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Transformation: A View from Spruce Street
Where are we headed? Help us decide!
In January 2015, your federation Board directed the organization to look into what it would take to transform our organization; transform it to focus our future in two areas. They are:
Grow Engagement in Our Mission
The overall top barriers identified are membership, public awareness, financial and culture. The overall top solutions mentioned include membership, public awareness, financial and communication.
Membership as a barrier outdistanced the second and third barriers mentioned by nearly twice as many and out distanced the fourth barrier by almost three times. Statistically, this provides a clear indication that membership is the number one area clubs want SIA to help them address.
The overall common concerns with membership include declining, aging and retaining membership; the lack of commitment and involvement by members; and the meeting times and locations.
The solutions mentioned for membership ranged from more district and federation involvement; to recruiting younger members; focusing on S clubs; and reinventing Venture.
Your federation Board looked at these results and being very mindful of the membership numbers decided to take action by creating a full-time senior director of membership. The position is focused on helping the organization grow its membership, improve the member experience and streamline the club process. Sue Haney, formerly of Lions International, was instrumental in developing the Lions Family Membership Program, Women’s Initiative, and other target-marketing initiatives to develop membership among younger people and special interest groups. She joined SIA headquarters on June 9, 2015.
Yes, to some of you, that may sound like more overhead, but to those who know the only way to grow a business is by investing in its growth, this is considered an investment in our federation’s growth…and our future!
In addition to this “investment” strategy, we created a new recruitment campaign that started September 1, 2015. Called “All Aboard the MemberSHIP,” it has us working together to grow the number of people engaged in our mission.
Solutions also pointed out the need for that elusive younger member. Yes, young members are by definition the future of any organization. And we have to remember that younger people are making engagement choices in a world very different from the one in which our organization has historically operated.(1) I think you know, if our federation creates engagement models based on historical assumptions and their experience with historical audiences, these models will be less effective.
A recent study about engaging younger people in an organization’s mission tells us: “It is critical for organizational strategy and mindsets to adapt to engage young people in an organization’s mission.” Makes sense.
Soroptimist has a strategy to engage young people in our mission. It’s known as Live Your Dream.org. Some of us don’t understand it, some of us don’t want resources used to incubate and develop it, some of us want headquarters to hurry up and replicate it in every part of the federation.
With such disparate thinking, one thing is clear—we have to change our mindset and embrace another way forward to engage more people in our mission—a way that is relevant to the generation we want to attract.
It doesn’t mean the club model is going away or is any less important. In fact at some point we will try to integrate the club model with our new online model for recruitment. And that requires concentrated resources. Our senior director of membership will be leading this charge.
YES, we heard you! Your feedback helped the Board decide we need more focus on the development of membership Now that is the power of participation! Thank you to all who took the time to give us your thoughts. But that’s not all….
Scale-up Our Programmatic Impact
(1) Engaging Young Association Members, Association Laboratories, Inc., May 17, 2015, pgs 22 – 24.
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