[NAFEX] member benefits, free lists, etc...

mangodance bmn at iglou.com
Fri Feb 15 19:01:50 EST 2008


I am starting this under different thread so as to have the discussion 
without people feeling like I'm pointing at them.  I just want to bring 
up some points however.

The very purpose of membership is to make NAFEX sound and make it sound 
for the long-term.  With pots of money drying up everywhere...that 
usually means that small organizations can count on one source of 
income...membership dues.  NAFEX has a number of missions made clear on 
the front page of the website at:

http://www.nafex.org/

I started discussing the needs for marketing, getting the word out, 
digging for members, etc very early.  I unfortunately have a lot of 
experience with small organizations going through these same 
developmental pains.  I'm not trying to be alarmist, but I've seen 
groups muddle through, I've seen some limp aong for a while then not be 
able to pay bills, some step it up and excel, and some are history.

I also want to point out that I am a BIG believer in providing free 
content online.  That's one of the reasons the website is headed in a 
newer direction.  That doesn't necessarily mean that all content will be 
free.  Someone has to eventually pay to provide content.

You don't get visability without driving people to your site.  Once you 
get them there, you gotta feed them.  The trick is feeding enough to 
hook the interest and create new members.  New members will eventually 
become the elders.  No members means no NAFEX.  No NAFEX, and the 
discussion of the website, mailing lists, etc are moot.  That said, 
content is king online.  There must be a great deal more content. 
Additionally, there must be regular content contribution.  Once this is 
happening and regularly, you get decent indexing in search engines. 
Decent indexing means driving traffic to the site...and you see the 
cycle.  I do not yet want to give out too many details, but I'll be 
reaching out to membership soon enough.

Much of the discussion has centered around whether the list itself is a 
member benefit or whether it should be open.  To be honest, while 
dealing with the site, and looking to create MEMBER value, I hadn't 
considered the list...but then I also had no idea there were so many 
nonmembers.  It is fair for members to voice their opinions over why it 
should be a member only feature.  Members built the organization and 
keep it running...just like any orgaization.  Many members pay for 
membership, then donate inordinate amounts of time and money running it, 
volunteering, and making things work seemingly seamlessly.

True enough, this type situation is handled many different ways 
online...open, open to read only, closed, and all manner of inbetween. 
I'm not trying to raise hackles, but it is also a valid point that folks 
have become members through the list.  It may also be valid that folks 
have become members, found what they wanted on the list, and decided to 
drop membership in favor of being on the list.

I'm not trying to point to any group or individual, but I want folks to 
realize that my mission is to do what is best for NAFEX and for the 
long-term.  The issue over the mailing list is something I did not 
consider when thinking about installing a message board.  I will look at 
this issue in depth before deciding...but we have a while before this 
decision will need to be made anyway.

The thing is, while I welcome discussion, people who are not members 
will need to understand that regardless of how kind, upstanding or 
participatory they may be, members will always have a greater voice.  It 
is afterall, the organization that they created, support and maintain. 
Maximum effort will be put into driving value towards membership.  The 
organizational archives and library will take years to develop fully. 
Some members have already contributed time, effort, and dollars toward 
this.  I'm a big believer in the thought that people do what they want 
to do.  I'm one of those people that let my membership lapse off and on. 
  Not just here but in other groups as well.  I'm always jugglng too 
many tasks and not enough time.  Non-necessities may be pushed aside for 
a while.  Ultimately however, I am responsible for my decisions...or 
indecision.  I feel the same issues and pressures that the rest of you 
feel...regularly.

Membership in NAFEX is not simply receiving Pomona.  For many...that may 
be it entirely.  That's fine.  For some, maybe it is the online mailing 
list.  For others, it may be swapping scion and comradery.  The message 
here is there are a variety of membership benefits and we all choose 
what benefits of membership we value.  But the key is membership...it is 
that commitment to an organization that we value.  Without it, the 
organization ceases to be unless some kind benefactor steps up with an 
obscene amount of money and decides to provide for future generations. 
I'm more of a bird-in-the-hand guy.

Also wrapped up in the mix is the assumption that electronic Pomona 
means varying levels of membrship pricing.  That is almost never the 
case, and I truthfully would probably vote against it.  Again, my 
concern is for the long-term viability of NAFEX.  I'd be in favor of 
optional electronic distribution if NAFEX can:

1) save $$$ and become stronger financially

2) save $$$ and devote resources to other parts of its mission

3) make it easier to reach membership

4) make it easier for membership to use Pomona (don't have to store 
them, can search electronically, etc.)

5) avoid frequent dues increases

A healthy NAFEX is a vibrant, active, and ***SOLVENT*** NAFEX.  This is 
the least fun thing for a member of an organization to 
consider....well...maybe only second to bylaws and constitutions.

In the end, I'm all for making NAFEX as accessible and broadly relative 
to people's lives as is possible.  But it is all about the organization 
and the good folks who make the organization more than the sum total of 
its parts.  My hat is off to them and I'll do anything I can to see it 
continue in hopes others will build from their work.







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