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Place to discuss "ARRL dues" issues

May 28th 2023, 12:48


Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0

I'm not sure if this topic suits this forum but I'm not aware of a better place for it and the ARRL forum sees little traffic, so here goes.

As ARRL member, I have seen the various articles on dues as well as the survey. A survey is always problematic because it always biases the answers by the questions being asked.

So far, the dues discussion publication has been two-fold: one bit on adjusting annual dues for raised costs, and the second bit, less articulated at this point yet, on reflecting the lifetime members (of which I am one). And it's the second bit I am confused about.

An ARRL lifetime member pays 25 times the annual subscription and is then member "for life". Seems to be a good arrangement for me (which is why I took it, and frankly, took it when the dollar exchange rate was favorable), and a good arrangement for ARRL as members don't just cancel their membership, which is an issue with annual renewal schemes.

I am not a financial expert, but some friends have more business background and say that the scheme is good for ARRL. For the dues paid, ARRL would need to make 4% income (interest) and then the membership indeed is "free". While interest in today's economy is less than it was a decade ago (I do remember interest rates of more than 10%!), with the certainty that the original dues never need to be paid back (and fall to ARRL on my passing), I think I can see that this can work. It is also cheaper for ARRL, because there is no admin work on sending renewal notices, collecting the money, processing it etc.

In addition to "the 4%", income needs to be generated to compensate for higher costs, price indexing. It is clear that a 1960 lifetime membership, based on the 1960 subscription fee, doesn't generate enough income today if one only considers the 4%. At the same time, a house, in 1960, was much cheaper than it was now and I can't but hope that ARRL has done the correct thing here and the 1960 lifetime subscription still generates enough income today.

And, again, keep in mind that, assuming ARRL is doing the 4% thing correctly, keep in mind that the original lump sum of the subscription falls to ARRL on my passing.

In the discussion I've seen so far, I have not seen anything on how well ARRL is doing in this regard. I have not seen any publication on the matter. And that makes "reflecting on how we do lifetime memberships" a difficult subject for me.

And there is more. I am (and have been for decades) a member for the printed, paid version of QEX magazine. "International" doesn't make this cheap either but one does what one can make do so I pay annual fees for the printed QEX magazine.
Fairly recently, QEX (and the other additional magazines, line NCJ and OTA) have been made "free download" if you are an ARRL member. There is no life memberships on these magazines, I do pay an annual due (which is not cheap, again, DX subscriptions are more expensive).
Publishing a magazine, be it QEX, NCJ, OTA), incurs cost. There is the cost of the editorial process (creating, editing articles, making a magazine), the salary cost of the editor, graphics artists, equipment. On top of that there is the cost of the printing process and of course the postal cost. By making these magazines "free online", there is no more income for the editorial process, what remains is printing and postage and the costs for those go up as the printed/posted volumes go down. In that regard, I'm not sure I understand the steps of making these magazines available online for free, which reduces paid membership ("I'll cancel my subscription and just read online") and kills editorial cost income.

One DOES increase "circulation" which may affect advertisement incomes but again, I don't have a clue what the net effect is: lower editorial income from subscriptions or higher income from advertisements).

A third issue is on "facilities". An ARRL subscription, for domestic members, not only gives the magazine, but also "services". ARRL has a division structure based on geography, an election mechanism to select representation, but for us "DX" there isn't anything, and me mailing any of the "division representatives" never resulted in a response from them, let alone them "representing me". So, the "services thing" applies less so for "us DX members".
There are other facilities like the ARRL offices ("visit ARRL") and the facilities for extra recognition, the "diamond club" and the "terrace". I think these might do well (and I hope they do, and I'm not complaining them!) but for me, "DX", there is less value in them. I can't see myself do a transatlantic travel to go visit them.
And before people think I'm boo-ing these (I really am not!) I should mention that ARRL staff contacts have been excellent for those cases where contacts made sense. I just don't see much benefit for these additional facilties for "DX" members like myself.

This posting has possibility of creating an ARRL firestorm, a flamefest, ARRL bashing etc. I am really hoping my posting won't start that. I am looking, however, for more insights on the questions from David and some reflections with other ARRL members on the issues we now learn are popping up. So I hope we can keep this civilized, insightful and informational and hopefully get some guidance on the questions David is asking us.


Geert Jan PE1HZG

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