Philatelic barriers to entry

I have a gripe about stamp collecting organizations out there.

First, it is important to know I’m a joiner. I belong to several, including:

  1. American Philatelic Society
  2. Haiti Philatelic Society
  3. Scouts on Stamps Society International
  4. Universal Ship Cancellation Society
barriers to entry
I am convinced if you eliminate the barriers to entry, more people will participate in our great hobby.

I join them primarily for the resources for specialty collecting areas. Plus, with an extensive publishing background, I’m very interested in journals.

But…

There are other societies I’ve tried to join, but it is just too … much.

Recently, I went to join a society that had several steps to join. First, I had to fill out the membership form online and print it out. Then, I had to pay for membership via PayPal and record the transaction ID on my printed membership application. THEN I had to snail mail the membership application to the membership coordinator, and THEN email him and let him know I’d paid via PayPal and mailed my form in.  

In other words, I had to do something other than join.

The thing is that today’s technology makes it fairly easy to allow people to handle their entire transaction and application online.

On Dec. 18, I renewed my APS membership for another year. It was entirely handled on the website; as soon as I paid, I received an email receipt, and my membership information was immediately updated online.

Yes, APS has deeper resources than most philatelic organizations, but they also have a commitment to handling membership promptly and seamlessly.

And then…

For one of the philatelic organizations of which I’m a member, I renewed my dues on December 18. As I write this, more than 20 days later, my renewal has not been acknowledged.

Barriers to entry

It is 2024, and online technology is more accessible and easier to use than ever.  It shouldn’t be that difficult to join a stamp collecting society.

And let’s be honest. There have been discussions about the hobby’s decline (or death). These conversations are numerous and constantly take place. What’s not discussed is how we can make it harder for folks to get involved, and the impact that may have on the hobby.

One thing I know for sure. If you make it difficult to enter the hobby and/or become involved in a philatelic organization, people won’t enter the hobby or become involved.

Don’t make the barrier to entry too high for most folks to scale. And don’t make it so they don’t even want to try.

If I have to fill your form out online, print it, pay via another website, record the transaction ID, mail the form, and email someone, it may be a tad too much.