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Andrei in the office


Andrei's Universe

One man's journey from infinity to nothingness

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Andrei in the office

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.

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Just stumbled across this, so I thought I'd comment. I'm not sure but it sounds like you're referring to leaping laughter oasis because of your mention of "six months." Anyway, if so, you simply don't understand our policy. If for some reason there is NO local OTO body anywhere that you find deserving of your support through local body membership, then we'll charge you six months local dues. IE 90 bucks. No one ie being "required" to do anything. If on the other hand you DO find a local body somewhere you want to become a member of, we won't charge you a plug nickle over the standard fees. I think you've got to do some major twisting of the facts of that policy to fit it into your comment above.

Not referring to at all

93 R0bin,

Actually, I'd heard the 6 months from a few bodies, I wasn't referring to any one in particular. Personally, I like the idea of committment to a body. To be honest, I wish people would make contributions to every body they visit. I'm happy that I am in a financial place where I can make a strong donation whenever I visit a Body. Unfortunately, I can't speak for everyone else.

So, my approach is the often the Devil's advocate. I look for the holes in the system. I want to find out where there might be problems with this. I'm not concerned so much with the idea of someone not finding a body that is "Deserving". The way I view it is that if someone is equi-distant or at least in the range of having two bodies to choose from, they may choose strictly based if one body has more requirements than the other. Body "A" requires 6 months active dues while Body "B" doesn't. If a person doesn't believe they can pony up 6 months of activity, they may decided to go primarily to Body "B". Now, thelemically this should be fine. To each his own.

Maybe the brethren who's more likely to think with frugallity is less of a 'fit' for Body "A". Maybe in the grand scheme it's a way of sorting people by their wills. However, another valid concern is that it can form a wedge of culture and almost a competition between the two bodies.

Personally, I love to travel. Personally, I love dropping donations on any body I visit. But for me I do it because I want to do anything I can to help the body. And I have it in my means to do so without having to think about the action or the ramifications. If at all possible, I take the approach of trying to do so without drawing attention to myself.

Several of the bodies I've been looking into aren't looking for 6 months of activity but in fact 6 months of local dues which in turn will give the member access to activity. For me I view it from the other downside. I can buy myself the '6 months of dues' without doing anything for the body at all. To me that feels like the opposite problem.

So, I'm still trying to find many answers and, of course, I'm trying to find many more problems. It's not personally aimed at any specific body because at core all I want is for the order to prosper and pop up in as many towns as possible.

The question is finding the ways to fill our coffers without risking out integrity of membership. (And that too is not meant as a slight against any body)

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