Saturday, October 02, 2004

Does size count?

One of the pre-occupations of the current SAMAA Management Committee is that of increasing SAMAA membership numbers. This activity had been very successful. A few years ago membership stood at just under one thousand. Now it is just over three thousand. There is a kind of unwritten objective to get to five thousand members.

However, I wonder if this drive isn’t misplaced? Is the average member “better off” now with the larger association than he or she was a few years ago? I don’t think I am.

The SAMAA Management Committee is elected by members to look after their interests. All of the Committee members serve unpaid. Most of them have full time jobs. They can devote a limited amount of time to SAMAA affairs. In practice this means that the Committee must set priorities for what it does. Some matters, deserving of the Committee’s attention are given a low priority. Others get more immediate action. Growth is seen as a high priority matter.

But is it?

Is growth in numbers more important than, say, meeting with the Sports Council to agree on International Colours and Team Funding? Or than, say, the revision of the safety code to remove ambiguities with respect to the SAMAA insurance policy? Both these last two matters have been on the agenda for some time, but at low priority.

I can think of one situation where our increased size may not have been to the advantage of members:

The administration of a thousand members can be done part time by one person – just. To run membership administration for three thousand members needs a full-time paid employee. The cost of such an employee adds around R30 per year to members’ subs.

Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against a large Association. I do question whether growth is a high priority matter with our limited resources.

For example a focus on growth leads to an unquestioning willingness to be part of Air Shows – “to get exposure”. SAMAA members give up their time and money to man such events. What benefit to the majority of members was the effort put in at the recent AAD air show? Could we have put the volunteers to a better use?

What do you think? You can use the email facility at the bottom of the SAMAA home page to let me know.

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