Dxpedition donations or How You Paid for my Summer Vacation

In a previous post I mentioned donations to DXpeditions. I wish to expand on my thoughts of them at this time. First off, I want to clarify that I have no problem with any DXpedition soliciting donations. Where I disagree with it is when donations become expected or preferential treatment is given to those who donate. I once saw a press releases for a DXpedition stating that so many dollars is expected from donations to help finance the effort. The fact that anybody can consider taking a trip of this magnitude tells me that you have more time and money than I have. Also, if you don’t have enough funds to take the trip, then don’t go. I, for one, don’t really care whether you go or not.

I always hear that the guys and gals who do this say that they’re “doing this to provide a new one”. Really? So without you, I’ll never progress up the DXCC ladder? Sounds a little arrogant to me. You’re not doing it for me. You’re doing it to have rock star status at ham fests for the next few years. This may come as a surprise to you but the person who signs my paycheck doesn’t care how many DXCC “countries” I have. Also, I never been asked in a job interview if I’m on DXCC Honor Roll.

A DX club that I was a member of once donated to a major DXpedition using my dues money. Well, I was out of town for 95% of the time it was on and when I was able to get a chance to try to work them, I didn’t have good propagation to them. So my dues money was wasted.

Today most major DXpeditions have what’s known as OQRS, Online QSL Request System. It’s set up to request a QSL card without having to send your own. Of course you have to pay for it and the minimum is $5. I’ve been mailing direct QSL’s with SASE’s for 14 years so let’s break down the cost of doing so.  We’ll use a QSL Manager in Germany as an example. Mailing envelope and return envelope $0.20. Add $0.09 for shipping of the order and this brings it to $0.29. Postage from USA to Germany is $1.05. Return postage(stamps) to the USA from Germany is $1.50. QSL cards using current W4MPY pricing of 1000 single color cards for $58.95 comes out to $0.59 per card. I print my own cards so cost of cards is cheaper for me. Totaling all of this comes out to $3.43. So by using OQRS, you’re paying and extra $1.57. A cost increase of 45%. Let’s look at the cost if the QSL Manager sent QSL’s direct. Shipping for one size envelope is now less. One envelope, $0.165. Postage to USA, $1.50 and QSL card, $0.59. Total: $2.26 per request. With the $5 minimum using the OQRS the DXpedition is making $2.47 per QSL request. A 109% markup.

Now let’s run some more numbers. Let’s say the the DXpedition logs 100,000 QSO’s and 50% of the QSO’s request a QSL via the OQRS. That’s 50,000 requests at $5 a request. If the DXpedition makes $2.47 per request, that comes out to $123,500.00. Break that down to a 15 member team at it comes out to $8233 per team member. That’s money back on their initial cost to go on the trip and will most likely will go back to their bank account where it came from in the first place.

If you’re going to go you need to be willing to spit out for your own expenses no matter how much it is. Nobody is begging you to go and the world will not end if you don’t go.

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