RCNA remains stable in spite of pandemic

By Jesse Robitaille

Despite the unprecedented cancellation of its annual convention this year, the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (RCNA) remains active in planning for a future beyond the pandemic.

The cancellation of the RCNA’s flagship event was top of mind for officials at this year’s annual general meeting (AGM), which was held virtually – another first for the group – on Oct. 15. About 35 of the RCNA’s roughly 1,200 members tuned in to the recent AGM to discuss, among other things, the pandemic’s impact on Canadian numismatics.

“Obviously, we lost revenue from the cancelled convention this year,” said RCNA Executive Secretary Paul Johnson, who added the RCNA ended its fiscal year in June with a $2,600 loss.

The cancellation of this year’s RCNA Convention also meant forgoing the annual club delegates meeting; however, officials are hoping to co-ordinate a delegates meeting virtually via Zoom in the coming months.

“That will bring together representatives from coin clubs all across the country, and we thought it was a great idea,” said Johnson, a Toronto resident, who added the virtual format could draw far-flung RCNA members who might be unable to attend the convention.

The video-conferencing technology has also given a boost to the RCNA’s executive, which has met – albeit virtually – almost twice as often this year compared to past years.

“Normally, in a regular year, we have three executive board meetings: one is at the RCNA Convention, one is normally at Torex and another is normally at the ONA Convention in the spring,” said Johnson, who added officials can now meet regularly with no geographic limitations. “We’ll have five meetings this year – we needed a couple of extra meetings to talk about the COVID situation – to determine, ‘How do we go forward?’”

Other RCNA committees, including the national convention committee chaired by Calgary’s James Williston, have also met virtually this year.

“We’re having more communication now than ever before using Zoom, and I think that’s one of the better things to come out of this whole mess – our communication with one another is better.”

Membership numbers between this year and last year also increased slightly, something that comes as a welcome relief to an organization with an aging demographic.

“Membership is stabilized, and that’s a good thing. Members are renewing, but we’re also getting a lot of new members,” said Johnson, who pointed to increased personal leisure time during the pandemic as the main driver of interest. “People are looking for something to do with their time, and that has converted into new memberships for the RCNA.”

The RCNA has also maintained its volunteer base responsible for filling executive roles and managing various committees, including the youth program, which was recently renamed “Kids n’ Coins.”

“As youth co-ordinator, I’m concerned about how young collectors are handling the pandemic,” said Cassidy Stroud, who has served as the RCNA’s national youth co-ordinator since 2019. “We don’t want them to lose interest in the hobby when there are no shows to attend.”

Unable to host under-18 auctions at shows this year, Stroud has shifted her attention to new youth-focused initiatives, including updating the Kids n’ Coins webpage.

One RCNA service helping to prop up the organization in troubled times is its bimonthly publication, the Canadian Numismatic Journal, which is distributed to all members.

“It’s a quality publication, and I think it’s attracting members to stay with the organization and pick up new members as well,” said Johnson, who commended editor Henry Nienhuis, who’s also the RCNA’s past president, for his work.

“We seem to constantly get emails and phone calls from members saying that they really enjoy the publication.”

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