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Upcoming Changes in NAFI Publications Efforts
Looking Back-Looking Forward 
From NAFI Executive Director Jason Blair
Last month commemorated my fourth anniversary as the executive director of NAFI. In fact, my first official meeting with the NAFI Board of Directors was at the Sporty's Fly-In in May, and for the fourth year, NAFI was again at the event. This year we presented the NAFI Flight Instructor Hall of Fame trophy to the 2012 inductee, Rudy Frasca.
The annual Sporty's Fly-In has become an anniversary celebration for me. And these four years have certainly included many changes at NAFI and in the overall flight-training community. I believe in my time at NAFI we have improved some of our services and have increased the influence we have with other associations and governmental agencies. NAFI is engaged in a wide variety of aviation discussions and efforts that directly affect the flight-training community, and especially flight instructors. I personally have spent a great deal of time working on legislative issues, working on training and testing process development and revision, working with governmental agencies on behalf of instructors, and interacting with training providers around the country. 
The ability to do this work does not come without cost. It costs NAFI, and in many cases some of the members of the NAFI board and I personally have contributed our own funds to travel on behalf of the organization and its members to meetings, events and conferences. Our ability to do more is sometimes limited by NAFI's financial ability to support the travel. The job we do as flight instructors is not getting easier, and there is more pressure being put on us. The same is true of NAFI. Over the next year we are going to continue to evaluate all of the membership benefits, how we manage and produce the publication of content to members - in print and electronically - and how we work with industry partners and supporters.
We are always working to try to provide the best mix of membership benefits that can be provided for the $49 per year membership cost. This isn't always easy. As we look at the model of how we make NAFI work, we are careful with how we spend membership dollars. The reality is that membership dues alone cannot support all that NAFI does. To deliver Mentor magazine accounts for about $31.00 of the $49.00 membership cost. Production, renewal mailing notifications, and the membership packet we send to each of you accounts for about another $7.50. That amounts to nearly $39.00 of the $49.00 memberships dues without even beginning to pay for staff, facilities overhead, the website, travel, representing members at events, etc. I think you get the picture.
The hope is that NAFI can raise additional funds to support other efforts through advertising and corporate supporter revenues; something that has not grown in the past year. There are some companies that don't think the cost of supporting NAFI and communicating to you is valuable to them. Even though NAFI has had great support from a few industry partners (you see them in the NAFI corporate supporters list on the NAFI web page) but these are not enough. Many potential partners in the industry have been reluctant to come on board with support for NAFI because they don't see a value in reaching the flight-instructor community or don't think that instructors in general are important to getting their products or services noticed.
If you think they are wrong, you need to tell them and show them. As a member of NAFI, if you think they should support the efforts of your association, tell them. This is the only way your association will grow in numbers, influence and its ability to provide more benefits to members. 
With that as background we have decided to make two significant changes to improve our position. First, we are not going to be spending valuable membership funds on purchasing an expensive booth at major trade shows, beginning with AirVenture 2012. We know that members like to see us there and we like interacting with you, but this is an event at which we have historically seen gross revenues of less than $5,000, while costs for the booth space, travel, lodging and staff exceed $15,000. You don't pay for membership in NAFI just to feel good about us being at a "show," you join for information and support, so we are going to use your membership funds to support those efforts first. Second, we are going to be changing the delivery strategy of our publications, Mentor and eMentor. Beginning in July you will start receiving eMentor weekly. The new weekly eMentor's goal is to provide you with news and instructional content in a digital format. On the print publication side, we will be expanding Mentor from 32 pages to 40 pages, but will deliver it quarterly instead of monthly. The cost of publishing, printing and mailing a magazine each month without more advertising and sponsorship support from the aviation industry is not sustainable for NAFI.
With these changes, we will be delivering more content, just in different formats and frequency. These changes may take a little getting used to, but we hope you will find them beneficial in the long run. 
NAFI remains committed to providing valuable resources, information, and representation to our members. As our economies change, we must change our association.
Four years into this job, I believe even more strongly than the day I started that the role of the flight instructor is vital to aviation. Our abilities and skills are under-appreciated. Painfully, I think that some of the reason that our service to aviation industry is undervalued is that we haven't shown the rest of the industry what we really do. We haven't helped them understand the importance of our contribution. Last time I checked, there were only a few people who have managed to learn to fly without the help of a flight instructor, notably a couple guys named Wright. Flight instructors are a very important part of the industry, and your association can only grow and get stronger if you help recruit more members and tell others that their support for NAFI is critical.
As I look to the next year here as your executive director, it is my goal to work to try to provide the best membership benefits, representation on behalf of instructors and service to the instructor community we can within our budget. Help us expand all of these areas by telling at least one instructor you know who isn't a member to join and by telling the producers of products and services you use in your instructional efforts to support the association.  My job is to provide the best service and resources I can to members within the resources we have available to us. You have my commitment that this is what I will do.