How to engender urgency?

The previous post talks about a history of AAUW of North Carolina leadership.  While looking up other things, I came across these two documents in the archive:

The 2005 proposal looks so similar to the one we’re now considering — and so few of the 2006 positions were ever filled — I fear we aren’t at the root of the problem: how to encourage more people to contribute. If we can’t do that, it doesn’t really matter how we arrange the deck chairs, does it?

Of course talking about this openly probably isn’t helping. But after this many years of reworking the same problems …

AAUW NC Changes – some background

The changes at AAUW NC may look odd if you’re new to the organization. In this post, I’m going to try to give some background.

I’m posting here, not on, because I’m speaking as an individual and may make some statements that the other members of the committee charged with looking at a new structure may not have heard or may disagree with. But this is the point of view I’ll be taking when I “speak” to the Tar Heel and Sandhills/Southern Pines branches to try to “explain” the proposal.

[Full disclosure of my involvement: I was an instigator of the ReConnection Process in 2002 and a member of that committee 2002-2004. I was state president trying to implement its recommendations 2006-2008. I (perhaps foolishly) volunteered to be on the 2010-2011 structure committee trying to pick up the pieces.]

From 2002-2004, AAUW NC went through a “ReConnection Process” to improve communication between the branches and the state organization.  While progress was made in some areas (streamlining the state board, increasing the number of branches attending state meetings) an underlying issue was not resolved:  the goals implicit in the state structure are not matched by the resources available to it.

By resources, I mean “time” and “money”. In fact, the financial resources of the organization are in very good shape, but as an all-volunteer organization (with a couple of small contracts for specific tasks), that is partly because no one has made creative, focused proposals on how to spend our money, so it sits in the reserve account.

The real issue is “time” — volunteer energy to drive the organization forward.

Examples of our deficit here:

  • The 2007 nominating committee failed to find an enthusiastic candidate for treasurer, and a past-president of the state (who had been expecting to serve as support for the 2007-2010 president-elect/president from her branch) was pressed into service in that role.
  • The 2009 nominating committee failed to find anyone to serve as president-elect or treasurer (but did recruit a pair of good leaders to serve together as program vice presidents and the reluctant treasurer from 2007 agreed to serve a second two-year term).
  • The 2010 nominating committee failed to find candidates for president, membership vice president, secretary and a replacement treasurer, leaving the program vice-presidents, the still reluctant but capable treasurer, and the past-president as the only members of the executive committee.

We are also seeing problems filling appointed positions:

  • No one has stepped up to be the communications chair or the editor-in-chief of the newsletter since the person holding both of those jobs stepped down on July 1, 2010. This leaves the production of the state newsletter in the hands of the executive committee with a couple of members supporting them in collecting information.
  • No one has volunteered to lead the state’s public policy efforts. While national issues are covered well by the communications from AAUW, we are depending on communication from coalition partners for information on state-level issues with no good way to organize and distribute that information to the members.
  • The position of “fundraising chair” has been vacant for at least two years. This hampers efforts to report to the branches on their support of the national organizations priorities.
  • Other committees that are left leaderless (and, perhaps more important, have no one to carry out any of the tasks associated with them): College/University Relations and Diversity

All of the branch presidents are members of the board of AAUW NC, and were kept aware of these deficits in the elected officers. Understandably, perhaps, they were unable to help recruit candidates for these offices and so became the dominant block on the AAUW NC board — even though it is clear that many of them are not able or do not wish to devote much time or energy to issues of keeping the state afloat.

Therefore, it seems clear that the current state board structure is broken. An ad hoc committee was appointed at the October meeting to address this issue.

Stay tuned.