WHAT DO WE DO? WHY DO WE EXIST? SOME THOUGHTS ON THE RCAF ASSOCIATION’S RAISON D’ÊTRE, FOR RECRUITERS AMONG US
This paper responds to important questions about the RCAF Association’s purpose: What do we do? Why do we pay membership dues? What, exactly, am I paying for? Can someone explain the benefits of membership? If I choose not to be a member, what would I be losing out on?
Every so often one of our members feels the need to ask important questions like these. There are many reasons for this. For example, directors (senior leaders) sometimes struggle with priorities, and at the heart of their struggle is the perceived need to focus more attention on one, such as advocacy, over others, such as air cadets. These priorities seem to be in competition. The true essence of the RCAF Association’s management problem, however, is this: strategic leaders are those who understand the dynamics of the entire system – how best to address all of the priorities striking a balance that reflects our purpose. Local (Wing) leaders, on the other hand, thrive when they focus not on the entire system, but more narrowly on only their local community concerns. This is the source of much dissonance, in our association today. This is where the rubber hits the road.
Each level of leadership views the RCAF Association through their own “stakeholder lens”. This more than anything today accounts for member mistrust, dissatisfaction, confusion and ultimately, disenfranchisement and eventual disengagement. Wing leaders no longer see themselves as representatives of the RCAF Association to their local fellow members. Instead, they devote themselves to serving as local managers of the Wing’s business affairs. Sadly, this business manager role is a tremendous conflict-of-interest since it is not actually covered in our constitution and by-laws. In fact, article 220.127.116.11 of the constitution mandates keeping the assets of the association and (incorporated, licensed) Wings separate. But because Wing leaders believe these business affairs to be their top priority a significant disconnect now exists between Wing and Association, today. We need our strategic leaders to spend more time sharing their understanding of the association’s value proposition – that being the thing that explains the core purpose of the RCAF Association – what we do, and why we do it. Answering the aforementioned important questions is as best a place to start as any.
Recently, a stalwart member raised these purpose-related questions. He and his Wing President were at odds over the issue. It seems the Wing President was only interested in collecting Wing dues, confident that that was the extent of his responsibilities. When it was suggested a more important job was to collect association dues, the President disagreed. To date, this Wing is one of four that have yet to submit membership dues. Two years ago, another Wing had failed to submit dues for the second year in a row. The Wing President decided dues funds were better spent on their Wing’s plumbing repairs.
This is a perfect example of the challenges of “diffused leadership”, a model of unrestricted leadership that diffuses or spreads complete leadership responsibilities throughout an organization, rather than exercising leadership solely from the top, and restricting delegation of responsibilities downward to select tasks and functions. As odd as it may sound, the frequency with which we have found it necessary to justify the RCAF Association’s existence has been on the rise mostly because our diffused leadership model has not benefited from continuous governance-oriented training, and this has contributed to these purpose-focused misunderstandings throughout the association.
This task of justifying the association was a great deal easier seventy years ago, when the RCAF Association was formed. We can attribute the success of those early days almost entirely to the homogeneity or sameness of members; virtually all of the members came from the ranks of demobilized and still-serving air force veterans after the Second World War. They all spoke the same language, and they all approached problems in the same way. The fact they shared a common identity and experiences (from their service) means they seem to have all been “cut from the same cloth.” Things are much different today; members come from many walks of life, beyond uniformed service, and the association’s “value proposition”, the benefits and privileges of membership, what members get for their money, is much less clear, and to some much less important. In order to understand today’s value proposition, it is helpful to acknowledge how the association began, who were its members, and in which directions the association evolved. Armed with this explanation, I’m hopeful members can come to an informed decision about the future of their membership in the RCAF Association.
What is a Member?
An important thing to clarify is what we mean by the term “member”. In legal definitions, mention is made of the verb “subscribe.” For example, “[a] membership organization refers to any organization that allows people to subscribe, and often requires them to pay a membership fee…”. In this context, the term “member” refers to “every person who agrees to become a member and whose name is entered on its register of members.” In essence, a member is someone who voluntarily agrees to become part of the group, and whose membership is approved by the group when he or she demonstrates their willingness to subscribe to the group’s raison d’être or purpose.
In an extensive RCAF Association survey published in 2016, to which 1,199 members responded, it was stated “in exchange for their annual dues members benefit from a unique package of products and services they themselves help design, as a consequence of their desire to help shape the future affairs of their association.” Of the 511 members who chose to respond to this question, only 50 felt “the definition did not describe to any degree what it means to be a member.” The remaining 501 supported the definition, with more than two-thirds claiming the definition described well, very close, or precisely what it means to be a member.
