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Written by Dave Mathewson
View from HQ
Monthly AMA News Column
As seen in the September 2017 issue of
Model Aviation.



We’ve all heard the question, “When a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, did it make a sound?” The logical answer would be “yes.”

I was speaking with another association leader recently who put a spin on that question. He asked, “If an association offers value to its members and the members do not take advantage, did the association deliver value?” He felt most would answer that question with “no.”

His reasoning centered upon value proposition. Today it is critically important that associations such as AMA provide a high level of value to their members. Occasionally, when an AMA member is asked about what he or she receives from his or her membership, the person is at a loss for a good answer.

This is typical in most membership organizations. In AMA’s case, insurance is usually given as a reason for belonging. After that, the member sometimes has a hard time articulating other reasons, although most know that there are many.

Most of AMA’s members can be broken down into two categories. Those in the first category will continue to belong to AMA no matter what. Many have been modelers for decades and AMA members for nearly as long. They know the organization and believe in it because they’ve lived it. They know firsthand how their AMA membership has enhanced their ability to enjoy model aviation.

The second is a more challenging group. Those in this group are generally willing to join an organization if they believe that the value they receive from membership is equal to or greater than the cost of dues. They are typically younger, have busy lives, and their available recreation time is limited. They see association membership as an investment and want to see a return on that investment.

AMA Executive Director, Dave Mathewson

AMA offers dozens of membership benefits. Not every member wants or needs each benefit, but all want or need some. Make a list of all AMA membership benefits. Some of the most recognizable include AMA’s work to allow model aviation to remain free of overly onerous government regulation; its work as a liaison to other government agencies including the EPA, FCC, and Department of Homeland Security; the Disaster Relief Program that has helped dozens of clubs faced with loss or damage to their flying sites as the result of natural disasters; the Flying Site Assistance Grant Program that has helped clubs improve their current facilities or purchase a permanent flying site; the Take off And Grow Program that provides financial assistance to help clubs introduce model aviation to others in their communities and build the club’s credibility with its neighbors; the Legal Defense Fund that provides matching dollar financial assistance to help clubs overcome the threat of losing flying sites; and subscriptions to AMA’s flagship publication, Model Aviation, or Park Pilot magazine, or both.

Add to this impressive list the Charles H. Grant Scholarship Program that has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to young members beginning their college careers; AMA’s education outreach efforts that provide support to clubs in their effort to introduce model aviation to younger members of their communities; a structured system of competition rules and a sanctioning process that helps manage more than 2,500 individual club events each year; and being the only organization in the US that represents model aviation on an international level through our affiliation with the NAA and FAI.

Then add a significant benefit, the one most members think about first when asked about AMA: the liability insurance protection AMA provides to each member. This excess coverage for members is well above what most of us individually carry and provides peace of mind for many. Possibly more important is the primary protection that each of our chartered clubs can offer flying site owners as a result of their AMA affiliation. This benefit has allowed hundreds of clubs access to good flying sites that they might not have otherwise had.

To complete the list, add the dozens of other benefits, too numerous to mention, that are also included with an AMA membership.

So now that you’ve compiled a list, place a dollar value next to each item that would equal the value of this benefit to you. Values will be different for every member. Some members feel certain benefits have no value to them while others might place a high value on that same benefit.

After you’ve assigned values go back and add up the numbers. If the number is greater than the cost of your dues, membership in AMA is a good value for you. I truly believe most will find that AMA membership is a great value.

