By Jesse Robitaille
Echoing issues from past years, membership and finances were among the main topics of discussion at the first virtual annual general meeting (AGM) hosted by the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC) this December.
A welcome sign to officials worried about a dwindling membership base, the RPSC gained 85 members last year, jumping from 1,460 in 2019 to 1,545 in 2020. More than 90 of those members attended the recent AGM, held via Zoom on Dec. 9.
“It’s wonderful to scroll through the gallery and see everyone,” said RPSC President Ed Kroft, who also spoke about the “devastating” impact COVID-19 has had on the philatelic community and country at large.
Despite last year’s membership gains, the RPSC has lost a net average of 45 members a year through the past decade. The decrease in membership and its financial impact were also top of mind at the society’s recent board meetings, eight of which were held in the 18 months between June 2019 and December 2020. To keep membership numbers moving in the right direction, RPSC officials have focused on upholding member services through the pandemic.
“We talk about a lot of different issues that have come up that focus on both organizational issues – process issues – and benefits for members,” said RPSC President Ed Kroft.
Amid the pandemic, the RPSC has continued publishing its bimonthly journal, The Canadian Philatelist (TCP), while offering services such as an insurance program, sales circuit, estate planning and multi-media slideshows.
The board has also worked to fulfill its 2018 vision statement by “finding different ways members can get benefits,” Kroft said. These initiatives include partnering with philatelic groups in Canada and abroad, including in the United States, where the American Philatelic Society will publish a joint issue of its journal, The American Philatelist, with TCP in 2021.
Exploring hockey through stamps, postal history, postcards and postal ephemera, the joint issues are slated for the May-June 2021 issue of TCP and the May 2021 issue of The American Philatelist.
RPSC FINANCES & CHARITABLE STATUS
As a non-profit society, the RPSC “survives … on a grant from the federal government” plus member dues and “other patronage,” most of which is done on a volunteer basis,” Kroft said.
“The pandemic has necessitated discussions about the finances of the RPSC,” he added. “Overall, the RPSC is not a cash-rich organization. All the board members, they work for free – and they do all of this stuff out of the goodness of their heart and the love of the hobby.”