Finding the right fit in the association world isn’t always easy. In fact, I’ve decided that one association is not for me. Now it’s not a bad association. It truly seeks to promote the profession it represents, offering opportunities for professional development and personal growth. It also has a vibrant social media presence of which I will continue to participate. And the chapter I joined was very welcoming. The problem I ran into was an arduous chapter structure, and a revolving chapter board that just can’t move beyond their limited vision of what they should be.
Here’s the problem…there are 6 chapters within 25 miles of my home, which to my knowledge don’t collaborate with any frequency. I don’t know what the membership numbers are in these other chapters, but the one I belonged to had less than 30. Despite this, they were determined to do things by the book (Robert’s Rules of Order would have been proud), down to using a gavel to call a meeting (there were 4 of us in attendance) to order. The chapter was so focused on paperwork, filling vacant volunteer positions (almost as many positions as members), and reading bylaw amendments that they forgot the main purpose of their existence—the member. Sure they had several monthly events in the queue, but even these were falling short of expectations. They were playing by the rules for the sake of the rules, not the member*. I suppose the real kicker was when I volunteered to help on the newsletter, only to find myself as a reluctant chair (read more about this at How to scare off a potential chapter volunteer).
I’ve received 2 emails from National asking why I haven’t renewed. I know I owe them an answer, but I been stalling because I do like the people I’ve met; they just didn’t click with my needs. On the other hand, doesn’t National deserve an answer, especially since they are looking at change? But how do I respectfully leave the association without ruffling feathers?
Or, maybe the question really is…should I stay and lend my voice to help facilitate the changes this association so desperately needs? Is it worth a second look or not?
*See Peggy’s post Stop Measuring your Chapters’ Activity for more on the importance of serving the members than completing a checklist.