Re: CPN Needs much improvement with handling memberships

From: Rick Walker (
Date: Fri May 14 1999 - 21:26:50 PDT

Date: Fri, 14 May 1999 21:26:50 -0700
From: Rick Walker <>
Message-Id: <aabcdefg1679$foo@default>
Subject: Re: CPN  Needs much improvement with handling memberships

> "Michael Hunt" <> writes:
> I really didn't want to post this here, because it deals with my dues.
> But after thinking, it deserves to be covered by everyone involved
> with the ICPS. I have not been a member of the CPN for a few years.
> Yet my history with the ICPS/CPN goes back to the beginning. I sent
> my dues in on Feb. 13, 1999. Realizing I wouldn't get the March
> issue. Yet as of this date the check hasn't cleared the bank.

Dear Michael,

I currently handle the memberships. The amount of traffic is staggering.
Up to date this year, I have processed about 3 feet worth of mail (about
900 individual letters). To handle this load, I am now processing it in
batches just prior to the deadline for each quarterly mailing.

> Maybe it never even was received? I don't know. I tried to contact a
> source on May 3rd to find out the status of my membership. Again I
> realize its certainly not a top priority, but I have not received a
> reply.

While I am processing mail, it is very awkward to answer these questions.
I cut open the envelopes in batches and sort the mail by categories. At
a given time, I may have 12" tall stacks of sorted mail. If your request
has not yet been entered into the database, then answering your question
would require manually looking through hundreds of unprocessed requests,
possibly destroying the collation between checks, cash and membership

I receive over 100 emails per day, and I (embarrassed to say), must often
prioritize my mail to be able to competently handle my professional
duties. Mail such as yours will generally get printed out and put on
the stack to be processed. When I finish each quarter's mail, I will
usually reply to any outstanding inquiries.

> While talkng with other members about this matter they all say
> the samething, "Oh it takes forever and a day!" While this has always
> been true. I never remember it being this bad.

Are you volunteering to help? I could use someone with good computer
database savvy, and accounting experience, who is willing to work about
10 hours a week on an ongoing basis for free.

My experience is that up to 3-months is quite a common delay for small
one-man businesses, or other non-profit groups. "allow 6-8 weeks" is a
standard disclaimer. Add to that our 1-month mail delay through our
drop-box, and you are right at 3 months.

> If we as a group are going to be moving in a more recongized worldwide
> organzation this situtaion must be improved dramaticlly and should IMO
> be a top priority. After all we are talking about the collecting of
> funds that do and will operate the soceity. With the other clubs and
> societies I'm a member of (and some are slow) none are as bad as it
> appears to have become with the ICPS.

Our society is in a very awkward stage. We are currently too small to
afford professional help for membership processing, and we are so big
that the job tends to completely burn out our volunteers. The last two
coordinators resigned their positions, in part due to the workload, and
in part due to a feeling that many members were ungrateful of the huge
committment of time required to do the job.

> Most people, business, organzations have no problem collecting funds.
> I know I certainly don't :-) This isn't meant to be a nasty post, no
> far from it. Its still my understanding that collection of membership
> information is done on a voluntary basis. Its a large work load. I
> doubt there are people standing in line for this position. But can't
> we try and get some idea's going on rectifying this problem?

We are certainly working in that direction. When our non-profit status
is finally done, we can consider seeking donations or grants to pay
for a staff position.

So until then, here's the scoop:

Anyone who renews before the end of each year is guaranteed to have
unbroken service. Anyone who renews or subscribes in the middle of
the year will not have their mail processed until just before the next
quarterly mailing. Back issues require extra work and will come in perhaps
a month after the next quarterly mailing.

Your check mailed Feb. 13, 1999 most certainly arrived too late for the
March issue (as you surmised). I still have approximately 15 hours of
work to do before processing all the pending mail for the June issue
mailing deadline. There is a good chance that your check is in the
"hopper". Please contact me again if you have not receive your issue by

And by all means, please renew next year prior to the end of the year.
This is the only way to assure unbroken service, and to avoid making
much extra work for me by causing backorder paperwork. Another kindness
would be to subscribe for 2 or 3 years at a time. This directly reduces
the workload for me at each renewal cycle.

The mailing list for each CPN comes with a member number of the form:

    Rick Walker 4531-1999
    2060 Oberlin St.
    Palo Alto, CA 94306

The "4351" part is your member number. The "1999" is the year that you
are paid through to. If you send in a multi-year membership, then please
check to make sure that the expiration date is properly updated. This
is both your confirmation and your reminder.

kind regards,

Rick Walker

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