The act of subscribing, in the case of the RCAF Association, is enshrined in the vow or pledge individuals are requested to state or make, on joining the association. In summary, this paper is underscored with references to the term member, as being someone who has voluntarily subscribed to the core purpose of the RCAF Association, and has confirmed their agreement to do so on an annual basis by paying from their personal pocket/wallet the membership fees which are set by the members themselves, in exchange for a specific set of programs, products and services the members themselves have come to anticipate.
In the Beginning
Seventy-five years ago, in the final months of the Second World War, senior RCAF officers were already preparing for the end of hostilities. Air Marshal Lloyd S. Breadner believed forming an RCAF Association was essential. The RCAF Commander Air Marshal Robert Leckie was vehemently opposed to the idea, but Breadner won the day. Politicians publically admitted they did not know enough about what kinds of things and ideas would be important for a post-conflict RCAF. They did believe demobilized RCAF veterans could help their fellow Canadians understand future RCAF needs, and keeping them together was deemed important. Breadner leveraged these sentiments, convincing the government to support the need for an RCAF Association. In the event of another call-up Breadner felt recruiting would be helped if a message of need reached as many veterans as quickly as possible. This was early recognition of the importance of networks, and the ease with which one could communicate important messages when those in need of the message were relatively connected to one another. A component of our mission, therefore, is networking. Maintaining a network of air force veterans, as part of a community of supportive Canadians was a major part of the RCAF Association’s raison d’être. The seeds of the RCAF Association had been planted, and there were two very clear aspects to the organization’s purpose, one instrumental and one expressive.
Instrumental and Expressive Purposes
Whenever someone contemplates the decision to affiliate, without exception they ask two questions: what’s in it for me; and, what’s in it for the ‘good of the order.’ The former speaks to an expressive need; the latter speaks to an instrumental need. An instrumental purpose (or function) benefits everyone, including non-members. An expressive purpose, on the other hand, benefits only members. The instrumental purpose of the RCAF Association involves advocacy in support of Canada’s air force. The expressive purpose involved important social (personal) benefits that accrued to veterans who joined the association, especially to those who formed Wings in their communities.
This instrumental purpose of advocacy happens to be the association’s manifest function. I’ll explain more about manifest and latent functions in a moment. In 1948, in exchange for government financial support ($15,000 per year) the association agreed to give formal structure and professional attention to a civic duty to inform fellow Canadians about the kinds of things and ideas important for their country’s future air force capabilities. Yes, individual veterans could have tried to do this on their own. However, very few veterans actually understood fully what had happened to them in the war. And, even fewer had any idea how their own personal actions contributed to joint and combined success or even failure, beyond their own units, squadrons, campaigns and theatres. Consequently, just about everyone agreed advocacy was a function best performed collectively. Besides, not everyone was capable of articulating precise requirements, especially as aerospace technology became ever more complex and the atomic age unfolded. The benefits of collective action emphasized the importance of Wings, being those venues or co-ops in which members could meet to share their common identities and experiences with one another. Member meetings were key to getting the story straight; today, corporate strategic management, including grand strategy, depends to a large extent on the quality of a shared narrative. A better understanding of military capabilities came from debate and dialogue. Once the air force veterans’ narrative began to take shape, the association’s advocacy efforts only grew stronger. Success would not last, however, owing to the phenomenon of latent functions.
Manifest and Latent Functions
School or education systems help illustrate the difference between manifest and latent functions. The manifest function of a school system is to provide youngsters with an education so they eventually become productive contributing adults. The latent function of the school system, however, is to keep under-aged, untrained and uneducated young people out of the labour pool until they are ready. In terms of the RCAF Association, an important latent function concerns the veteran’s need for self-actualization – acknowledging the sacrifices of veterans, and helping air force veterans come to a better understanding of the context, and importance, of their individual contributions made while in uniform, in a way that bestows them with confidence and pride. Another latent function is to gather veterans keeping them close at hand to ease efforts to communicate with them. Many veterans returned from the war discouraged if not distressed. A significant number found it hard to comprehend the consequences and meaning of their actions in combat. Many blocked the memories. In some cases, especially with veterans of the strategic bombing campaign, many veterans surrendered to public abuse choosing to abandon every attachment to their wartime service and never mentioning it again. An important latent function, therefore, was to provide veterans companionship, camaraderie and identity, especially to those who were harmed, disfigured or simply disadvantaged as a consequence of their military service. Veterans who suffered mental anguish, physical injuries or social withdrawal benefited from a network of similarly minded men and women who provided them with programs, products and services that helped them reintegrate back into society. Again, helping veterans network together went a long way to alleviating some of these social challenges, and Wings have always been an important facilitating mechanism by which veterans could be brought together.
