The ARRL has taken only two dues increases in over 20 years. You cannot run a business this way and expect it to survive. We’ve been talking about the dues for more than a year now and we even reached out to the membership and asked for their help through a member survey. We heard from over 20,000 of you!
The ARRL has been operating with a budget deficit for the past four years. We stopped travel, conventions, and received PPP money that allowed us to manage the deficits until these last two years. With inflation running far past the 3% mark and the crazy things happening in the print supply chain, the deficits have grown to a level where action had to be taken.
You may remember that back in May 2022 we had a change in QST’s paper. We had to race to find paper for us to get QSTprinted, and we can say that we have never missed printing an issue. It did ship a week late—and it cost us an additional $43,000. We never want to let our membership down. So, based on a five-year financial projection and modeling in an increase of $59 in dues, the ARRL can continue to operate. However, the print side of our benefits are not sustainable. For years we have offered both QEX and NCJ in print. These were always subscriptions treated as add-ons to your membership. For more than a decade, ARRL members have received all of ARRLs magazines free in digital format. On The Air was added a few years ago and costs $40 in addition to your membership, unless you want it instead of QST.
Now, you may have heard that we didn’t look for other options and that there just has to be some other way. A group of people including the ARRL CEO, CFO, and treasurer spent months modeling the business and looking at alternatives. The alternatives were all worse.
Let’s face it, increasingly members are going digital. Just as other membership organizations have found it necessary to do. Even ham radio clubs have all but dropped sending a printed newsletter out to their members. Everyone is going digital. With that said, we know that there are nostalgic collectors of printed QSTs who absolutely have to have the printed magazine. If we had continued with the printing of QST, we would have had to raise dues to everyone to $75 or possibly higher. Charging all members to cover the costs of a printed QST for a declining group of paper readers would be totally unfair. Instead, we’ve been able to keep dues low for the membership and make both QST and On The Air available in print as an add-on to membership.
Compare what we’re doing with another popular magazine in our hobby. They charge $30 for digital and $62.50 for print and digital. That’s $32.50 more than digital. Just ask their subscribers how that’s been going for them. They struggle to deliver their printed magazine. And, for $62.50 what other benefits and services do you receive from them? Nothing. The ARRL has always made your membership the best deal in amateur radio.
No one likes the fact that we have to remove the printed QST from our benefits and end it for membership terms that go past January 2024, but with a cost of some $1.6 million to print, the organization just can no longer afford to do it. Our by-laws were written many years ago to anticipate that this day would eventually come. We will continue to deliver a printed QST to every member who wants to buy a copy for as long as we reasonably can.
Up until last year, life members only contributed $26 a year towards the $49 dues. The life member program has been financially broken for years and should have been addressed long ago. We appreciate the loyalty that the life membership program provides, but the financials just don’t work. Which is why we are reviewing the life member program as well.
I do hope that this gives you a much better understanding of why we had to do what we did to keep OUR ARRL strong and vibrant for years to come.
Thank you for being a member!! —Scott