[TheThinkTank] Members vs Volunteers: What's the Diff & How Do You Structure It

Josh Bisker jbisker at gmail.com
Fri May 31 11:17:21 PDT 2019

Pals, I'm trying to create clear pathways to leadership/collective
membership for interested volunteers, and trying to have membership be
awesome and not "just like being a volunteer but with more guilt and
obligation and UGH."

How do you approach this stuff in your shop? Do you structure a division
between responsible members and interested volunteers? How do you bring
people across that transition? Also, what's rad about being a member that
makes people want to do it?

Background and concerns: We've got a budding group of charismatic new
volunteers (yay!) and a tired old group of "members" (oy!) i.e. organizers
with decision-making power and some sense of adopted or begrudgingly
accepted responsibility. (In your group, these might be "board members"
maybe?) In the past, we've had either (1) a lackadaisical/non-systematic
approach to elevating members, or (2) an overly structured but not really
effective way of sharing responsibilities. What happens in the first case
is that after someone becomes a member and attends a meeting, (a) they're
like "y'all are boring and this makes my brain hurt" and then decide not to
do "member-y" stuff anymore, or (b) they participate pretty minimally,
leaving the organizational burdens distributed about the same way they were
before. What happens in the second case is that everyone gets exhausted by
trying to administratively caretake an organizational structure instead of
doing the fun work.



Josh Bisker
New York Mechanical Gardens Bike Co-op <http://bikecoop.nyc/>
596 Acres <http://596acres.org/>
Bindlestiff Family Cirkus <http://bindlestiff.org/>
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