Ron Dwyer-Voss
Ron Dwyer-Voss
14 years ago
48 posts

The way we are, we are members of each other. All of us. Everything. The difference ain't in who is a member and who is not, but in who knows it and who don't.
~Burley Coulter, from Wendell Berry's "The Wild Birds"

I work with a lot of not-for-profit organizations that are struggling with how to get more people to "join them." They come to my courses because they are interested in either expanding membership, expanding their volunteer base, or sustaining volunteer levels. Their struggles usually are traced back to a traditional approach of marketing their cause and organization and assuming that anyone who cares about that cause will join them.

The organization's that turn this around by beginningto show interest in the individuals and groups in their community often find that the interest is returned. The interest is not based on a new found support for affordable housing or youth development orthe local school-- it is based on the potential of a new found relationship. A mutual membership.

In otherwords, not-for-profit organizations expand their membership by recognizing the mutual nature of real membership and investing/joining in the lives of their members through interest. The interest is often expressed in conversations, invitations, and personal contact.

What ways have you found to explore and develop mutual membership in your community?

updated by @ron-dwyer-voss: 10/24/16 04:45:35PM
Michael Mather
Michael Mather
13 years ago
7 posts

The Mental Health Empowerment Agency in New York was talking about this back in the summer of 2009. One of the things they did in Syracuse was that they found several folks in their group who loved the outdoors and the environment. They joined a group who was cleaning up the river that goes through Syracuse. That opened up an awareness of that sense of mutual membership.

I was thinking of the work De'Amon has done around our place in gathering together gardeners in our neighborhood for a meal - that otherwise would have never known one another. In these gatherings folks discovered other areas of connection - their is a woman, who is a gardener, who feels like her role in life is "to bind up the broken." This led her to spending time with some folks who have recently come face to face with their addictions - and she has spent time talking with them...because of these initial gatherings with the gardeners...

Yesterday we had a conversation with a local funeral home director and arts supporter...De'Amon told him about the artists that have been gathering for the last several years and the role he played in inviting them to the southside of town to be part of an art exhibition and contest at Garfield Park (at the time, they were the only African-American artists that competed in that event - it has sense expanded) - but it built that awareness of the mutual membership. The funeral home director is bringing together folks he knows for dinner in two weeks and to encourage them to attend an exhibition by these artists that he hadn't and wouldn't otherwise have known.

Those are a couple of things that jump right to mind.