By John L. Beath
Serving as OWAA president for the past 12 months has been an extreme honor and pleasure. Working with a diverse group of board members, as well as many member volunteers, has renewed my faith in the strength of our organization.
Everyone I worked with this past year was positive and strived to do their best to help OWAA grow and move forward. Your elected board of directors accomplished a great deal and will continue to conquer long-term goals while facing new challenges brought on by the economy and continually changing technology. The biggest challenge we faced this past year was the poor economy and its affect on members. When the economy suffers our members suffer too, which creates a tighter budget for everyone, including nonprofit groups like OWAA and some of OWAA’s supporting groups, agencies and businesses.
One of my goals as president was to help find new, profitable opportunities for our membership and our organization. Each month my I-Tech column has provided information about new technology and ways to save money or profit from the technology. I plan to continue writing this column, in hopes it will help members learn about and benefit from new technology.
Another goal was to help reduce the OWAA budget without reducing member services. Goals of this magnitude aren’t accomplished easily and require cooperation from the board and members alike. At the upcoming board meeting I will outline savings to the OWAA budget that amount to approximately $44,000 per year – without reduction in member services.
Recently, I visited headquarters and met with a commercial Realtor about selling OWAA headquarters. The condo unit we share with two other owners has been for sale for more than a year. Missoula real estate prices have fallen, just like everywhere else in the U.S. This has made it difficult to sell the condo unit. Hopefully everyone has followed the reasons behind selling headquarters. In short, we need to sell because one owner now has controlling interest over the other two owners. This puts the OWAA budget at risk.
The goal of selling the headquarters condo has been difficult and will likely happen during Tony Dolle’s presidency. I’m confident that the Realtor will find a buyer, allowing headquarters to relocate to Fort Missoula. According to the agent, who has a background in commercial real estate financing, the biggest challenge a buyer will face is financing. During our upcoming board meeting, I will give a detailed report about selling the condo, as well as information about what to do if an potential buyer can’t obtain financing. I encourage everyone to sit in on a board meeting and watch your elected board members at work. Hopefully you will be able to attend conference and the annual business meeting, too.
Marketing OWAA has been and will continue to be a goal of mine. We need new members, not just for membership fees, but also for new ideas an too keep the association moving forward instead of standing still or sliding backwards. New members and supporters will provide the energy needed to grow a healthy, strong membership base.
While in Missoula, Robin, Ashley and I discussed some new ways to market OWAA on the Internet with the goal of attracting new members. The possibility of a multi-site marketing will give OWAA a far better reach on the Internet and enable us to hit certain keywords for potential members. Instead of relying on someone searching for “outdoor writers groups” we can target “boating writers groups” or “skiing writers groups,” for example. Our members should also help market OWAA by including links back to www.owaa.org from their sites. OWAA already provides links to its member’s Web pages.
It has been a tremendous pleasure and honor serving as your president. I look forward to volunteering for committees and helping where and when needed in the future. At age 50, there’s still a lot of volunteer left in me, especially after retirement in two short years!
If we all contribute just a little when we can, it adds up to a strong, healthy and relevant organization. ◊
John L. Beath is OWAA president and owner of Pacific Lure Communications. He is a writer/photographer and owner/editor of several websites and online stores. He is also an Internet marketing consultant for several businesses. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By John L. Beath