There has been a lot of discussion in recent years over the future of philatelic clubs, societies and associations. We have seen some clubs fold, others near the brink of extinction due to a lack of volunteers, and then there are clubs that are very active.
A recent survey by Canadian Stamp News certainly suggests there is opportunity for growth.
We asked, “Do you belong to a stamp club in Canada?” Of the 67 per cent of respondents who answered the question, a total of 122 (40 per cent) said yes. The remaining 183 (60 per cent) said no. Wow, what a surprise. Think about it…almost two-thirds of the collectors who responded are not members of a stamp club.
We probed further, of course, by asking “why not” join a stamp club. Of the 183 that said no, 144 shared a variety of enlightening reasons. As for most common reason, it was pretty much a dead-heat between “time commitment” and “no local clubs” and a distant third, “no interest” in joining.
So, what other options do they have?
Perhaps one opportunity would be creating an online Canadian philatelic club. I realize it’s not the same as direct face-to-face interaction with other members, but the growth of general online forums continues to increase year after year. There are websites online that promotes themselves as “virtual clubs,” however, they did not appear to be interactive.
The biggest challenge in creating an online club is developing an interactive website. This had me thinking about how we – Canadian Stamp News – can help. We already have an interactive, updated website, including a community forum, and it would not be difficult to add live video feeds etc. And, of course, we have the vehicles to promote the virtual club.
So, in the interest of growing the hobby, we would be willing to make this a reality but we would need volunteer help such as moderators. If you are interested in helping us build and develop an online Canadian philatelic club, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, another interesting comment that came out of our survey is the fact some respondents are unsure of how to join or find a club. On the homepage of our website – canadianstampnews.com – under the heading “Collecting” (located at the top of the page), click on “Stamp Clubs”. Here, we list clubs by province, when and where they meet, and their contact information. (If your club is not listed, it’s easy – and free – to add it to our website. Just click on “Submit a Club”. Fill out the information, and we will list it.)
As I have written in the past, stamp clubs play a key role in the long-term viability of our clubs. Obviously, based on our survey results, there’s opportunities to grow memberships. Is a virtual club a new way to grow our hobby? Let me know your thoughts.