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Re: Communications

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 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
> ----
> 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!
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Hi Barry,

Thanks for your time and information.
I think I speak for many when I say your time and efforts for Amsat are 
much appreciated worldwide.
Again my thanks and keep up the good work.
I remain

Respectfully Yours,

Bill Greene VE7WFG
Armstrong BC DO00jk
Amsat Area Coordinator for British Columbia
Amsat #29777
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!
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