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Dear League Leaders,
Thank you to all that participated in the webinar on Wednesday. We had about 116 participants! If you missed it, here is the link to the archived edition http://lwv.na4.acrobat.com/p16559472/ I will extract some of your good ideas from this webinar and post them on the lwv-leader and membership lists.
League is the wonderful solution to people you meet who complain just about everything. You know this bon mot " IF LIFE HANDS YOU A LEMON, DON'T COMPLAIN, BUT INSTEAD MAKE LEMONADE ....... we can add "TO SELL TO THOSE WHO ARE THIRSTY FROM COMPLAINING". The League of Women Voters is just like lemonade. It is for us to sell to people who are frustrated with our democracy.
While nobody will argue that traditionally Leagues have done phenomenal work in the area of affecting legislation. This is one of the great benefits of large numbers collaborating for a common good. Additionally, nobody will argue that almost every citizen in a particular community reaps the benefit of their state or national League advocacy efforts-regardless of their membership, or lack there of.
The problem that has emerged for Leagues is that League supporters, many of the Baby Boomers, are retiring. The "supporters" belonged to their professional association or union for a very different reason; to support their career. The younger "value seekers" want something different, they want a return on their time and dollar investment. Since advocacy creates value for all, there is no actual return on investment because everyone gets the value regardless of membership.
Leagues of today must show ROI (Return On Investment) in order to retain and recruit members. Leagues that have traditionally relied on their advocacy work to show value are finding themselves coming up short in today's ROI column. Currently, your challenge is to create programs, activities, trainings, services, and anything else that deliver actual ROI for the dues your members pay. While many Leagues already do a pretty darn good job in this area, they also tend to do an awful job in measuring and communicating that ROI value to their current members and prospective members.
Valuating the ROI on your various programs, services, and activities requires both art and science. What I believe to be the most honest way of determining the real-dollar value of any program, service or activity is to ask your members. This needs to be done in a live session. I want members to support, fight for, and stand by their valuation numbers and not diminish the value of what they do.
What now? Once you can honestly tell current members and prospective members how much they will get back for each dollar they invest in membership, you need to shout if from the roof tops. This information should be included in renewal notices, articles in your newsletter, on your web site, and everywhere possible. This is what the younger people in your community and League need to hear. They need to hear why it is a good decision to join your League and pay their dues-year after year. They need to know what's in it for them.
Marcia A. Merrins
LWVUS Board of Directors
Trainings and Meetings Chair