I trust we’ve all had a great early winter and are looking forward to the coming spring and summer. Winter is a slow time for many of us and for me it is an exciting period. In late January, it seems that all things are possible and the future is bright with spring only a couple short months away. Over the last few months your IFMA board has solicited feedback and is working diligently to address an issue that is becoming all too common for organizations like ours – “How Do We Attract New Members to the Association?” It is a tough question and we certainly aren’t alone in looking for answers.
Some marketing studies suggest that while we do need to continually attract new people to the profession and our associations, we need to put more effort into keeping the associates we have. Once people join a professional association somewhere between seventy-five and eighty-five percent of them stay joined year to year. But if we look at it another way, we could be losing up to twenty five percent of our current members every year. Almost half of those who leave an organization do so because they just couldn’t engage with the membership.
Most of us have some organization that we once belonged to or maybe supported but we parted ways because we just couldn’t click with the crowd. I know for me, the organizations where I’ve stayed had someone who took a personal interest in me, a mentor so to speak. Someone who made sure I had a face there to recognize, someone who introduced me to others and invited me to socialize after the event or asked me to join them at a table for lunch. They made me feel as if I mattered to them and the association. With the ones I left – seems I didn’t hear from them again until it was time to pay dues for the next year.
So, this year I would like to ask everyone who reads this article to accept a challenge from me to take it personal with our profession and organization. We all need to keep our eye out for the up and comers – we all have them, those individuals that challenge us every day about how and why we do things the way we do. We need them to continually ask those tough questions and if we don’t have the answers, maybe they do. And while we are at it, let’s all try to look up one of those faces we don’t see around our annual meetings anymore and find out why they left, what were the kinds of things they were looking for that were not being provided. Who knows – might be a simple fix to have them participating again.
Speaking of change and retention I would like to take just a minute to thank David Klein – Deputy Fire Marshal for the City of Las Vegas and one of your board of directors who retired this January. David did a terrific job for us in monitoring the dozens of people we have representing our organization on technical committees. He was a tremendous asset to the organization and his efforts are both appreciated and missed already. I would also like to introduce Kip LaMotte – Fire Marshal for New Brighton Minnesota who stepped in to fill David’s shoes. I look forward to working with Kip on the board and seeing where he helps to take us.
And while we are on the topic of change, I will be wrapping up my tenure as your president this June at our annual business meeting. I have really enjoyed working on your behalf and representing you to and for the association. I will of course still be an IFMA member and active with the work of the association. Hope to see many of you in Orlando in June – it’s been a great ride!
President - IFMA