How ARRL Operates, a Continuing Series

Earlier in this series, we explained how the Board Members and Section Managers are elected and how they interact within the ARRL business structure (see WGD Newsletter, November 2011).  Today, we will explore the volunteer structure.

Today, there are approximately 100 officers and staff members employed in Newington – servicing approximately 162,000 ARRL members and supporting over 44,450 volunteers.

Let that soak in.  One hundred employees are servicing 162,000 members, coordinating a volunteer body that consists of 27% of the membership.

In most business models, leadership is described as a pyramid, with the leader at the top occupying the most important position.  In a volunteer organization, it is important to view the pyramid in reserve, because without the volunteer base, the ARRL would not be successful.

The base is composed of amateurs who contribute faithfully to positions like Section Managers, Section Emergency Coordinator (Amateur Radio Emergency Service™ – ARES™), the Official Observer Coordinator, the Affiliated Club Coordinator, the Public Information Coordinator, the State Government Liaison, the Section Traffic Manager, Assistant Section Managers (ASM’s), Directors, Vice Directors and Assistant Division Directors (ADD’s).  There are, also, Volunteer Examiners, Volunteer Counsels, Volunteer Instructors, Volunteer Mentors, Volunteer Consulting Engineers, Volunteer Technical Specialists, Volunteer QSL Bureau Chiefs, Volunteer DXCC Card Checkers, and Official Observers. The list is almost endless and we apologize to anyone whose specialty is not specifically listed because we truly do value what you do on behalf of the ARRL.

Often times, SM’s or Directors appoint specialty positions to fill the need of a specific interest.  For example, in the West Gulf, the Division Leadership has collectively agreed to focus in on Scouting so each section now has an ASM for Radio Scouting and the Division now has an ADD for Radio Scouting.  Collectively these folks will work to increase Amateur Radio’s presence in the various Scouting organizations.

Webster defines “voluntary” as proceeding from the will or from one’s own choice or consent; acting or done of one’s own free will without valuable consideration or legal obligation.”  All of these volunteers give of their time generously, typically at their own expense and often at the expense of their own family time.  Many times one hears, “They are just a volunteer” or “They need to do more”.  Remember that without volunteers the ARRL could not effectively exist.  Sure, it might take a day or two to have an email answered, or an issue addressed – but that volunteer might be dealing with a family situation, be working, be away on vacation, or simply has not had an opportunity to respond.  These volunteers who have stepped up to the task of assisting in the Amateur service are doing their very best to make sure that you as a member are heard and validated.

The truth is ARRL volunteers give their time because they believe in the Amateur service and they have chosen the ARRL as their way of giving back.  Please take a moment to thank them the next time you see them at a hamfest or club meeting and consider what you can do to give back to this amazing service.  No matter your level of involvement, you too can make a difference.

An expanded discussion of the operations of the Board and Staff will be presented in following issues.

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