Advocacy and the Impact of Institutional Isomorphism
It should not come as a surprise that manifest and latent functions grew to compete with one another, and the RCAF Association’s leaders who took sides only contributed to the problem. By 1999, the annual membership in the RCAF Association rose to just short of 17,000. During the first fifty years, close to 40,000, or about one-quarter of all RCAF veterans at one time or another had joined the association. Not all of them joined to be part of advocacy efforts, however. In his book Been There, Done That bomber command (408 Squadron) veteran and post-war General Manager of the RCAF Association (1970-’76) Wing Commander Ron Butcher, DFC, explained the dramatic downfall of 700 (Edmonton) Wing, in the early to mid-1970s. Butcher described a very discouraging “castle revolution” that saw the association’s largest Wing decline from over 1,000 members to less than 200, because the members “only wanted to be just like the local Legion Branch and wanted no part of the advocacy mission.” This uprising came as a consequence of the RCAF Association’s National President Air Commodore (Retired) Alex Jardine’s mid- to late-1960s efforts to motivate every Wing to establish an advocacy (Air Force) library, in their Wings. Jardine’s efforts came as the government’s unification and integration legislation was underway, legislation that saw the dissolution of the RCAF itself. In the wake of the RCAF’s dissolution, Butcher and the Executive Council conceived of the need to expand advocacy efforts to include civilian aerospace interests. This would have been a first for Canada, and it would have been entirely consistent with the very meaning of “national air power”, but not everyone in the RCAF Association agreed, as the example of 700 Wing tends to show.
In his book titled, Creating Value for Members: A Strategic Guide for Associations, author Donald Belfall explains how difficult it is for associations to prove their value. The problem lies with activities or functions like advocacy which are overwhelmingly intangible. Belfall says, “members will typically pay for quality if it meets their needs, if they understand it, and if it is tangible.” Led by Jardine, the association’s leaders responded to the government’s unification and integration legislation by emphasizing the most intangible and misunderstood benefit of membership – advocacy – in support of and for an air force that for all intents and purposes no longer existed. These were very challenging times, made all the more challenging by another of the Association’s responses, of 1969-1970, involving the creation of the “Associate” member category – a non-paying (free) category that came with negative conditions, and for people with no military experience who would have no say (vote) nor any rights to run for office in the association.
There is one more aspect to the 700 Wing revolt that needs to be addressed. The Edmonton Wing’s preference for being “like the local Royal Canadian Legion (branch)” was entirely natural, and was an example of institutional isomorphism – the economic market phenomenon whereby firms in similar markets copy each other’s good practices believing that doing so will bring them economic success, too. In this particular case, the 700 Wing’s leaders were content to only be a small-business provincially-licensed hospitality-focused venue providing bar and restaurant services to patrons some of whom happened to be members of the RCAF Association.
By this time (early 1970s) a special form of change was sweeping through the association – change that reflected the demise of the RCAF and the beginnings of a decline in veteran interest in associating with organizations like the Legion and the RCAF Association. It is worth noting that Wings were created not for their economic value, since that was entirely inconsistent with the association’s not-for-profit status. Instead, Wings were created for their social value, or their ability to bring air force veterans together with Canadians. What this means, however, is that Wings determined to make a profit, focusing on economic value, run into problems related to trying to cover costs strictly through membership fees. In 2013, for example, we discovered one Wing was charging Associate members $95 per year, all of which went to the Wing, while Regular members in the same Wing were paying only $70, $49 of which covered the RCAF Association cost.
It almost seems the events of the late 1960s were too much to bear. The RCAF as an institution, was gone, the homogeneity of membership was a thing of the past now that non-paying “Associate” members were coming on board, and the broadening of advocacy efforts across a wider spectrum of military and non-military aerospace concerns put such efforts further out of reach for more and more members. It is no surprise that the one remaining priority – Air Cadets – took on more importance. The diffused nature of the association’s leadership meant local leaders focused almost exclusively on running the Wing’s hospitality business, presumably to shore up support for the local cadet unit. As it turns out a great many Wing businesses were aligned with local cadet units. A national focus became both irrelevant and beyond reach.
