Thursday, January 11, 2018

Jan 11 - Worth It? Professional Membership Fees

Daily Report
Lesson: Make "Them" Accountable 

Scenario
I belong to several industry specific professional organizations. My fingers are in a lot of pots.  I’m on the board of four, and am active in two. They all, have one thing in common. They are acutely and comfortably aware that their members do not read the minutes. 

The two board positions I deem unworthy, I made the commitment, so I’ll continue to execute my committee work as assigned even though I do not see the value promised to their paying members, their fees are bloated and in both cases, they are poor stewards of membership dues and it’s acceptable to behave unprofessionally. It’s all that I teach NOT to do in board meetings. One association saddens me! There’s so much hope and opportunities waiting. Yet, the board appears to be rather morally bankrupt. To be fair, it’s possible they really are so myopic they can’t visualize options.

When board term is over, however, I will be quickly exiting. Sometimes change can be made from working outside the circle of “that’s how we’ve always done it.” That’s an indelible culture to penetrate. So I’m calling on members to invoke change. Get the value promised from your memberships.  That’s not to say that 50% of the professional organizations are poorly managed, but my goal is to encourage all to evaluate their annual membership dues. Give the professional organization or professional association a grade.  Do it annually!

Action
As I mentioned most members do not read the minutes. They have no idea how the board members are voting on issues that affect the members and the future of the organization. If members read the posted minutes, and looked at the financial ledgers of many of the professional organizations they would be appalled.  Where’s the benefit to the member?  Some of these not-for profit organizations spend well over 50% of the money on the board members. Sure you get a newsletter, maybe even a professional journal, and if you are lucky, training worth talking about with others in your field.  But, are you actually taking advantage of the training offerings or even reading the newsletters or journals? If not why are you a member?

I’m not judging, I am on one board, just because I thought they were going to make a positive change for their members.  That’s what they promised.  But it is clear that change is not what they want. There’s a lot of ink wasted on writing their forsaken ideas on paper, but I haven’t seen a step toward that effort.  They seem to be happy with both their oversight and under-achievements. 

You are probably wondering why I am a member.  The same reason most of us join associations.  It looks good on a proposal, on a resume, and if they have a Christmas party, you can attend.  People take us seriously if you say “I’m a member of…” But, where some organizations actually contribute to your success, increase your networking opportunities, have mentoring and coaching programs, and training that isn’t freely offered on the internet, others are just dead weight to our budgets and time-suckers to our busy lives (especially if you are on a committee or a member of a voting board). 

It’s time to evaluate your professional associations and professional organizations.  Are you wasting your money?  Or maybe, just maybe, you can be “that” voice that invokes change from within.  Consider running for an office or position.  The experience is invaluable, and the view from the board table is revealing. If only walls could talk.
Kathleen Brandt
Put It Into Action Series

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