[AUUG-Talk]: AUUG Membership Lapse

Stephen Jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Fri Sep 15 09:40:56 EST 2006

Joel raises some *excellent* points here.
I think it's a little unfair to compare IEEE's member benefits to AUUG -
the proportion of overheads because of membership numbers is completely

But the basic notion of "Value" is sound...
And for many years members have stayed members for the reasons Joel gives
- the conference and AUUGN... And Greg's point about the lack of new blood
goes to the heart of the matter.

Here's the most basic thing I've not seen in the last 5 years - and can't
find in a quick trawl of the websites (even in "Roles, Policy and
Procedures") - where's the Business Plan and the Marketing Plan??

How about looking at what *successful* organisations do?
Like SANS: http://sans.org
They formed in 1989 around a subject I don't think you can beat for
*boring* - security.  Sure, "9/11" gave them a really big boost - but they
were already on firm ground and gaining strength.

They understand "value" and benefits - and that you need to actually run
the association as a *business*.  They probably have even trained some
people in the management of not-for-profit businesses (yes, it is a well
known speciality, well serviced). They may even had the odd independent,
external review and development plan done...

I'd have liked the AUUG Board to talk to the people that made SANS so
successful and even tell the 'lowly grunts' about it...
With our collective contacts, this should be simple to organise.

There's the question of over-expectations.
When I revived the CBR chapter - at one time was arguably the most
successful ever chapter of AUUG, and blessed with an unusual number of
world-class developers including OzLabs - it went for most of a year and
died when the committee lost heart.

People in the committee were dissappointed by what they thought were low
turn-outs to the "mini-conf" events that we put on.  I thought 25 or so in
CBR was *good* - and we asked for a small entrance fee. ($5?)

My point here: It takes time to build - committees need support and
encouragement - and help understanding they *are* making a difference.

I wanted to run another local chapter conference  and  put together a
proposal based around all the fine people I know here (and there would be
more!).  One of the innovations I wanted to introduce was an advertsing
supplement (lift-out) in the one local newspaper - THe Canberra Times.
You get 60% editorial space *for free*. I.e. if you sell 2 pages of
advertising, you get another 3 pages *free* to fill with text. AND you can
get "over-runs" printed at the time very very cheaply...

yeah, well, we know it never happened...

Lawrie organised CBR chapter conferences for many years. When he let it
go, the next organiser didn't make a go of it and it was abandoned after
the next 'abort'.
These summer conferences were always well attended and turned in profits
of $20,000 and more... Never even close to a loss.

Here it is plainly:

  The Board, while composed of good people, capable and well-intended, is
the major problem...

We've seen multiple Boards, and they've all delivered the same...

Fix the Board, Fix the Association.

You've all seen Enno's response to my previous e-mail.
he quoted 2 lines and as if demonstrating my point, ignored the content -
that the Board has consistently ingored all communications from me...

I don't give a fig if that's intentional or deserved - it's absolutely not
showing respect for a member.  What's the collective IQ, contacts, time
and experience of AUUG?  Huge.  How was the Board leveraged that??
Not at all AFAICS.

There's the nub of the matter, and it's also the start of a solution....

On Fri, 15 Sep 2006, Joel Sing wrote:

