May 2020 Air Power History President’s Message and State of the Foundation
As we approach a new AFHF fiscal year on 1 June, the Foundation has not been immune to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on American society. Our annual membership meeting and luncheon was postponed, and your Board has transitioned to virtual meetings; fall activities are still very lightly penciled on the calendar. Most importantly, I join other AFHF leaders in wishing you and your families good health and good spirits as we all overcome challenges and recover a sense of normalcy.
In addition to postponing our annual meeting to avoid unnecessary risk to members and participants, these challenges make it sensible to retain the current Board in position until such time when a proper election can be held. We will give you ample notification once a date has been set.
By tradition at the close of each fiscal year the Foundation President delivers a “State of the Foundation Report” to let you all know where we stand, financially and otherwise. In financial terms, your Foundation had a reasonably successful year. Our main goal for 2019-2020 was to solidify our revenue stream, sustaining our ability to seek out and share an accurate and honest account of our Air Force’s history. To that end I can report some successes.
I am pleased to report that the Doolittle Awards presentation and Awards Banquet in the fall of 2019 proved to be our most successful ever. Defense industry and other organization financial support was at its highest level in many years, and every seat in the ballroom was sold out, demonstrating the tremendous interest, support and generosity of partners and membership alike. In addition, we were most fortunate to receive a substantial bequest from an unusual veteran who served as a pilot in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross and three Bronze stars for his skill and gallantry. We are proud to have had him as a long-time Foundation member and are grateful to him and his family for their faithful support. Together, these two items mitigated the extraordinary market turbulence of the last few months and have helped keep our financial picture nominal, if not inspirational.
The Foundation again participated in the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference last fall, with a booth featuring books, magazines, and video programs. Our presence was well received by the attendees and suggests that Foundation membership growth potential definitely exists. If conditions permit AFA to host this major event as planned in September, AFHF will be there. Beyond this outreach, we have begun active discussion with leaders in the Department of the Air Force, the Air Force Museum and its Foundation, and the Air Force Association to define ways we can collaborate to support the upcoming 75th Anniversary of the USAF in 2022. Among the potentially unique AFHF contributions under consideration are an update of the “USAF – A Complete History” last published in 2006, and another project yet to be fully scoped.
Our outreach via social media continues its steady growth. We now have over 950 recipients for our daily “This Day in Air Force History” emails, nearly 1800 Twitter Followers, and Facebook followers reach nearly 5,600 for each post. Our JSTOR archives have been heavily sought during the last few months, reflecting increased scholarly interest. All in all, we are seeing movement toward successful monetization of these efforts in the form of a Membership increase in our Associate (online) category.
To leverage these and other efforts, we continue to search for both a professional fund raiser and a grant writer to help articulate AFHF’s value. Either or both could be highly valuable to us but finding the right fit and price remain elusive.
We will soon begin a dialog with leaders of the new U. S. Space Force to determine the scope and nature of AFHF’s relationship with the USSF. Continuing airpower’s spectacular tradition of innovation—well documented in the pages of our journal—the two Services now belonging to the Department of the Air Force possess a proud shared history and critically important futures to our nation’s defense. It’s important that the Foundation helps bring the wisdom of the past to the “aerospace” decisions of the future. Our founders, the giants of American air and space power, would expect no less.
I ask for your continued active support—in ideas, time, donations, or just forwarding “This Day in Air Force History” to others who might find the Foundation’s work interesting and worthy of support. The day I write this update, my wife and I signed documents including AFHF in our estate planning, and I encourage you to do the same if America’s Air Force and its history merit your legacy support. In the meantime, your Board and staff pledge to keep the Foundation on the move and worthy of your interest and investment.
With best regards,
Christopher D. Miller, USAF (Ret)
President and Chairman of the Board