Some of you may ask the following after reading my introduction. How can that be? Our chapter is losing members. We can't retain new members. Our attendance at our meetings is dwindling. Everyone in our chapter is retired and perhaps even tired. Have you looked at our state membership statistics-aren't they going down each year? While I might have to agree with the truth of your statements, I would ask you to look at this with another perspective.
Your members and chapters are doing these fantastic things and supporting many good causes despite a declining membership. You are maintaining your vital interests in learning and your communities even though you have fewer dollars and members. Let's try looking at the glass as half full and not half empty. Our Delta State (Missouri) chapters are working.
Lest you think me completely unrealistic, I do know that we need to address our chapters’ needs and dilemmas. You are correct, we can't continue to lose membership and remain a viable organization indefinitely. I am proposing a few solutions or suggestions that might help your chapter.
First, let us look at the items that make your chapter strong. Perhaps it is the wonderful fellowship you have. Maybe your president has a gift for lively meetings that inform and entertain or you have a great project that supports literacy in your community. Find those items that make your chapter strong and let everyone know what you do well. In other words, don't let your chapter be a secret. Let the world know who you are. When you complete a project, make certain that there is a news release in local papers. Share your chapter events with colleagues and area schools. Make contacts with the school administrators and let them know who you are and what you do.
When you are tempted to be discouraged take a few minutes and list three great things about your chapter and DKG. Members need value for their dues. Make certain that everyone knows the value. Examine and promote International programs. Encourage participation at the state, regional and international levels. In other words, get the word out about the wonders of DKG.
Second, support your officers. Say thank you often and get them small gifts, write thank you notes for their efforts. Don't leave them to do all the work. Volunteer to help in specific ways. Maybe you could volunteer to call members who have not paid their dues for the treasurer. Your president might like help in gathering materials for the meetings. There is an old saying that "It is lonely at the top.", but it certainly doesn't have to be. Members can be available and make being an officer a great job.
The next suggestion is perhaps the most difficult. Perhaps we need to embrace some changes. The world of the 21st century is not the same as earlier years. Who would have thought that a handheld device which I carry much of the time would allow me to call my grandchildren and see them? Thirty years ago my mother had to be satisfied with a long distance call to her grandchildren that was made when the rates were less expensive. Just as the devices we use on a daily basis have changed, so should our organizations.
Change is often difficult and we often resist it, not understanding how it could possibly be beneficial. I am not suggesting we lose that great fellowship or the support for our schools and teachers. Those are timeless and at the very heart of who we are and what we do. Evaluate your chapter and see what might be preventing younger members from staying. For example, do you still have an attendance policy? It could be eliminated. A member who pays her dues is in good standing. Are there traditions that need to change? Do business meetings need to be shorter?
Each chapter will need to examine the changes that may need to happen for their individual group - what works for one may not work for another. Try to put on the glasses of a younger member who may have a limited budget, small children, and the demands of the teaching profession. Then find the flexibility to serve them. More later. . .
This recipe is simple, yet so good.
1 white cake mix
1 cup cream
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup pecans
1/2 cup coconut shredded
Bake one white cake mix in 9” x 12” cake pan. Remove from the oven can and punch holes throughout the cake with a fork. Mix in a separate bowl both milks and cream. Pour over the cake. Top with whipped topping. Sprinkle with pecans or coconut or both if you prefer.