benefit the most members of the Society?
  4. Ensuring the financial security of the Society. How can we best maintain the financial health of the Society?
I have one other question I would like you to address. Do you feel you are provided with sufficient information about the Society's activities, benefits, services, and finances? It is always a bit of a tightrope walk to get it "just right" with the flow of information. Too much, and we turn people away with information overload. Too little, and people believe we are deliberately withholding important data.

Remember, YOU are the best advertisement for the APS. Please recruit at least one new member (use the membership application found on the outer mailer of the American Philatelist or go to http://www.stamps.org/TheAPS/abt_JoinNow.htm). You will earn a cash payment of $5 for each new member you recruit, help grow the APS and the hobby, and do a tremendous favor for the friend you recruit.

Happy New Year to all! I wish each of you great happiness and abundant good health in 2005.

Your comments are always appreciated. Contact me at P.O. Box 250, Pleasant Plain, OH 45162 or by e-mail: tongajan@aol.com.

Janet Klug
January 1, 2005

Published by permission. ©2005 Janet Klug

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