In my discussions with amateur radio operators in Southern Ontario, one of the themes that is developing regarding their national organization, Radio Amateurs of Canada, is concern about transparency. It's pretty simple, If they pay money, they want to know what's going on with their organization.
Last night I put forward a motion to the RAC Board (which was accepted) to post the minutes of our meetings earlier. Prior to this motion, minutes could only be posted to the RAC website after they had been accepted at the next meeting of the Board, which means that members of RAC could be reading about what's going on two months later. It's a common problem with organizations that meet monthly.
In our new method, following a board meeting we will quickly circulate the meeting minutes electronically and the directors will respond (while it's fresh in our minds) with any corrections. These "tentative" minutes will then be posted on the RAC website. At the next meeting they will be accepted, as is common practice, and the "tentative" label removed.
The point of the motion is that I'd like to see the membership better engage with their regional director. This allows my constituency in Southern Ontario to reach out to me as their director before the next meeting if an issue they are concerned with is being discussed.
Another area that is opening up is discussion of membership numbers. In the last three years the organization is doing a better job of categorization of members and tracking those numbers. At the last AGM there was open discussion of the current numbers and since then I've seen a month by month summary of the various categories.
These sorts of numbers are critical in understanding how well RAC is engaged in the community, the authenticity of our claim to represent Amateur Radion in Canada and the general health of the organization. The numbers can be thought of as our "marketshare" and should be represented in terms of RAC membership as a percentage of active licenced amateurs - more on this in a future post.
I also believe we need to benchmark RAC performance against both the ARRL and the Radio Society of Great Britain. Clearly the ARRL is in excellent health, which may be intimidating here in Canada but if we don't aim to continuously improve, what's the point?
These are small steps towards improved transparency, but I believe they are in the right direction. What's next? I'd love to hear your thoughts.