[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next] - [Date Index][Thread Index][Author Index]

Communications



Folks:

During the past several weeks there have a variety of e-mails sent to 
amsat-bb regarding a number of issues, such as finances, Eagle Support, 
and comments that the BOD members are not 'responding' to queries 
posted on amsat-bb.  As a senior officer and BOD member of AMSAT-NA, 
I'd like to make some observations and suggestions on these matters.

The question of 'communication' has been raised on amsat-bb several 
times.  In many instances, the originator posts a question and then 
expects an AMSAT officer or BOD member to respond via amsat-bb to 
whatever is posted.  When a response isn't forthcoming, the originator 
then claims that the AMSAT senior leadership team is either 'hiding 
something' or frustration is expressed about 'lack of communication.'

The amsat-bb is a very effective tool for exchanging ideas, passing 
information, and expressing opinions.  It is a very ***ineffective*** 
tool for gaining information from a specific group of people (e.g. the 
senior leadership team or BOD) for several reasons:
-Not everyone reads amsat-bb.
-Individuals usually don't respond to e-mails not specifically 
addressed to them.
-Given the nature of the exchanges on amsat-bb, there isn't much 
encouragement for people to respond.
-Our volunteers who serve in leadership positions devote a significant 
amount of time to AMSAT.  Given lack of time, they will likely focus on 
issues and concerns that are directly brought to their attention.

As noted above, not everyone in a leadership position (including the 
BOD) subscribes to amsat-bb.  The are a number of reasons why this may 
be the case:
-Given the amounts of e-mail that individuals receive, not everyone has 
time to pour through the hundreds of amsat-bb e-mails generated each 
week.
-The tone of discussions on amsat-bb can cause people to unsubscribe.  
Frankly, given the amount of negative comments, personal attacks, and 
emotional outpouring that has come across amsat-bb over time, not 
everyone is interested in reviewing such postings.  Quality of content 
and courtesy do matter in retaining readership on the amsat-bb.
-There is a real concern about not getting 'drawn into' a series of 
exchanges that may not be fruitful.  Rather than get placed in such a 
position, the natural reaction is to avoid getting started.
-The availability of the amsat-bb archive on the AMSAT web page does 
provide a mechanism for people to review postings over a particular 
period of time (e.g. last 48 hours, last 10 days, etc.).  This allows a 
'quick scan' of topics without the necessity of actually subscribing to 
amsat-bb.

Now, it may be that you believe that every BOD member 'should' 
subscribe to amsat-bb.  And perhaps not subscribing to amsat-bb means 
that a BOD member or senior officer may miss an e-mail exchange that 
may be useful.  Please keep in mind, however, that each individual 
makes their own determination of how best to use their limited 
resources (particularly time) to support AMSAT and to fulfill their 
obligations.  Other BOD members or senior officers who do subscribe to 
amsat-bb will bring to the attention of the appropriate individual(s) 
particular e-mails if it is felt that such forwarding will be helpful. 
Having these 'eyes and ears' provide this assistance is one way that 
the BOD and senior officers help to  keep each other informed.  
Consequently, I don't believe that not having every BOD member and 
senior officer read every amsat-bb posting has been detrimental to the 
overall organization.

As noted in earlier amsat-bb postings, the best way to get a response 
from someone in a leadership position is to follow some general 
guidelines:

-Address your query to a specific individual.    Emily Clarke, W0EEC 
has created a means on the AMSAT webpage to post an e-mail to 
individual BOD members and senior officers.  Take advantage of this new 
tool.  Alternatively, send an e-mail to an individual's e-mail alias 
(such as wd4asw@amsat.org).

-Do not assume that an e-mail sent to 'the world' will get a response.  
Our volunteers are pretty busy people.  If they see an e-mail sent to a 
group, they will assume that 'some body' will answer and of course 'no 
body' does.  Again, select an individual who you think is in the best 
position to answer your query and send a note to that one individual.  
If that person is not in position to address your query, it will be 
forwarded to someone who can answer you.  Take the time to look at the 
masthead of the AMSAT Journal or the AMSAT webpage 
(http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/AboutAmsat/officers.php) to see who 
covers which areas of responsibility.

Again, if you truly want to gain a response or feedback from an AMSAT 
BOD member or senior officer, take the courtesy of actually addressing 
your e-mail to the appropriate individual!  If you're not willing to 
address the individual in question, then don't expect 'someone' to 
respond.