A local focus understandably placed more emphasis on local stakeholders – those impacted by the local actions of the Wing, or whose actions could impact the Wing at the community level. Stakeholder theory explains these natural tendencies, but also explains the costs. In our case, all advocacy efforts became the soul purview of a small sub-committee of the national executive council, leading many grassroots members to simply lose sight of our purpose. Since Wing leaders now focused exclusively at the community level, core (veteran) members complained this focus was “too inward-looking”, as the association’s new General Manager J. Douglas Harvey, DFC (1976-1979) explained. In response to these needs, Airforce magazine was conceived in 1977. The magazine was seen as a tangible message-delivery method answering to all members’ needs, including intangible needs like advocacy and self-actualization. Produced correctly, the magazine had the potential of informing members, advocating for the air force, preserving air force traditions, promoting members’ activities and recruiting prospects into the organization.
Did the association’s members value the magazine? To answer that question, we need to consider two important aspects to the concept of “value”, in the context of association management: first, leaders are solely responsible for value generation; and, secondly, value can only be measured from the members’ perspective. As regards the first, this emphasis on leadership responsibility highlights why “servant leadership” has become one of the more essential and successful leadership styles in the not-for-profit sector. When coupled with the need for self-actualization amongst our unique population of veterans, it should be abundantly clear the ideal approach to leadership in the RCAF Association would see a mix of emotional-intelligence and servant-leadership style methods. There are strong indications our leaders may be lacking one or both, preferring, instead, leadership styles learned through other activities, or styles very poorly mimicked for all the wrong reasons. What kind of style are we referring to? The RCAF Association Handbook conveys a hint. In the handbook, significant emphasis is placed on the efficacy of the corporate hierarchy, and the three-tiered structure of the association being the most successful structures from the mid-20th century. Regrettably, the things that made the hierarchy so effective in 1950 were largely discredited by the late 1970s, and the hierarchy has no credibility anymore. We have learned a great deal about other governance structures, processes and leadership styles, as a society, but the RCAF Association’s leaders seem incapable of graduating to the next level, beyond the “command and control” mentality that defines their reliance on the hierarchical.
The association’s leaders are primarily responsible for generating value. Belfall explains, “the association unto itself is not what members value.” Far more important is what the association achieves. Members subscribe not to the association, but to the association’s purpose. People actively search for something to join that is much bigger than themselves. They long to be part of something significant, and important. And, members have a right to shape the future affairs of their association. This may involve defining and deciding upon new and important initiatives, but the ultimate decision as to how the association’s limited resources are to be allocated rests entirely with the association’s leaders (board of directors) who alone and together have the power and responsibility (the fiduciary) to do so. In this way, members decide what should be done in response to their own important needs, but leaders throughout the association are tasked with getting the job done.
Value is not what leaders perceive; it is what members perceive. Value is based on the results or outcomes of the actions leaders take. Value is defined as “the benefits relative to cost that a member receives from their relationship with the association.” It will involve both monetary and non-monetary components. Value is also “dependent on the perception of the total cost of purchase and the usage of what is acquired.” Finally, a member may derive monetary value from one of the association’s products, like Airforce magazine, but the same member may also derive significant non-monetary value since they are proud of their country’s air force heritage and their association’s ability to publish the magazine – something that can only result not from his or her individual membership fee contribution but from the collective contributions of all members. Herein lay the components of the value proposition.
So What Do Members Value?
It should be clear different members value different things. It should also be clear the RCAF Association has never taken the time to parse these differences so as to construct a plan specifically designed to offer products, programs and services tailored to each different segment of members. This may have been too difficult, in the past, or it may have simply been deemed entirely unnecessary. Remember, for example, the homogeneity that described our earliest membership cohort; from the beginning our association had but only one “segment.” Today, things are much different. The conservative nature of associations and our early member homogeneity (sameness) accounts for both explanations, respectively. Belfall explains the former, claiming “new management practices and ways of thinking are not easily integrated into a conservative organization’s culture,” and, “diffused leadership is NO leadership when it comes to implementing change, or any other proactive association activities for that matter” in such organizations. A review of the RCAF Association’s strategic outlooks, over 70 years, proves Belfall’s case, demonstrating the RCAF Association has had a pronounced aversion to change. Our “aims and objects” have remained largely unchanged, simply reorganized or re-prioritized in a manner that conveyed no real impetus to do anything differently. Shuffling the aims and objects around, served only to masquerade as strategic change, when in fact nothing ever really changed whatsoever.
