APS proposes merger with American Stamp Dealers Association
By Charles Snee
Scott D. English, executive director of the American Philatelic Society, has announced a proposed merger of the APS and the American Stamp Dealers Association. The announcement was published Oct. 3 on the APS website.
English told Linn’s Stamp News that the proposal was sent to the boards of directors of the APS and the ASDA “to get feedback and insight and decide if there was will to even consider it, let alone adopt it.”
“Any proposal requires approval by the ASDA Board, ASDA membership and the APS Board — all of which are an open process, subject to discussion and debate,” English told Linn’s.
According to English, the idea of the merger was first presented to the board of directors of the ASDA during the Aug. 25-28 Great American Stamp Show in Sacramento, Calif.
“Following the meeting and the feedback of the ASDA Board, I prepared a confidential memo, sent on September 22, 2022, for the APS and ASDA Boards to begin a discussion of whether the idea had merit and was worth pursuing,” English said in the announcement.
“Any proposal would have to be approved by the ASDA Board and submitted to the ASDA membership for approval, followed by some legal processes in the State of New York.”
Any changes would also require approval from the APS board of directors, English said.
English set Jan. 1, 2023, as a target date for the proposed merger, but he acknowledged that the date is “too ambitious given the approvals required.”
According to English, the merger is worth considering and is “a starting point for a worthwhile and necessary discussion.”
In his announcement, English provided the full text of the confidential memo that he sent to the APS and ASDA boards following his meeting with the ASDA board at Great American Stamp Show.
In the memo, English begins with some historical background relevant to the APS and ASDA. He notes the decline of storefront stamp shows and the rise of online dealers.
“Failing to adapt and assert our collective membership value in the digital marketplace will erode consumer confidence and allow bad actors to profit from unsuspecting buyers,” English said in the memo.
“To remain effective, we should merge these organizations as one to leverage our respective brand strengths without wasting resources on duplication of administration.”
Under the proposed merger, the ASDA would be renamed the American Stamp Dealers Alliance.
“We propose tweaking the [ASDA] name to better fit and preserve our 501(c)(3) status by avoiding having an Association within a Society,” English said.
In the memo, English outlines how the proposed merger would affect the operation of both organizations.
Changes outlined in the proposed merger would also affect the ASDA’s official publication, the American Stamp Collector & Dealer.
“We plan to offer a discounted subscription to APS members in Year One,” English said.
“After that, we plan to provide members with a choice between the AP [American Philatelist] and the ASC&D with an add-on membership option to receive both publications.”
The proposed merger would also impact APS dealer membership.
“Within 12 months, the APS will work with the dealer community to establish standards and a proposed tiered membership structure to meet the needs of dealers and stable long-term funding for the ASDA,” English said.
According to English, the proposed merger also calls for the formation of an Institute of Philately “to identify and educate dealers and experts to retain the knowledge needed for a trustworthy marketplace.”
Seed funding for the institute would come from available funds held by the ASDA and fundraising efforts, English said.
English said the proposed merger would add a requirement for voting dealer representation on the APS board of directors, which would necessitate a change to the APS bylaws.
“This change would be subject to the approval of the APS membership,” English said.
The proposed APS and ASDA merger will be among the topics to be addressed at an APS town hall meeting that will take place Oct. 14 at the Nojex and ASDA stamp show in East Rutherford, N.J.
“We are at an opportunistic moment where we have the knowledge and leadership to accomplish this merger as a meaningful partnership,” English said at the conclusion of the memo.
“The APS is the most financially sound it has been in decades and will continue to strengthen in the years ahead.”
In response to questions from Linn’s, English provided some additional insights.
“We’re open to ideas on how organized philately can more effectively work together to protect the interests of stamp collectors, maintain a trustworthy marketplace, and appeal to more stamp collectors to join our ranks,” he said.
“To date, there’s talk that someone should do something for the hobby, and nothing has happened. This proposal is the first real attempt to proactively make organized philately more relevant than it is today and other folks should be thinking along those lines.”
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