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So, you want me to join/renew:

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  • So, you want me to join/renew:

    An open letter to Presidents and BODs everywhere in the post recession era.

    I've been a member of just about everything horse related at one time or another. But lately with money tight, gas, hay and grain prices all over the place and a bleak economic picture, I've taken to looking at the old plea for dues in a brand new light. How many bales of hay will this membership cost me? Is it really worth it?

    In reality, there is nothing I really need to join this year. And so far, I have renewed just one membership - and that was for an organization that provides me one specific service I believe provides me with good value. There are reminders for half a dozen more requests for renewals on my desk and another half dozen that I already gave up on in the last couple of years.

    If you are a President or BOD of any federation, association, club or society you might want to ask yourself some serious questions about why renewals are down and new members are scarce. Here's my list, if you need a place to start.

    1) Do you really want members? Or do you really just want membership money and the clout of large numbers? If you don't really care what your membership wants, if you don't reach out and actively try to find out what your members need, want or care about don't expect your membership to grow this year. Don't expect it to stay the same either.

    2) Are the services you provide really all that good, or important, to your average member? Or do you really need that many awards programs? Is that why people really join? Are you sure?

    3) Do you think you have us over a barrel? Do you really think that there are not at least some type of alternatives to your organization? There are other breed societies wanting our money, other disciplines with their hands out, other local clubs or circuits willing to be nice to us - at least for the first year. Only the most deeply invested are "stuck" - the rest of us have options.

    4) Do you think we don't expect professional behavior? No matter how large or how small your organization, petty spats and petty politics are a huge turn off. Pet projects are noticed. And the inside cliques and clans are annoying.

    5) Have you lost your focus? If your mission statement says one thing, but you don't really do that anymore (or do many more other things), don't be surprised by thinning membership roles. Some people do join out of idealism and notice when your ideals fall to the bottom of the list.

    6) Look at the people around you. Are all your board members, officers and committee chairs your friends? Does everyone know each other? Then you have a real problem. We have had enough of the good old boy network and bummer-free-zones. There is something called the loyal opposition and if you don't have some of that in your organization you are in real trouble.

    7) Do you really want volunteers? Or would you rather have minions? We can tell the difference. Although you put in a huge amount of volunteer hours to run your organization, you know you get a lot of ego stroking out of it. Volunteering for the long, cold or hot, dirty, glamor-less jobs require much more dedicated people. Use those hours sparingly, praise often and treat these people with respect. Less bribery, more genuine appreciation.

    8) If what you really want is a private club, then by all means, please do that. But please stop masquerading as something else. If your organization is nationally sanctioned, then please step down and go start your own thing. Let someone else try to get it right.

    9) Yes, you are accountable. If you are a non-profit or not-for-profit organization there are accounting rules that apply to you. There are other laws that apply to you too. Yes, your financial books and meeting minutes must be open or available, especially to members.

    I am sure there is more, but this should get you started. It is not meant to be exclusive or exhaustive. Nor is it meant to pick on any organization in particular. There is something for everyone in there.

    If you run a true non-profit, like a rescue or some other real charitable institution, you might want to take a minute to read the above also - just to be sure, or maybe get a good idea or two. Oh, and some good news, my dues money is coming to you guys this year and maybe even some of those scarce volunteer hours!

    Sincerely,

    Your Ex-Member

  • #2
    BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO!

    All stand and applaud.
    Don't let anyone tell you that your ideas or dreams are foolish. There is a millionaire walking around who invented the pool noodle.

    Comment


    • #3
      Very true! Only paying the dues, I absolutely must! And dragging my heels at that!
      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Alterkashun View Post
        7) Do you really want volunteers? Or would you rather have minions? We can tell the difference. Although you put in a huge amount of volunteer hours to run your organization, you know you get a lot of ego stroking out of it. Volunteering for the long, cold or hot, dirty, glamor-less jobs require much more dedicated people. Use those hours sparingly, praise often and treat these people with respect. Less bribery, more genuine appreciation.
        Originally posted by Alterkashun View Post
        If you run a true non-profit, like a rescue or some other real charitable institution, you might want to take a minute to read the above also - just to be sure, or maybe get a good idea or two. Oh, and some good news, my dues money is coming to you guys this year and maybe even some of those scarce volunteer hours!
        For rescues as well as horse organizations, I think you have a lot of great points, except the one I quoted above. In a huge non-profit/organization, perhaps the above is true. But for the average organization - say a rescue or your smaller, local horse club - the first part of the above is off. Those people put in a lot of hard hours, doing menial tasks as well as the supposedly more glamorous ones. I've trudged around dead animals to get to the live ones, walked at fundraising events until I was so sore I could barely move, and worked to the point of exhaustion alongside those who volunteer. And I don't get a lot of ego-stroking rewards for it.

        BUT everyone does need to be reminded - THANK those who volunteer for you. Whatever the size of their job - from sending in a $10 donation to working non-stop on a tough project - they make what you do possible. Sometimes I worry I may be smothering my volunteers with thanks... but I want to make sure they know I appreciate them.

        On the flip side, make sure you tell those in charge that they're doing a good job, too (unless of course they really aren't!). They generally hear constant criticism and rarely hear a word of thanks or comments on things you like. It is a tough job and many of them are volunteers, too.
        Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

        Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com

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        • #5
          Why would someone post this under an alter?

          Comment


          • #6
            8) If what you really want is a private club, then by all means, please do that. But please stop masquerading as something else. If your organization is nationally sanctioned, then please step down and go start your own thing. Let someone else try to get it right.
            That means YOU, USHJA...
            "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

            Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
            Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.

            Comment


            • #7
              I see money as bales of hay too. and hours of life force spent.

              and in 2009, magazines, memberships, cable tv, netflix, restaurants, malls, movies, tack stores, horse shows, riding lessons are all on the not-this-year-list.

              Comment


              • #8
                Gives a lot of food for thought for all. I think you have written what many have wondered and discussed amongst themselves.
                "Sometimes you just have to shut up and color."

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Kate66 View Post
                  Why would someone post this under an alter?
                  Because I know people and I am not trying to hurt anyone's feelings. I am trying to issue a wake-up call. Just like many business's are failing right now, many of our horse related organizations are feeling the pain as well. And often they don't don't have a clue as to why. I am actually trying to help them and often it is easier to get your point across if it is more generic and not personal.

                  cowgirljenn - I tried to be clear about the fact that this doesn't apply to real non-profit charities. I only meant that there might be an idea or two that might help during these tough times. I would never compare you to a performance or breed organization officer or BOD member. Really. I swear.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Could not have put it better myself.

                    *applause*
                    "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well stated

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thank you for putting my thoughts and frustrations into words.
                        God grant me a horse and an eternity to learn its ways.

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