@Xanthe_Matychak The statement that “it [IG’s membership model] failed” is predicated on some (unexpressed) idea of what “success” means/looks like for Generator. Lets continue that discussion here, and I hope others will participate.
Giving it some consideration, Ithaca Generator is only about a year and a a half old. Changing the organizational model from “membership-funded” to “something else” seems like it could be a pretty drastic course of action at this stage. I don’t know where to go with that sentiment though. I’m not inclined to “yes-and” it…
Generally I think it’s more productive to think of things we are doing as an organization as having “opportunities for improvement.” Could Generator be serving its existing membership better? Could Generator be making a more compelling argument for people who are not-yet-members to become members? Almost certainly the answer is yes to both of these questions. I think we should focus discussion on how we might make improvements in these areas, tempered by the recognition that we have to operate within a resource constrained environment (principally by physical space, time, and money).
Then up to now, we’ve been a success with the membership model.
From the beginning, it was always assumed that our income would come from a mix of membership dues, class income, and perhaps grants. So far, that’s worked out.
Membership accounting right now is behind where it should be. We are working on getting that up to date. We have missing members, and some are being tracked down. For the most part, the status reports I’ve been seeing posted to the Board are finding a member who has slipped through our cracks, and them expressing continued interest. Some of our membership are students, and students leave. So continued new member outreach is something we should work on.
(I’ll note that we had identified a messaging issue: a number of users of our space (class students, etc) didn’t know what we were or why we were there. If people who walk in the door don’t know enough about us to consider membership, how will we ever reach those who don’t walk in the door?)
Classes have been going well. While I have occasional differences of opinion with the education committee about the cost structures of our classes, they have generally been bringing in income.
If we do decide to change our focus and “organizational structure”, I think we need to make sure we are staying within the bounds of our charter and governing documents. Some of the requests we have been getting and turned down feel (to me) too much like straying into a commercial enterprise for my comfort.
Guess we’re not yet at the point where we have hard enough data to talk more about mission or vision… Although, it would be interesting to see the back of the envelope numbers or at least percentages. Should we also consider that this is an open forum which includes all members-- not just the board.