> Hi All,
> I've been meaning to sit down and put these details on "paper" for sometime - 
> the sudden flurry of activity on AUUG Talk finally prompted me to get it 
> done. So, to the key reason for my email - what does AUUG membership provide 
> that meets or exceeds the $125 cost of membership?
> At the end of last year I let my membership lapse, simply because there is no 
> cost value justification as far as I'm concerned. In the grand scheme of 
> things $125 is not a lot of money, but it isn't worth it for what I get in 
> return. Sure there's a list of "benefits" for being a member:
> http://new.auug.org.au/membership/index/
> However, few of them are of use or of interest to me. I believe I was the one 
> who suggested (several years ago!) that CDs be mailed out with the AUUGN. 
> Back then it was of great benefit as most of us were on dialup and grabbing a 
> ISO of <insert OS here> was too much to withstand! Nowdays most people have 
> access to broadband and grabbing an ISO (or several ISOs) is simple, cheap 
> and fast. Sending out DVDs is now longer a large benefit as I see it.
> Discounted registration to conferences is probably the only real reason to 
> justify membership, except I rarely pay for the conference as I usually 
> present a paper or run a tutorial (or both). This nullifies the benefit 
> immediately.
> An entry in the AUUG directory would be nice, except advertising to the 
> converted is of little value. More business comes via other means, so I can 
> readily do without this. Email addresses and secondary DNS are simply a waste 
> of time - I've got multiple DNS servers and more email addresses than I care 
> to poke a stick at.
> As for the right to use the AUUG logo on business cards, I could however how 
> many of the people receiving them know what AUUG is? AUUG's visibility and 
> identify is not strong enough for me to warrant the inclusion of the AUUG 
> logo on my cards. Personal blog space - why use AUUG over www.blogger.com?
> AUUGN is another tragedy - in my opinion, it alone was enough to justify the 
> membership cost. As for AUUGN archives, it's not current and therefore it's 
> not pertinent to my professional needs (interesting yes, useful no).
> Compare this to membership with IEEE (or pick another organisation). IEEE 
> membership costs $170AUD and the base membership alone provides a huge 
> collection of benefits:
> http://www.ieee.org/web/membership/benefits/index.html
> The IEEE Spectrum magazine is brilliant (insightful, current and thought 
> provoking), not to mention that IEEE is world recognised and high profile.
> So to conclude, I don't mean to be a wet blanket or nit pick AUUG - it's 
> simply that I believe there are many areas that need to be changed and 
> improved if AUUG is going to remain relevant and around for the years to 
> come:
> 1. Membership Fees - These need to be lowered (as I put to the treasurer at 
> the last AGM) or the benefits needs to be increased to match/exceed the 
> value. AUUG is far better off with 100 members paying $50 each, instead of 20 
> members paying $125 each. Even with 50 members paying $50 each (ie. the same 
> revenue), the chances of AUUG growing are better given additional membership 
> base. (I won't mention the letter that I received from AUUG suggesting that I 
> could email my creditcard details for renewal!!!)
> 2. Profile/Image - AUUG's profile needs to be raised and marketed if its to be 
> identified as being *THE* Organisation for Unix, Linux and Open Source 
> Professionals. Who (outside of the AUUG member base) knows what AUUG is? How 
> does the greater community (particulary the IT community) identify with AUUG? 
> Out of interest, what forms of marketing is undertaken, other than mailouts 
> to members?
> 3. Student Members - AUUG needs to be targeting student membership and driving 
> this hard. Students are the ones who become the next wave of industry 
> professionals and if they can identify with AUUG prior to moving into the 
> industry, AUUG is better off. However, once again there needs to be real 
> tangible benefits for being a member, otherwise it won't happen. This is 
> where I started a number of years ago and I remained a member until this 
> year...
> 4. Communication - Previously AUUGN used to be the medium used to communicate 
> with members. Since AUUGN has gone, as far as I'm aware very little 
> communication is had with members other than conference notifications and the 
> like. AUUG needs to keep in regular contact with members, something like a 
> monthly or bi-monthly "newsletter" would be ideal - at least then you're 
> aware that AUUG is still somewhat active.
> There's probably more, however I'll leave it at that for now. I hope that AUUG 
> changes and manages to pick up a pace that sees it continue for many years to 
> come. 
> Cheers,
> Joel
> -- 
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>              => Joel Sing | joel at ionix.com.au | 0419 577 603 <=
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>   "I am very easy to get along with, but I don't have time to waste being 
>    nice to people who are being stupid." - Theo De Raadt
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Steve Jenkin, Info Tech, Systems and Design Specialist.
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA

sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://www.canb.auug.org.au/~sjenkin

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