Hobby in need of more helping hands

“If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.”

That familiar quote is from America’s beloved funny lady, Lucille Ball.

It’s an adage we know is so true. We have all experienced it. The people we lean on the most are individuals who already have a lot on their plates and have difficulty saying no when it comes to helping others and the causes they are passionate about.

Since joining Canadian Stamp News three years ago, I have been honoured to meet numerous collectors who are making our hobby stronger by volunteering their time as active members of stamp clubs, societies and other important organizations that are feeding the passion of philately in Canada.

However, the common concern I hear is over the future of the hobby. Collectors are aging and collecting stamps is not so appealing for today’s children who are being bombarded with numerous other interests – that we didn’t have in our days – particularly technology and the Internet. A preliminary review of our recent survey answered by many CSN subscribers reveals the average age of today’s philatelist in Canada is in the 70s. This should come as no surprise.

But there is a ray of sunshine coming from individuals in their 40s and 50s who have a little more time and disposable income to return to the hobby. I am one of those individuals and, realistically, it’s a great time to be back in the hobby as the cost to collect stamps is very low compared to the hobby’s heydays.

However, the biggest challenge for the hobby is maintaining the volunteer base that is critically needed by many clubs and societies. While many collectors are retired and, perceivably, may have more time on their hands to volunteer, we also know that’s not necessarily the case for all members.

As a result, it’s usually the same core group of people in every organization that is doing all the necessary work. As we are witnessing more frequently these days, the dedicated volunteers are burning out and are looking to hand the reigns over to new blood.

On the surface, the pool of new volunteers appears to be drying up; or is it?

As featured in this issue, the Postal History Society of Canada is facing extinction if new volunteers don’t rise up to fill leadership roles and contribute to its quarterly – and historically important – PHSC Journal.

“The Journal didn’t come (in the spring) because of a major lack of articles. For many years we have been calling upon our members to participate in their society by sending us articles, and some have, in fact some still regularly do,” says PHSC president Stéphane Cloutier. “There are a whole lot of other members out there in Canada and the United States, and even some in Europe that have never written articles and those are the ones we need help from.”

This leads me back to the opening quote: “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.”  But let’s be honest with ourselves. Canada’s philatelic community cannot continue to rely on the “busy” volunteers to keep alive these important clubs, societies and associations.

As another popular adage goes: “many hands make light work.” Anyone passionate enough about the health of philately in Canada needs to step up to the plate.

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Canadian Stamp News is Canada's premier source of information about stamp collecting and related fields.

Although we cover the entire world of philatelics, the majority of our readers are Canadian, and we concentrate on the unique circumstances surrounding collecting in our native land.

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