-Keep in mind that the senior officers are responsible for the 
day-to-day operation of AMSAT while the Board of Directors is 
responsible for the strategic direction of the corporation, approving 
the budget, and corporate oversight.  This means that the senior 
officers (including the President) implement the policies established 
by the BOD.  Consequently, address your comments to the appropriate 
area.  If you're concerned about the schedule of AO-51, for example, 
that is not a question for the BOD but the VP-Operations.  If you're 
concerned about the AMSAT Journal, that question falls under the 
VP-Marketing and User Services, not the BOD.  However, if you're 
concerned about the AMSAT budget, the strategic direction of the 
organization, etc. those are indeed questions that you may want to send 
to a BOD member.

-Be respectful of others.  Again, our volunteers are working hard and 
don't deserve to get 'hate mail.'  If you have a specific question, ask 
it.  Make it simple for the other guy to respond by focusing on only 
one issue.

-As the majority of our volunteers have 'day jobs' and may have a pile 
of e-mails to go through, be patient about a response.  If you haven't 
seen a reply in a week, resend your original query.  Understand that 
our volunteers only have so much time per day or per week to devote to 
AMSAT.

-Use the phone.  Most officers and BOD members do not have unlisted 
phone numbers, so look up their phone number on the web and call at a 
reasonable hour.

-Take the opportunity to meet with the AMSAT leadership.  A number of 
senior officers and BOD members living in the DC area will be attending 
the upcoming AMSAT-DC meeting at the Visitor's Auditorium of the 
Goddard Spaceflight Center, Greenbelt, MD on Saturday, May 14.  
Information on this meeting can be found in the AMSAT Calendar of 
Events on the main page of the website ("Annual AMSAT-DC Meeting and 
Space Seminar").   Most of the AMSAT senior officers and BOD members 
will be at the Dayton Hamvention May 20-22.  The upcoming AMSAT 
Symposium and Annual Meeting in Lafayette, LA  the weekend of October 
7-9 is a great opportunity to meet the BOD members and senior 
leadership team as well.


Now, keep in mind that AMSAT has a number of effective communication 
tools.  This includes the AMSAT Journal, AMSAT News Service, and the 
AMSAT website.  Much of the information that people are asking for can 
be found in one of these sources.  For example, Jim Sanford, WB4GCS 
provided a detailed status report on Eagle in the current issue 
(JAN/FEB 2005) of the AMSAT Journal.  Has anybody read it?  Given that 
much of Eagle is still in early development, progress is moving at a 
relatively slow pace at this point in time.  Do not expect 'weekly 
updates' as there isn't much to report.  However, Jim does expect to 
provide updates in each issue of the AMSAT Journal.  If you are not 
currently an AMSAT member, here is a good reason to join as membership 
includes receiving six issues of the Journal each year.   He will also 
provide a status report during the AMSAT Forum at the Hamvention  as 
one of four presentations being given (Saturday 0815-0945 in Forum Room 
1). Details on AMSAT activities at Hamvention can be found on AMSAT web 
page.  Expect extensive discussions on Eagle at the AMSAT Symposium 
this Fall.

I authored an article in the same issue on the strategic direction that 
AMSAT is taking (Mission/Vision) and the focus on HEO satellites.  I 
noted the fund raising issues that we have  and the challenge in 
generating donations needed to fund these projects.  Has anybody read 
it?  To my knowledge, I haven't seen one e-mail sent to me in response 
to that article.  Has anyone donated to Eagle this year?  Do we  all 
understand that we need donations in 2005, 2006, 2007, etc. in order to 
fulfill the vision of 'daily coverage' by 2009 and 'continious 
coverage' by 2012?

The AMSAT Journal previously published the results of the AMSAT 
Membership Survey.  This information is very helpful in looking at 
trends and expectations of our membership and has been a very effective 
tool for the BOD.  Please note that the survey results have only been 
distributed through the Journal. Over time, we will continue to enhance 
the quality of the AMSAT Journal as exemplified by the outstanding 
JAN/FEB 2005 issue that arrived in mailboxes earlier this month 
(another reason to maintain an AMSAT membership).  BTW, Ed Long, WA4SWJ 
is the AMSAT Journal editor and  is always looking for articles.  
Consider whether you have something to contribute towards making the 
AMSAT Journal an even better publication.  You can e-mail Ed at 
wa4swj@amsat.org.

