Membership Challenge

Ed: This post originated from the Maine Section Manager, whom has approved this version being released here.

Many of you have already heard of the ARRL board decision to increase membership dues and make changes in the way we receive magazines, such as QST.  If not, I invite you to read ARRL President Rick Roderick’s (K5UR) letter dated July 23, 2023 in an ARRL bulletin. It is available on the ARRL web site.

For the past year or so, our division directors and other League officials have been warning us about the serious financial situation that the ARRL has been in the past few years caused primarily from inflation, especially the rampart cost increases of print media such as QST.  In May, members were asked to take the membership dues survey. About 20% of ARRL membership answered that call and the Board has taken the results of that survey and made the tough choices.

Like many of you, I do not relish the idea of a dues increase, and I especially do not like that the print magazines will no longer be part of the membership benefits (you still get the digital versions of all the magazines free with membership). Now, to receive a printed QST, On The Air, NCJ, or QEX magazine, you have to subscribe separately. I am one of those that still likes to hold onto a paper book or magazine. Do I personally like it? No, I don’t, but I also don’t like spending 4 dollars a gallon for fuel oil or 3 dollars for a head of lettuce either.

But then, I think how much the ARRL, ham radio clubs (most of them ARRL-affiliated) and my fellow amateur radio operators mean to me. It boils down to people, to friendship, and camaraderie.  If not for the ARRL and for all of the clubs and ham radio events, I would miss out on the great friendships I have forged through the past 20 years. It is my relationship with the League, affiliated clubs and all the individuals I have met through them that has made such a positive impact on my life. I love the coffee meets, hamfest gatherings, convention get-togethers, club suppers, and all the ham radio nets where we get to chat, laugh, innovate, maybe even instigate, and otherwise socialize.

There is no doubt in my mind that this amazing hobby and service would not exist as it is today without the ARRL. The League’s advocacy and lobbying is why we have so many amateur radio bands and modes. There are many commercial entities that want some of our spectrum. It is a constant battle that continues today. What chance would we have in keeping our frequency privileges without the ARRL’s effort?  Very little in my opinion.

Instead of seeing these dues increases and other changes at the ARRL as a negative, let’s instead support the League even further. Last year the ARRL lost about a million dollars. This year that figure is expected to more than double. Dues increases alone will not make up for all of that. 

If you can afford it, I challenge you to do one or more of the following:

  1. Become Diamond Club member. The additional financial support will help close the gap and get the League into better financial health.
  2. Donate to one of the ARRL funds, such as Spectrum Defense, Education & Technology, W1AW Endowment, or the General fund.
  3. If you are a Life Member, consider making a monthly or annual donation.

Some may think the ARRL has not been a good steward of our membership money. While any business can benefit from frequent analysis of expenditures and tightening of the belt at times, I do not believe the ARRL is wasting our money. As Western Massachusetts section manager, I have met and continue to meet many League officials in person and on-line and they are doing their best in a difficult inflationary time.

In the past ten or so years ago, prior CEOs tried to close the gap by cutting spending which left many programs underfunded and unsupported which caused an erosion in confidence by the members and a downturn in membership. The League has now invested sums of money to hire new staffing and managers and to restore programs and invent new ones to move the ARRL into the future.

Yes, we do ask for donations. These donations go to programs which use a large sum on money and could wipe out any budget in a second. Another way to donate to the cause is time. Volunteer and participate in field positions, club activities, EMCOMM, mentoring new hams, etc. Your time invested will help secure the future by inspiring interest to the new and prospective hams. Being positive and understanding the real value we have with the ARRL is something we need to embrace.

Ray Lajoie AA1SE
WMA Section Manager

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