Why is this so? In for-profit organizations the focus is on the organization’s customers. In not-for-profit organizations the focus is supposed to be on the organization’s purpose. But, we have already explained that purpose, in the not-for-profit sector, is entirely in the eye of the beholding leader – each different leader perceives the organization’s purpose differently. Leaders at all levels feel beholden to the organization, through their own proximate stakeholder-lens. In organizations that have never conducted orientation and governance training, this purpose-related dissonance only goes uncorrected. Since this is the case – since there are many different views, and many different services, etc…it is important that we describe all of the programs, products, services and benefits – tangible and intangible – in a manner that demonstrates to what end (purpose) these activities are supposedly linked.
Ends, Ways and Means – The RCAF Association Strategy
Our association magazine is the means by which our messages are transmitted. Airforce magazine replaced Wings at Home (1968 to 1976), which in turn had replaced Wings in Space (1962 to 1968). Transmission of our messages is for the benefit of members and non-members alike, keeping in mind our founding advocacy agreement to help inform and educate interested Canadians about the kinds of things and ideas that would be important for their country’s air force. Since the magazine constituted the means by which our message was conveyed, the ways by which we do so are defined by the magazine’s departments or sections. For example, “Feature Stories”, “Advocacy”, “Cadets”, “Book Reviews”, “Association News”, “Guest Editorials”, and “NOTAMs” (Notices-to-Airmen/Women) are some of the departments or ways by which our message is conveyed.
Knowing these are the magazine-enabling ways and means, what might be the “ends” we are seeking? “Ends”, or outcomes, may include an informed audience possibly measured in magazine sales, article sales and other digital and print subscription requests. Additionally, member retention is a measure of the magazine’s utility, to the extent it satisfies individual member self-actualization needs described earlier. A 90 percent retention or renewal rate is an example of an outcome or key-performance-indicator (KPI). Other outcomes could include the number of individuals wishing to contribute to the magazine. Finally, “Letters to the Editor” and other various testimonials are helpful indicators by which strategic leaders can gauge the utility and success of the magazine.
In summary, Airforce magazine serves our instrumental purpose of informing members and non-members about the kinds of things and ideas that contribute to our military air power security. The magazine also serves our expressive purpose since it is a vehicle by which individual members’ views and histories can be shared, through appreciative inquiry methods for their benefit and that of their fellow members, especially those who may have completed their service without comprehending the true nature and scope of their contributions, to the country’s interests and security. It is important to acknowledge the role narrative plays, in defining the country’s development. If no one takes the time to tell these air force focused stories this becomes a component missing from Canada’s own narrative. Where narrative is lacking, so, too, ambition, motivation, and imagination.
Information and Communication Products, Programs and Services
Materiel provided by these means primarily serve members’ expressive needs. However, when produced for external consumption (for the benefit of all Canadians, for example) they can also serve instrumental requirements. RCAF Association e-News, Legislative Alerts and Updates, the RCAF Association Web-site, Social Media, Information & Research Services, Membership Directory, Mailing Lists, Access to Publications and Reports, and Peer Directories all describe various programs, products and services specifically tailored for providing information members deem important. Keeping in mind the important function of aiding self-actualization, access to relevant information helps members gain a sense of accomplishment and meaning, in terms of their air force experiences. In many respects, some of the information can prove to be helpful even to members who may not have an air force background, but who understand the relevance and importance of that information and serve as conduits for the veterans and members in their own community. Such products, in the hands of members, serve members’ expressive needs – they are of benefit only to the member. Armed with up-to-date information relevant to practitioners in their chosen (air force) field, members continue to believe they are playing an active and important role, in their field.
