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Re: AIS: Bulletins, Changes, Membership

 It is amazing to me that I can agree with most
everything Anner has said and yet arrive at what may
be the opposite conclusion.

The first point was that many members really did not
join on their own volition, gifts, discounts, etc. I
agree, that is why we agree that those are probably
not viable ways of gaining members that will stay.
Even years ago when the society was growing, these
same tactics were being used and most members did not
stay. But the small percentage that did stay was
larger than it is today. And that subtle difference is
what causes the society to wax rather than wane. 
Logically the difference is whether that small
percentage discovered the organization a good fit in
that trial year. 

 Anner wrote ----First, I want to observe that in my
experience significant  numbers of 
> the
> "new" members which are being "lost" each year were 
probably really 
> not there
> to begin with. They did not join of their own 
volition, fueled by an 
> interest
> in irises. They were given their  memberships,
either as gifts, or as
> promotional incentives by Affiliates or 
individuals, or they were 
> signed up at
> someone's expense to increase the  membership rolls
of a local group, 
> or they were
> signed up because someone  thought giving a
membership to a local 
> nursery
> center or a newspaper columnist  was a good idea. We
hear ideas put 
> forth all the
> time about giving away  memberships as a means to
exciting the public 
> or
> getting the message  out, so we should not be
surprised that some or 
> most of  these
> people do not renew. We may rightly say that we have
failed to  win 
> them over,
> possibly that they were even driven away, but I
think it  is well to be
> realistic about the situation and the odds in these 
cases. Members 
> also drop at
> the two year, the three year, the five year,  and
the tenth year 
> point, and I
> would be more concerned about those  losses. It is
just as important 
> to keep the
> excitement going for  the continuing--read
sustaining--members as it 
> is to
> create  excitement for new ones.

 I doubt that it is a zero sum game that appealing to
new members would make the society less appealing to
older members. If anything it means that the society
might be more appealing and vibrant to everyone

> Second, I do not think having business material in
the Bulletin has  
> anything
> to do with the losses. I suspect people turn away
from the magazine  
> not
> because of what they find there, but what they do
not find: Items  
> which reflect
> their own interests and what they want from the
society,  and everyone 
> wants
> something. The problem is that they don't always
want  what the 
> Society can
> provide, or what the Society itself needs them to 
want, which is to 
> be active,
> engaged participatory members,  informed members who
are actually 
> interested in
> the business of the Society,  contributing members
who want to know 
> what is
> being decided by and about the  organization, that
community of people 
> they have
> joined.

 I agree that what members do not find is important,
and because the amount that is spent on the bulletin
production is finite,  reducing the costs of business
items allows for more space for articles that might be
interesting to those who are interested in Iris but do
not wish to be involved in the governance of the
society. To me developing the casual interest of a
gardener who just wants to grow iris is just as
important in their promotion as providing data for the
officers of the society.

> Were I able to wave a magic wand to make one change
in AIS it  would 
> be this:
> I would wish that every member would  fully
understand that when we 
> speak of
> AIS we speak not of "they," as in  "they keep
printing stuff in the 
> Bulletin
> which does not appeal to  me....they keep raising
the dues and not 
> giving me my
> dollar's worth...they  are not getting the news of
the Dykes winner 
> out to
> the media...I don't  know why they don't do more for
the young...they 
> keep
> pushing bearded irises at the expense of
others...they don't meet my  
> needs." Nor
> do we, as members, accurately speak of AIS as "you"
as in "you are  
> losing
> members" or "you have a membership problem" or "you
are not meeting my 
>  needs and
> expectations" There is no They among members; there
is no You.  The 
> word in
> most of these instances must be  "We," although
often it is "I."
> There is a Board, yes, and administrative agencies
at various levels,  
> but
> AIS is not just these people, these members. AIS  is
the membership as 
> a whole,
> each one of whom is ideally a supporter of  the
Society's mission and a
> contributing member of the whole, according to 
their abilities, 
> resources,
> circumstances, and interests. That, I  believe, is
what joining AIS 
> means. 

This WE verses THEY argument is right on, but I dont
understand how it relates to this discussion. Surely
if we are part of the organization it is important
that we discuss changes that could benefit all of us
including new members and WE then have to help carry
them out.

> Unfortunately, many folks see opting for membership
in AIS as a  
> consumer
> issue, like buying a warranted product, as opposed
to joining in  an 
> activity, or
> entering a venue for self education. Declaring  that
AIS, or the 
> Bulletin, is
> not delivering on the dollar is to  define
membership as a product, 
> and I
> deplore it.

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