The AMSAT News Service (ANS) continues to provide late breaking news of 
interest to our membership. For example, did you see last week's 
posting concerning continuation of kep data distribution?  Are you 
aware of the outstanding work that Ray Hoad, WA5QGD performed in 
getting the Air Force Space Command to agree to allow AMSAT to continue 
to distribute keplerian element data to amateurs and to keep our 
"Predict" satellite tracking feature in service on the AMSAT website?  
Because of Ray's diligence and taking the time to develop an effective 
working relationship with senior officers at AFSC, AMSAT was able to 
provide input to AFSC concerning the importance of kep distribution to 
amateur radio operators and explained to AFSC the nature of amateur 
radios satellite communications.    Due to a public law that was passed 
by Congress last November, it was quite likely that mass distribution 
of kep data for amateur satellites would have been curtailed if Ray had 
not taken the lead to work out an arrangement with AFSC.   His 
behind-the-scenes work made a difference.

If you are not currently receiving ANS, please subscribe.  You are 
missing out on an outstanding source of information that is released 
each week by a team of editors led by Lee McLamb, KU4OS. Go to 
http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/news/  and select "Subscribe to AMSAT 
New Service" located on the left column of that page.  Given your 
interest in AMSAT and satellites as exemplified by your participation 
in amsat-bb, I would hope that you'd arrange to receive the weekly ANS 
Bulletins as well.  ANS is available to both members and non-members of 
AMSAT.  The ANS typically sends out two bulletins each weekend:  1) " 
Weekly Satellite Status Report", and 2) "AMSAT Weekly Bulletins".  Both 
are valuable resources that provide timely information of interest to 
satellite users.  In my opinion, unless you are receiving these 
e-mails, you are not keeping yourself informed on the latest activities 
within AMSAT and the satellite community.  You can also submit news to 
ANS Online by going to http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/contact/ and 
selecting "Submit a News Article" under "Reasons for Contact."

Likewise, the AMSAT website hosts a significant amount of 'corporate 
information' about AMSAT, including audited financial reports and 
annual reports.  As noted in recent amsat-bb postings, the "Annual 
Report 2003" is on the website (the 2004 report is currently being 
prepared).  Questions have been raised about how to interpret the 
numbers.  AMSAT follows 'generally accepted accounting principles" and 
everything is done in accordance with how our auditors have advised us 
to report our actions.  Our books have been audited for more than the 
last 10 years.  We are not hiding anything about our financial 
condition.

A  question has been raised about how to interpret the numbers.  Keep 
in mind that the "2003 Annual Report" contains both a Balance Sheet and 
Income Statement ("Sources and Uses of Funds") for 2002.  The former 
provides an overview of the assets and liabilities of the corporation 
while the latter details the changes in financial condition.  Note that 
the income statement denotes a negative $73,009.30, which means that 
AMSAT spent more money in 2002 than it took in.  A significant portion 
of that was due to expenses associated with the  AMSAT-Echo project 
that year.  We have also seen a downturn in total membership, primarily 
due to people not renewing.  I discuss this briefly in an article in 
the upcoming March/April 2005 issue of the AMSAT Journal.

Also posted on the website is our Audited Statement for the year 2003 
as well as our IRS Tax form for that year.  In 2003, AMSAT raised over 
$417,000 in contributions which, when added to other sources of 
revenue, created $631,935 in total revenue. Our expenses that year was 
$346,859 resulting in a 'net income' of $285,076.  That more than 
offset the 'loss' of 2002, but also included funds to be expended in 
2004 for the completion of Echo plus subsequent launch.  Hopefully, 
this brief summary will satisfy recent queries about our income 
statements.

Members are encouraged to review these documents.  All of the reports 
that are provided are complete and accurate. Please keep in mind that 
while this information is freely available, please do not assume that 
our Treasurer or other officers will provide an overview on accounting 
practices to help you understand how to read a financial statement.

One of the changes that we recently made is an attempt to document 'In 
Kind' services as well as recognize that when AMSAT builds a satellite, 
it is indeed an 'asset' that should be amortized over time.  Such 
changes in accounting practices will hopefully more accurately reflect 
the activities of AMSAT and give potential large donors (who do know 
how to read financial statements) a better understanding of AMSAT.

