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Andrei in the office

lordandrei

Andrei's Universe

One man's journey from infinity to nothingness


Andrei in the office
lordandrei

Non-profit organizations that DEMAND dues...

I have been in two non-profit organizations in my life. By in I refer to active membership for over 5 years where I held positions of responsibility that included representation to the public.

I am privileged because both the organizations I've been in have been, "Counter culture" to an extent. People who join the organizations to look for a pursuit away from the normal culture. As a result, the average person questions authority.

Both of these organizations have gone through debates over whether or not dues should be required of members. The latest debate I'm reading in one organization is the requirement of dues for six months by local branches to participate in some of their activities.

Personally, I think this is a disastrous idea. Local chapters absolutely require money to operate. However, there is an old adage, you don't get something for nothing. More often than naught this is read as, "Why should we do activities for you, if you're going to ride them for free." People lose site of the opposite, "Why should I pay for activity when my money isn't going to what I'm paying for?"

In all honesty, any non-profit organization is staffed and attended by one motivational factor. Desire. Every award, accolade, and certificate in truth is worth nothing to anyone but you and those who seek the same themselves. Your barber doesn't care, you're mother most likely doesn't care, and when push comes to shove... you probably won't care. You do it because it fulfills something within you.

The problem that we face is that most local branches push far beyond their means. They expand to use the largest amount of resources and spend the highest amount of money they can in the shortest period of time. As a result, everything becomes a quest for more money and more membership to keep the growing behemoth afloat. The organization, its activities, and purpose become secondary. Keeping the growth or stability becomes all that matters.

As a result, people are no longer attracted to the branch on the merits of the organization. The branch evolves into a status symbol that is more important than the organization or its ideals. Further those that were active at one time fall away. Partially from disenchantment but more often than naught from leadership that has turned the path of the branch and a deaf ear to its supporters. If the old membership fall away, they are viewed as dross to be abandoned.

Now, this doesn't mean there shouldn't be change in an organization and we shouldn't let people fall away. It does however mean that leadership needs to keep very watchful eyes on the changes and demands they make, less their needs or perceived needs of the branch wholly overshadow the purpose of the organization.

Membership and financial holdings are very important to any branch of any organization. But both in a non-profit sense must come from love and desire, not from demand. And one can not demand love. If the organization is being true to its purpose, it will attract support. Both financial as well as service thru membership. In fact, the more driven to the purpose you are rather than the rewards can be realized in the phrase "Delivered from the Lust of Result."

If however, you find that the money and the membership are not supporting the needs, the first issue is to reconsider the need. Are you demanding too much or providing too much? I'd rather be in a group of 4 seriously focussing on the purpose of the organization than 10000 where 70% don't even know why they are there.

There are many that will agree with me that Pennsic got too big. Dragon*Con is getting too big. Comic*con... well, it's a trade show, not a con.

Ask not what you can demand of your members, but know what your members will demand of you.

Ask and ye shall have! Seek, and ye shall find! Knock, and it shall be opened unto you!

Note the words are Ask and Seek, not Require and Recruit.