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Re: Communications

Excellent commentary. I hope that this provides the necessary 'hint' to 
those that feel no one is listening. I say or do little on here unless I 
feel I have something to contribute, but I had to respond to this with 
an 'atta boy'! Again, good work and good synopsis of your and other BOD 

Reid Bristor, W4UPD

Barry A. Baines wrote:

> 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 
> -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 
> 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
> ----
> Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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