Sometime ago I was asked, “What guides you in making decisions at the board level?”
“Before I enter any discussions, I ask myself, What’s best for our members?” I answered.
It’s easy to forget and lose sight of the fact that we are a member association and while we face many challenges as a not-for-profit association, we must always consider our member needs. Running the association is similar to running a business—we must ensure we have the money in the bank to meet our financial obligations, keep up-to-date with technology, provide training and programs that meet the needs and wants of our members, develop marketing plans, run a topnotch publishing department, and the list goes on. One advantage we have as an organization is that our “strongest asset is our members”; without a strong membership base it becomes much more difficult for our association to continue present programs and grow. A decrease in membership creates the snowball effect; fewer members mean an increase in dues, a reduction in programs, or the necessity of finding other ways to generate revenue. The danger of large increases in dues is the possibility of losing members. Not a great position to be in.
That is why I consider membership as being the biggest challenge facing our association within the next several years. When we surveyed our members in 2006, you told us that approximately 50 percent of you within the next 10 years would be at the age of retirement. Of those, 21 percent, within the next 5 years; and 25 percent of you indicated you would not be renewing when you retire. Already, some members have reached retirement and have not renewed their memberships. During the pass several years our numbers have been declining, the numbers of new members joining are fewer than are those leaving the association.
I do not want to paint the picture that it’s doomsday; however, membership has become a priority at the board level. We have requested a comprehensive membership plan be developed. Under the direction of Robert Kauer, the membership committee and the IO staff have developed a plan and training session that was presented to all membership committee chairs at each of the section meetings. The chairs will be passing this plan along to the chapter and division membership committees for implementation, in hopes that it will aid in bringing in new members and in retaining existing members.
I believe that the real strength for membership development comes from the chapter level. Individuals join because either they have been invited by a colleague or the local chapter provides training and networking opportunities that the individual deems valuable to his or her career.
Our forefathers who founded this organization had a vision, “For the IAEI to be the leaders and the keystone of the electrical industry.” Let’s ensure we continue that vision as part of our mission. I encourage each of you to promote IAEI to your supervisors, managers and government officials, and to sign up and mentor a new member.
We have come a long way since 1928 when the IAEI was established; let’s continue to grow and be the leaders and the keystone of the electrical industry.
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the international president. I want to thank all those who work on behalf of IAEI and who volunteer their time to sit on boards and in committees, who help organize meetings, provide training and contribute to the betterment of the association. I consider IAEI to be the best professional organization in the electrical industry.
By the time you read this article, my term as president will be over. I feel sadness and regret to be leaving the board after twelve years, only because I will miss the people I have worked with and those whom I have met during my tenure. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.