The American Numismatic Association does many things very well.
It is the premier numismatic education resource, with a multitude of opportunities for anyone interested in coins and paper money. The annual World’s Fair of Money is the best coin show in the nation and its annual auctions rank as a highlight of the year. The museum in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the traveling exhibits of its collection are among the nation’s finest. Headquarters is staffed by an excellent group of individuals dedicated to making the ANA the best it can be.
There is one thing, however, the ANA has not accomplished in the last couple of decades — marketing itself effectively.
As everyone knows, there has been a tremendous boom in numismatics in recent years. The States quarter dollar program and the advent of the Internet brought millions of new collectors to the hobby. Several private numismatic firms in the country have hundreds of thousands of active customers.
In the same time period, the membership of the ANA has actually fallen somewhat. With membership currently less than 30,000, the organization is clearly not getting its message across. With online membership now available for just $28 per year, it is the bargain of the century for anyone interested in collecting and numismatic fellowship.
In recent weeks the ANA has been working with staff members of the United States Mint to explore ways to expand membership. This arrangement would be of great benefit to both organizations. Many customers of the United States Mint would have the opportunity to discover more about the world of numismatics. There is no doubt that an educated customer is more likely to become more involved in our hobby.
The ANA needs to increase its membership numbers in order to fulfill its educational missions. Hopefully, working together we can bring more individuals into the hobby, and more importantly, keep them engaged. The relationship is in its early stages, but with the customer base of the United States Mint, this could be an exciting development for the association.
The staff and board of governors of the ANA must continue to look for ways to expand membership. Another outreach program that is in the works involves the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. In the spring of 2015 the museum will be opening a new, expanded numismatic exhibit. The Smithsonian staff is busy planning the exhibit and deciding which coins to display and what stories to tell.
Discussions have been taking place about the possibility of creating an ANA docent program at the Smithsonian. ANA volunteers could, on a rotating basis, be on hand to bring the exhibit to life by expanding on the stories of the legendary coins on display. Visitors interested in knowing more could pick up an ANA membership application as they leave the exhibit.
These are just a few ideas that will be needed for the ANA to grow in the future. The staff and board are committed to expanding membership and bringing its wonderful resources to more collectors. Anyone with ideas is encouraged to contact the ANA staff or any member of the ANA board.
Jeff Garrett is vice president of the American Numismatic Association.