Since last week we have written to the WIA Board following up on commitments made by them at the AGM. In particular, we have asked them to answer a number of outstanding questions, and to provide clarifications to other questions which received inadequate attention.
The President made a commitment to refer questions back to the Treasurer and we will keep asking until that commitment is honoured.
Unsurprisingly, the President made no mention of these matters in his report in the July issue of Amateur Radio Magazine. Refer to last week’s newsletter for the AGM details.
We have asked the board to answer the questions openly and honestly, and then follow-up by publishing a budget and monthly P&L statements. The two new directors indicated that they supported such an approach in the lead-up to the election. There is no reason why the WIA Board should not share the financial status with members.
Three of the last five years have been financial losses – the WIA really is, at best, treading water financially. We’ll say it again, there is $57,000 less cash in the bank at the end of 2015 than at the start. At the halfway mark for the year, it would seem the WIA is on track to make another loss in 2016.
When will the Board stand up, be accountable and actually do something to right the ship?
We are all very well aware of the challenges, and some greater transparency will go some way to ensuring accountability and performance.
Most local radio clubs have far greater financial transparency. All the local clubs we are aware of report to members each month on the finances.
If the board can’t or is unwilling to report on the finances, then how well are the commercial agreements with the ACMA being managed? What impact will this have on the WIA Examination Service?
Now, moving along, as promised, a brief report on the Open Forum from the Conference weekend on Norfolk Island.
As reported last week there were about 55-60 members in attendance. The Open Forum started off well as attendees had availed themselves of the cake and tea following the AGM. There were the formalities associated with recognising the great work done by the many volunteers and contributors, with awards and certificates handed out accordingly. All in all, a good session with some well-deserved recognition for those who put in the hard yards.
Of the 60 or so attendees, I would say about 10-15% made a contribution to the session. This reflected about the same level of participation and interest as the Financial Report. Apathy is the single largest threat to the future of our hobby and WIA.
The Chairman then moved to the more strategic discussions – or lack of them. No strategy was presented to members to address membership decline, affiliated clubs, financial performance, or growth in the hobby, education & training development or marketing.
A number of constructive suggestions were put to the Board by members, including things like: leaving AR Magazine at the Doctors surgery as a way of growing the hobby; introducing a true digital magazine (move into the 21st century, reduce costs, improve member services); advertising on the WIA website to bring in some much needed revenue; introduce a “PDF magazine Only” membership class (reduce printing and postage costs); improve communication with members and clubs; introduce a one year free membership (PDF Magazine only) for new Foundation Licence holders; implementing a simple help-desk system at the National Office to manage the approx. 25,000 queries that it handles each year (keeping in mind about 15% of all queries to the office go unanswered).
Many of the more progressive ideas were received with what appeared to be reluctance by the Board. Rather, we were presented with “reasons” why such ideas would not work. Many of these “reasons” illustrate that the Board does not have a handle on the realities of the internet or 21st century service delivery.
There continues to be a reluctance by our Board to seek out expertise in areas they are lacking, and a propensity to cling to the old ways of doing things; not really very progressive for a hobby with such a rich history of technical development.
The WIA website offers good potential for online advertising. Alas, our President stated that existing AR advertisers don’t have additional budget to cover online advertising. This clearly illustrates a lack of appreciation for the potential of web based marketing.
Remember that the next time your membership fees increase, or our WIA makes another loss. Or we have another year with $0 for club grants…..
It was somewhat disappointing that the bulk of discussion centred around all the possible places that old issues of Amateur Radio Magazine could be left; presumably to attract new members.
Are kids really going to pick up an old AR Magazine whilst waiting for the doctor and then start nagging mum and dad for a radio, or WIA membership? Really? When was the last time you saw kids (or even young adults for that matter) sitting around doing nothing? They are busy surfing the web, checking out Facebook, Twitter or Instagram on their mobile phones. The WIA website is not even mobile compatible. The WIA continues to find reasons not to have a social media presence.
Unless the Board is not telling us something, they appear to have no strategic plan for 2016 or for the upcoming 3-5 years. What vision should we have for our hobby and WIA? This was probably the most disappointing take-away from the Open Forum; our Board has no strategic plan.
Over the coming weeks we’ll continue to ask the Board to listen to what members want, improve the consultation process, and introduce some basic accountability and transparency. We’ll lobby for improved performance from our directors and we’ll continue to provide positive contributions. We’ll continue to remind these men that they are our elected representatives, they are there to protect our hobby.
Word about the WIA Reform Group continues to spread, but we need your help to reach all members.
Our efforts to publish letters in Amateur Radio Magazine continue to be denied. Why are we being censored? We are members – we have a right to air our views in the national magazine. Our views are substantially less controversial than some columns that continue to be published….
Forward this email to your local club and friends. Take a copy when you meet local amateurs for a coffee. If they contact Feedback@wiarg.org we can send them a newsletter direct.
Continue to contact the National Office and Board Members and ask for your questions to be answered. Ask them to publish a budget for 2016 and issue monthly P&L statements. It only takes the push of a button in the MYOB package by the Treasurer. No effort or cost at all. Then we can all be informed.
Email us if you have questions or concerns.
Stay up-to-date with news and progress; – visit www.wiarg.org .
We’ll continue to challenge this Board and demand better results. A strong WIA is critical to protect our hobby. We encourage every radio amateur in Australia to be a member.
Until next week,
G.C. Dunstan VK4DU, C. Chapman VK3QB, R. Dollar VK8RD
Ps. We don’t want to spam you. Send us an email if you’d prefer we remove you from our mailing list.