See you next time …

4 comments

AMA’s work to allow model aviation to remain free of overly onerous government regulation; its work as a liaison to other government agencies including the EPA, FCC, and Department of Homeland Security – Value to me $0 – You work to protect the AMA’s bottom line, not my hobby interest. In fact in a recently penned piece the president of the AMA called me a rogue threat.
The Disaster Relief Program that has helped dozens of clubs faced with loss or damage to their flying sites as the result of natural disasters – Value to me $0 - I am not a club
The Flying Site Assistance Grant Program that has helped clubs improve their current facilities or purchase a permanent flying site – Value to me $0 – I am not a club
The Take off And Grow Program that provides financial assistance to help clubs introduce model aviation to others in their communities and build the club’s credibility with its neighbors – Value to me $0 – I am not a club
The Legal Defense Fund that provides matching dollar financial assistance to help clubs overcome the threat of losing flying sites – Value to me $0 – I am not a club
Subscriptions to AMA’s flagship publication, Model Aviation, or Park Pilot magazine, or both. – Value to me $0 – I can live without it.
The Charles H. Grant Scholarship Program that has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to young members beginning their college careers – Value to me $0 – not a young member entering college
AMA’s education outreach efforts that provide support to clubs in their effort to introduce model aviation to younger members of their communities – Never seen any outreach in my area – Value to me $0
A structured system of competition rules and a sanctioning process that helps manage more than 2,500 individual club events each year - Value to me $0 – I do not enter club or sanctioned events.
The only organization in the US that represents model aviation on an international level through our affiliation with the NAA and FAI – Value to me $0 – Not something I participate in
The liability insurance protection AMA provides to each member. This excess coverage for members is well above what most of us individually carry and provides peace of mind for many – Value to me $0. Homeowners or Renters insurance would be primary and would need to respond as needed.
Possibly more important is the primary protection that each of our chartered clubs can offer flying site owners as a result of their AMA affiliation. This benefit has allowed hundreds of clubs access to good flying sites that they might not have otherwise had. Value to me $0 – I am not a club
Hence no renewal from me in 2018

Hello Dave,
Guess I am one of those in your 'second' category who struggles to find value in my AMA membership. I see the AMA much like Unions. At one time it was needed, now that we have laws in place and the FAA with it's over arching 'rules', I dont see the need for the AMA. In fact when a cost increase was pushed down upon us it made me really question the value and why should I be paying this. I don't buy the argument that the AMA is out there fighting the fight for its members when in fact it took a citizen at large to take the FAA to court to overrule their mandate last year. And when my state started to consider imposing additional sanctions on RC fliers it was an AMA member that stood up and agreed the state should restrict and in some cases eliminate the sport. Where was the AMA in either of these disputes? NOWHERE!

You mention the 'great' insurance coverage the AMA offers its members. After speaking with the AMA it was determined that a pilot would first need to exhaust their own insurance and other finances before the AMA would even consider to get involved and even then, under the AMA scrutiny it would be the AMA to determine IF they are willing to assist its member. So yes, I don't agree that your insurance is attractive and today I can acquire my own insurance without the AMA/

The ONLY and i do mean ONLY reason why I tolerate the AMA and forced to pay for this 'membership' is I like to fly at this club that is a so called AMA 'club'. If I can fly at this site under my own insurance without forced to be an AMA member I would do so.

So in closing, I have seen NO value with the AMA nor have I seen the AMA assisting our club. I wished the AMA would allow sites that are AMA 'sites' (funny how this is when the AMA does not OWN the site) they pilots that can prove their are insured can participate at these sites. If you don't start doing this you will be losing more members and you will be seeing more fliers with drones and other aircraft flying in alternative locations.

Sincerely,
Capt. Ken Pappas

True. However, out here we are getting the response "I don't need insurance, Idon't need someone telling me how to fly or what to do". They don't become club members, but they do fly and end up in the news. Rules are rules but as a club officer, we are having a hard time combating the renegades.

Excellent article, Dave. The group that you mention, those who are, "generally willing to join an organization if they believe that the value they receive from membership is equal to or greater than the cost of dues," is a challenge for all 5 aviation groups to whom I belong. Kudos on spelling out the advantages of the AMA. I love my AMA membership.
Pierre J. Moeser, MD, FACP, FACR
Clinical Rheumatologist, Aviation Hypoxia Expert, private and remote pilot
Medical Consultant and Board Member, Missouri Pilots Association
Medical Consultant, United States Pilots Association

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