When a Members Voice Counts

In many membership based organizations, especially in the non-profit and non-profit charity organization, the members who remit an annual fee for the benefit and value of the membership as well as to support the mission of the organization may feel left out in the decision-making process. Of course that is why there is an elected board of directors in place, to, on behalf of the membership, guide the organization according to the mission, vision and values.

Certainly there are very few organizations that could progress forward in any meaningful way if they had to poll their membership on every decision, idea or activity. Imagine our federal elected officials submitting a survey or questionnaire on each bill that came before Parliament to their constituents. Not only would this be timely and cumbersome, the desired outcome may not be achieved given the many and varied opinions held by the constituency.

As an alternative, the time and tested process to establish an elected board of directors from amongst the membership has been implemented. While this system works and there are few alternatives if any, there are bound to be flaws. Are the individual directors serving the needs of the organization or is there an ulterior motive for their time and dedication? Are the decisions being made the best decision or should there have been more research and input?

Naturally we expect that the individuals being put forth for directorship do have the best intentions and in almost all situations we believe this to be true. Most non-profit boards are comprised of volunteers who have an affinity in one way or another for the organization. Their altruism should be celebrated and appreciation given for their time and dedication.

So where does this leave the regular member who consistently pay their annual membership dues, who may or may not participate in various events and offerings of the organization however may want to have a say in the organization. While organizations are open to connecting with their members and have various opportunities and channels to do so, the ability to make any meaningful change comes once a year at the annual general meeting.

This comes to the forefront for us as at the Assiniboia Chamber of Commerce as our Annual General Meeting is scheduled for April 20, 2017. Throughout the year we provide many opportunities for our membership to engage with their chamber. We develop monthly topics and speakers for the member meetings, provide organizational updates through our E-news and event notices, have a variety of sub-committees that develop actions and guide the chamber operations, implement educational/professional development seminars, monitor government actions and present position briefings to our elected officials and much more.

Through these annual operations events we look to have our members participate and engage in their organization through attendance, feedback and referrals. However, we have seen the current work/business environment creating a high demand on our business owners and managers and time away from the business is valuable. We are fortunate in the Assiniboia Chamber that our membership has and continues to have a vested interest in the organization. While member events are continually evolving to better reflect the needs and interests of our membership, there is still room for more member engagement and input.

This is achieved at the annual general meeting where our members have a vote in the chamber operation and the composition of the board of directors to represent the needs of the business community and our community in general. The democratic process of our society is something to be cherished and valued. It is at the time of these annual meetings that the members have a true say in the organization through their vote. Whether you are a member of our chamber organization or other organization, we suggest that you consider being engaged with your organization and attend your annual general meeting.

Richard Halliday

President & CEO

Assiniboia Chamber of Commerce

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