Long-Awaited Gathering Rescheduled

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.”– Francis of Assisi

submitted by Jill Kenik, APMM PRESIDENT 

What does the APMM have in common with the Winter X Games, Mobile World Conference, Facebook Developers Conference, and the Game Developers Conference?  We have all had to postpone big events because of the Coronavirus outbreak.  The APMM board has spent the past 15 months preparing for the big event and we are genuinely upset and disappointed not to be able to move ahead with our March Conference in Seattle.

Members of the APMM Board began watching the virus story unfold in Seattle in early February.  Right up until the governor of the state of Washington declared an emergency a couple weeks ago, we thought it was overblown media hype.  Really, there were only a hand-full of cases, right?  After hearing the announcement, I dug in deep to research the matter and was stunned to find that big players like Amazon and Microsoft had already cancelled major events, some as far off as May.  This was far more serious than I imagined.  In the wee hours of Saturday night, I realized we had a big problem—we could not risk the health of our membership by proceeding with this gathering.

Morning could not come fast enough, and the first communications with Samanthi and the APMM Board began before my first cup of Sunday morning coffee.  Throughout several telephone calls, each board member expressed concerns for member safety and impact on the APMM.  By late morning, it was clear that one of hardest decisions in the history of APMM had to be made, and by afternoon, the Board came together to postpone the Conference and begin the work of overcoming the obstacle.

While the Board placed member health and safety first, we had to figure out how to also keep the APMM running.  Unlike the Winter X Games, Microsoft, or Facebook, there is no fat bank account available to float the conference forward by several months.  Our budget is simple and barebones.  We pay Samanthi a modest part-time salary to do absolutely everything necessary to keep us functioning.  All sorts of clerical, managerial and planning tasks—anything and everything that the APMM does first passes through Sam.  She has been the one constant in our organization, and is the glue that holds our community together.  We also pay a monthly subscription on member management software, a one-stop tool that provides a platform for all the things that an organization needs to run: the website, email, communication blasts, membership lists, credit card processing—the whole business of the APMM runs from the MemberClicks AMS platform. 

Everything else that you see is done by member volunteers—designing t-shirts, making flyers, organizing the conference, writing and publishing the newsletter, running the forum, redesigning the website—there’s no fat in the budget to afford luxuries.  There is a simple APMM board mantra.. if something needs done, just get it done.  Make it, fix it, build it, or arrange a donation of it, but we are not going to buy it.  Like most small businesses, there is neither fluff nor undesignated emergency funds.  The APMM runs at the apex of lean.

On the income side of the APMM, our membership fees don’t come in quite high enough to cover the barebones annual expenses and we rely on our biennial Conference income to cover the big gap and float us out until the next gathering.  

You have figured out where this is going.  We have a problem.  Not insurmountable, but it requires more than the usual amounts of member commitment, more patience and more support. You cannot sit back right now and let some other member handle this. We have financial commitments and now a delayed supporting income.  Normally this all flushes out biennially at the March conference, but this year, things are different.

Every one of you that is reading this has benefited in some way from your membership in the APMM.  You would not be reading this if the case were otherwise.  Here is what you need to do (and not do) to help APMM recover from Coronavirus:

  1. Do not cancel your conference plans! It has been rescheduled for the weekend of Friday, October 23 through Monday, October 26, 2020. Your registration fees have been credited to the rescheduled conference; so come out, have a drink with your friends, nerd out over the latest tech, attend the outstanding workshops, enjoy and learn from the tours, experience a new city—do all the things you normally do at an APMM Conference.
  2. Reach out to another model maker or vendor that hasn’t been to a Conference in a while and encourage them to join us for the fall event. Or at least encourage them to renew their memberships and re-engage with our community.
  3. Share your favorite vendor with us!  We'll soon share ways that you can tell us about the fantastic vendors and suppliers you rely on to do your job.
  4. When the time comes to re-book your conference accommodations, do it at the APMM’s designated hotel, the University Inn. This is the make-it or break-it concern on the rescheduled conference.  Help us out here!  You will get complimentary breakfast with your friends, a great location, and a good room rate by booking the University Inn using our event code!  And there’s free sweet treats.
  5. Offer to help with some APMM tasks over the next few months.  Volunteer to present that workshop that you were a little too shy to arrange, share an idea with a Board Member, get involved in our Development Committee, make a small (or large) financial donation to APMM to help carry us forward to the fall. 

Member support over the past 10 days has been fantastic.  We want to thank our members for their support, open discussions and encouragement. Great things happen when the community comes together and connects. For this reason, we plan to present the Seattle conference in October. We are working with our conference partners to finalize the details and will share more information about our plans in the coming weeks. 

 Fasten your seatbelts (and wash your hands)!

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