Affiliation and Identity
The act of affiliating with one group or another can be beneficial to oneself, and it can also be of benefit to wider society. When the individual joining the group possesses an abundance of capital – financial, social, intellectual, etc… – the group is not the only element to benefit. For example, imagine an RCAF Association the strategic leadership for which cannot boast of any experience or expertise in heavy air transport procurement. When the former commander of Air Transport Group chooses to join, that experience gap is closed, somewhat, and the RCAF Association benefits from the individual’s intellectual and social capital, but so do all Canadians with a vested interest in this component of their country’s national air power. There are various means by which the association can facilitate the affiliation process, by helping emphasize the individual’s identity and experiences which happen to be common to others in the association. Proprietary Domain Name E-mail Addresses, membership in Special Interest Groups, participation in Advocacy and Government Affairs, Connections to Similar Associations, Job Referrals, and Group Purchasing Programs are some of the programs, products and services that come with membership in the RCAF Association. To RCAF veterans, membership in the association seems like a natural extension of their uniformed service, and an affirmation of their identity. To non-RCAF persons, membership in the association is an identity in and of itself, in their community. This latter reality can be a double-edged sword, if not managed appropriately. Members from this latter group who pursue membership strictly for personal identity are often those who overlook or ignore the association’s purpose owing to a more myopic focus. Governance and orientation training become critical, with such members.
Democracy and Community
One of the most relevant and important purposes served by non-profit associations, from their beginnings in the early 19th century, is the society-wide benefit of helping people to learn how to be active contributing participants in a democratic society. Leadership, Holding Office, Elections, Honours and Awards, and Community Service are the programs, products and services made directly and indirectly available as a consequence of one’s decision to affiliate with the RCAF Association. Such opportunities are not taken lightly, by those who join. In fact, the vast majority of those who choose to affiliate with an organization do indeed recognize the personal benefits of joining, but they also tend to see the wider benefits – benefits to others and to society – that comes with their personal decision to join. Being part of a group of similarly-minded individuals goes a long way to affirming an individual’s sense of worth, accomplishment and duty.
Residual and Personal Benefits
Advertising opportunities, Sponsorship/Financial Support for Special Events, General Meetings, Conventions and Trade Shows, Affinity Programs and Access to Federal and Provincial Grant Programs are the kinds of things that come with affiliation. Quite often the RCAF Association head office has been asked by provincial legislation staff personnel to vouch for or provide credentials and credibility for Wings in which leaders have applied for provincial grants and support. Having this national validation has led to success, for many of the RCAF Association’s wings in Ontario, the Maritimes and in British Columbia. The same can be said for Wings who attempt to secure some degree of financial support (sponsorship) from aerospace industry companies established in their communities. Where such applications are made through the national office, more funds have tended to be made available. Alternatively, where such applications have not leveraged national validation, less funds or declines have been the result.
When the RCAF Association holds regional and national meetings, the profile of the association receives a boost. The decline of the association, however, has rendered these programs and services much less effective. Currently, the General Meeting take-up is less than 45 percent of the available Wings, meaning a quorum is in serious doubt, and the visibility the RCAF Association could benefit from will simply not materialize.
What’s in it For Me? What’s in it For the Good-of-the-Order?
When a member writes their own air force story, or when a non-air force member writes a story about their fellow air force member, the member doing the writing benefits from the story’s inclusion in Airforce magazine. An unpublished story serves almost no purpose; a published story automatically becomes a piece of the nation’s air force fabric, helping to complete an honourable and compelling national narrative. The impact on the subject individual is also enormous, bringing honour and understanding where before neither may have materialized. It is entirely possible today most members take for granted the magazine made possible by the association, and this population never bothers to read it when it comes out. But, the magazine belongs to the members, and it serves a special purpose for that part of our membership that happen to inspire us the most.
A veteran who learns anew from friends and family the extent to which they may actually be revered and respected, is an example to many others who may have been similarly deprived in days past. Only when such veterans are given the opportunity to dialogue with their peers do they grow in strength, and draw inspiration from each other. These are the services Wings can offer, especially those whose local populations are similarly minded and who offer the financial support helping to sustain the local venue. Members of the local population who understand the impact of their collective collaboration feel enriched by the experiences, even though as non-air-force persons they are unable to share such common identities and experiences. Philanthropy and charity comes in many forms, but only leaders are able to convince others how what they desire can be translated into ways of helping our members.
Together, the RCAF Association is able to leverage individual membership fees, charitable donations, sponsorship agreements, royalty payments, and event management resources in ways that bring all of these programs, products and services to bear for the benefit of a very special group of Canadians – veterans young and old, active and retired, able-bodied or otherwise. We can only do so if each and every one of us sees all of these activities for what they really are meant to be – selfless acts ostensibly performed for the benefit of a group of Canadians the very health of which is directly linked to the well-being of our country. The programs, products and services offered must align to such a purpose, but not all of us understand this. In order to get this right, we need leadership.