Dear Members and Guests,
Recently I read a magazine article entitled “They May Not Come Back And Here’s Why.”* The author stated that some membership organizations have seen as much as a 40 percent decline in pre-pandemic attendance rates. This led me to reflect on AFP and specifically, the professional development seminars and events presented by our chapter. Here are some of the data points that are emerging:
- Who’s attending. The pandemic-related shift to Zoom meetings has been very effective in attracting attendees from other chapters and the broader fundraising community. Zoom supports large audiences and provides an easy way to engage in collaborative efforts with other chapters and organizations. Online meetings lower seminar fees which also make it easier to attend. And the zero-travel time to an online meeting certainly has great appeal. So, with the advent of Zoom, are AFP members choosing which meetings to attend mainly on content rather than chapter loyalty?
- While GSFV chapter membership has grown, especially in the past nine months, the number of members attending per meeting is lower. Our sustaining registrant numbers are frequently achieved by non-chapter-member participation. Is this phenomenon a reaction to program content, a CFRE-specific mindset, or something else?
- The overall number of attendees present at the meeting often is far short of the number of registrants. Is this true for other virtual meetings? Does a virtual meeting somehow make absence easier?
The article notes a cultural transformation from an “Age of Association” in which individuals formed organizations to join, participate, and serve to an “Age of Authenticity." Today, people focus on discovering and expressing their true selves. Things are far more fluid and identity springs less from a web of institutions (career, family, neighborhood, etc.) than a series of individual choices. * The opportunities of the Age of Authenticity are to provide deep connections, share stories, and restore community. That is precisely what your GSFV chapter is attempting through careful programming of monthly professional development seminars, chapter events, and activities. That’s why the science of who’s attending, why they’re attending, and how often they’re attending matters. We’re digging into it and hope to discover patterns and trends that can be built upon. Our goal is to be a chapter of excellent fundraisers and fundraising excellence. We invite you to come, be your authentic self, and help us achieve our goal.
* Zscheile, D. 2022, March, They May Not Come Back and Here’s Why, Living Lutheran, Volume 6 Number 10, pp 26-27.
Nancy J. Ackerman, CFRE