More than a generation ago, the APS reached its historic peak in membership. We had just celebrated our first century, and we reached more than 56,000 members. From that peak, our membership slowly declined until today, half of where we were.
For too long, it’s just been our fate. We’ve all heard the dire predictions of the hobby or any number of reasons why young people don’t join or collect. We get all sorts of suggestions about targeting school-aged children, retirement communities, or any number of other ideas. While I wish we had the staff to go door-to-door and recruit new members, we don’t.
We do have nearly 28,000 members spread around the country — members who believe in the APS and the need for a strong philatelic community. Each of us has our reasons for belonging to the APS, and those experiences are great marketing.
Dale Carnegie said, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
So, here is the challenge for all of us: In 2020, we’re going to get 2020 new APS members. It’s ambitious; we got 1,326 new members in 2018 and approximately 1,500 in 2019. We’re building tools to grow our audience, showing them our value in the modern age. But our most excellent resource is and always will be our members.
In January, we announced The 2020 Challenge to offer an incentive to every APS member to recruit. We’re offering three Life Memberships: 1. For an individual member, 2. For one of our member dealers or chapters, and 3. For one of our brand-new members recruited in 2020.
So, what do you have to do? Get a copy of our membership application, available at stamps.org/join. Talk to a stamp collector you know and encourage them to join. If they complete the application and qualify as an APS member, you get an entry into our drawing for a life membership. If you recruit 10 new members, you get 10 entries. One lucky member, dealer, or chapter, and new member will become APS members for life. Complete rules for The 2020 Challenge are available on our website here. Don’t forget, we still offer a $5 reward for each new APS member you propose.
To break the ice, we provide some helpful tips about recruiting new members on the site. We also have some knowledgeable and energetic members. Please share your tips with us on how you pitch the hobby and the APS. Success stories of how you brought in new members. Even tell us if someone pitched the APS to you and got you to join. Through the rest of the year, we’ll be profiling member stories in the journal, in the newsletter, and online at stamps.org.
The strength of the APS has always been the strength of our community. There are many more collectors and potential members out there who can only make us stronger. There are several reasons why people join organizations, but the most obvious reason is that they were asked. Please join us this year to invite as many people as possible to join the APS.
Ditch This Magazine Update
Thanks to all the members who read my October 2019 column and left copies of The American Philatelist in a public place for others. I’ve heard from quite a few people, but I wanted to share one note I received recently from APS member Fred Johnson:
I enjoyed reading your column, “Ditch This Magazine.” I’ve been donating my American Philatelist(s) for years. Our supermarket has a used book & magazines stand near the entrance. Sometimes my AP has already been picked up before we finished shopping!
Like Fred, you don’t have to wait until Stamp Collecting Month to ditch your magazine. Please keep sharing philately and the APS with everyone you can. Please let me know what you’re doing to share or if you have any thoughts for us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at our address in Bellefonte.