Recently there have been a number of comments made about AO-51 and the 
impact it has had on AMSAT.  The BOD made the decision in 2002 to build 
and launch this satellite for a number of reasons:

-Given the challenges (and disappointments) associated with AO-40, 
AMSAT-NA needed to get a project started and completed quickly in order 
to create future support for the more challenging (and expensive) 
Eagle.
-The cost of Echo was such that AMSAT could commit to the project 
without putting the corporation at risk.
-The value of FM satellites to attract newcomers to amateur satellites 
was demonstrated by earlier FM birds such as AO-27 and UO-14.  There 
were concerns about how long these assets would continue to be 
available.
-The ability to launch a PBBS-capable satellite to supplement (and 
eventually replace) UO-22, UO-23, UO-25 was recognized as an advantage.
-Given that the last time AMSAT-NA launched a satellite was in 1990, 
the BOD felt it was time for AMSAT-NA to take a leadership position in 
building satellites.  (AO-40 was an AMSAT-DL led project that was fully 
supported by AMSAT-NA.)
-AMSAT-DL was already committed to building P3-Express.  Given that the 
proposed communications suite for Eagle was very similar to P3-E, the 
BOD felt it might be wise to not concentrate on Eagle until after P3-E 
was further along in development.  This would allow Eagle to benefit 
from sharing common technology (such as IHU-3 and Can-Do!) as well as 
put Eagle in position for launch after knowing what the results were 
from the launch of P3-E.  Subsequently, AMSAT-NA has supported P3-E by 
covering the expenses of AMSAT-NA members who are involved with the 
P3-E project because we realize that the success of P3-E will help meet 
AMSAT-NA's vision.
-At the time of making the decision on AMSAT-Echo, the BOD recognized 
that Eagle would require major funding.  Given the disappointments with 
AO-40, there were concerns about our ability to raise the funds needed 
for development and launch at that time.

In my mind, the BOD decision to support AMSAT-Echo over Eagle was both 
prudent and appropriate.  Given the subsequent demise of UO-14 and very 
limited availability of AO-27, coupled with the loss of the primary 
9600 DFM packet birds (UO-22, UO-23, and UO-25), AO-51 has provided an 
invaluable resource for amateurs worldwide.  Given our resources at the 
time of that decision, it was the right thing to do.  In the upcoming 
AMSAT Journal I have an article that includes a discussion of 
membership counts.  AMSAT has seen a continuing flow of new AMSAT 
members (around 350 per year).  However, net AMSAT membership has 
continued to decline since 1994 because we are losing renewing members. 
  This appears to be primarily due to the loss of AO-40.  I have 
prepared a letter that will be mailed shortly to every individual who 
has not renewed their AMSAT membership in the past year which outlines 
the changes taking place at AMSAT, highlights our new strategic vision, 
and asks that person to renew their membership.  I am hoping that as 
more members (and former members) are aware of the direction that AMSAT 
is taking, that we will see more renewals.  AMSAT is not sitting still.

Finally, please recognize that the Board of Directors is fully 
committed to Eagle.  As our vision statement clearly states, the future 
success of AMSAT is dependent upon creating 'daily coverage' by 2009 
and 'continuos coverage' in 2012.  These area challenging goals that 
can only be achieved if everyone helps to support our efforts.

Part of our communications plan for 2005 is to build the membership's 
awareness of AMSAT's  fundamental changes in strategic direction and 
organizational structure.  These were highlighted in the article that 
appeared in the January/February issue ("This is not Your Father's 
AMSAT").   In order to have a successful fund raising effort for Eagle, 
we first must build a 'case for support.'  We must gain the support of 
our membership that we are taking the right steps and that everyone 
must come to the realization that we need everyone's financial support 
if we are to raise the funds that are so vital for a successful 
project.  Once we have taken the time to build membership awareness and 
provided the 'case for support', then the formal fund raising campaign 
will begin in earnest.  Our goal is raise $100,000 in 2005, so it 
certainly isn't too soon to make your contribution towards supporting 
Eagle in 2005.

I hope that you have found these comments helpful.  Our volunteers who 
serve as BOD members, Senior Officers, and officers of AMSAT are 
dedicated to fulfilling AMSAT's strategic goals.  We are mindful of the 
need to communicate, which we have done primarily through the AMSAT 
Journal, AMSAT News Service, and AMSAT website. Members of our 
leadership team will be available to meet with you at several upcoming 
'major functions' such as AMSAT-DC meeting and Hamvention.  We answer 
e-mail when such e-mail is in-fact addressed to a specific individual.  
Please consider how YOU might help AMSAT to fulfill it's potential by 
your personal volunteering of time, treasure, and talent. If you are a 
subscriber to amsat-bb and are not a current AMSAT member, please get 
on our website (www.amsat.org) now and become a member!


Regards,

Barry A. Baines, WD4ASW
VP-Marketing & User Services and BOD Member
AMSAT-NA
----
Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Not an AMSAT member? Join now to support the amateur satellite program!
To unsubscribe, send "unsubscribe amsat-bb" to Majordomo@amsat.org



AMSAT Top AMSAT Home