Billerica ARS’ Outreach to New Hams

Andy Wallace, KA1GTT, writes in the Billerica Amateur Radio Society December, 2019 newsletter:

I would like you to think back to the time you first had interest in ham radio. Who got you involved? What did you see (equipment) or heard (QSOs) that fascinated you? How easy – or difficult – was it for you to get into this wonderful hobby? And then, what kept your interest and motivation to stick with it?

Your Board has met several times to brainstorm how we can capture some of the people who are newly licensed. Anyone who gets a ham license and already has a cadre of friendly people in a club leading him or her down the path of enjoyment is blessed. What is tragic is someone who attends a VE session, passes, and then buys some kind of radio and is frustrated with the results of trying to do things alone. The term Elmer is passé and we like to use the word “mentor” instead. BARS is full of mentors! It really is.

So the Board’s idea was to enlist a volunteer to reach out to newly licensed hams and send out a mailing. We have to do this via U.S. Mail, because licensing lists do not show email addresses. It turns out that this database is available through the ARRL to club presidents. Tom, K1TW, told us that other Eastern MA clubs have independently decided to do this sort of outreach. Tom and I have looked at these lists over the past several months and the complete list for Eastern MA is well under 50 licensees/month. This is disappointing when you want to see growth in the hobby, but it also makes our outreach a smaller task.

We have come up with the design of a postcard for mailing. It will look like a QSL but has a greeting on the reverse explaining why it was sent. A postcard appealed to us because it looks less like “junk mail” and postage is less. And having it look like a QSL will capture a new ham’s attention. See the pictures below for what your team has come up with.

The back text reads “Welcome to ham radio! Your name appeared on the latest FCC roster as a newly licensed amateur radio operator. When starting any new hobby, it helps to connect with people who can mentor you and help build your enjoyment. You will have more fun and know more of what you can do by being in a club! Please check out our club at www.w1hh.org. You can also explore other ham clubs in the area by visiting: www.arrl.org/find-a-club Greetings from everyone at the Billerica Amateur Radio Society!”

We are having a trial run of cards printed, and will sort out the decision process about which locations will be in our area of coverage. Our first volunteer for sending out cards will be John Fisher, KC1FTJ. I hope you’ll agree with us that our message sends a positive “Join a Club” statement, allowing the person to find the club that appeals to them. That may not necessarily be BARS but hopefully our goodwill can bear fruit in new membership too.

 

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