What’s the problem?

This may be the draft of the summer 2007 AAUW NC president’s letter in the state newsletter.

I’m a member of the Association’s Organizational Structure and Governance task force (see announcement), and was tasked with drafting criteria to evaluate the OSG recommendations. As I started thinking about the criteria for the OSG recommendations, I went back and asked “what’s the problem?” I said to myself, “declining membership,” “financial challenges,” “few supporters willing to commit significant time or money,” but then I caught myself. I need to keep in mind the real problem:

In the classroom, the workplace, and the community,
here and around the world,
equity for women and girls is still an issue.

How do we address the problem?
In AAUW we attack that problem on three related fronts:

  1. Research on equity issues that impact the lives of women and girls and which resonate with members of the community.
  2. Education for ourselves on those issues so that we can learn where there are opportunities for us to fight those inequities while we also encourage education on all fronts as the best strategy to decrease inequity overall
  3. Advocacy to carry out what we learn and “shape the future” with work in our schools, our legislatures and courts, and our communities.

What’s required of us to address the problem?

Time and money. Simple, but complicated. On some fronts, we must depend on professional staff to lay the groundwork and establish the framework for volunteer efforts. That takes money. On the other hand, our power comes from our grass roots structure and committed volunteers. That means time. The creativity of those volunteers, filtered through professional communications channels, can be multiplied many fold. Money again. The cycle continues as projects rise and fall. If we tap the passion of those who care about “the problem,” and avoid siphoning time and money into low leverage activities seemingly unconnected to the mission, our capacity to advance equity for women and girls is enormous.

——-End article, begin OSG-specific comments——–

So how does this affect our structure and governance?
With that in mind, here’s what I’d propose for evaluating the recommendations of the Organizational Structure and Governance Task Force:

  • Shifts resources (time and money) towards mission-related work
  • Increases resources (time and money) available overall
  • Improves flexibility to allow more individuals to connect to our efforts
  • Supports improved focus, alignment and branding to make our efforts clearer to stakeholders and others concerned
  • Radiates excellence to make our efforts more visible and attractive

Examples

  • National dues collection (shifts resources)
  • “Development Corps” (cf. Lobby Corps) (increases resources)
  • Fewer, themed “regional” meetings (improves flexibility)
  • Ongoing evaluation of efforts (e.g. committees) (excellence)

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