Groups, where only the dues fees are paid and no interactions are required have very little benefit as far as social capital goes for the individual. Freemasons just to attain membership must do much more than pay their dues fees. They must memorize passages from the Old Testament relating to the group. This level of commitment is rare for most groups.
The photo above shows a statue of Ben Franklin, a man from a very large family who had to make his own way in the world. He used fraternal groups for introductions to prominent members of Philadelphia and through connections he managed to expand his printing business.
The book on the far right is of Will Rogers, an interesting character who used rope tricks from the cowboy rodeo shows to engage and entertain crowds. He was also known for humor, with many quotes still attributed to him.
The last thing this photo shows is Langhorne’s Plutarch series of books,1826. This set of books could often be found in the few books that traveled west in America’s expansion during the early 1800′s with the explorers and settlers. The reason may be found in the in depth contrast and comparison Plutarch conducted between high status people in the ancient world.
The study of such people’s lives was still considered important centuries later and for the settlers this book set for many, along with Bibles owned by nearly every family would find its way on the frontier. Books were considered important and worth the weight to bring along. Status and accomplishments go hand in hand. History records high status individuals more often than those less known. You may not be recorded into the history books, but you can make an important contribution towards your favorite group if you take the empowered volunteer route.
One premise of this site is that an individual in a group can make an impact on the growth of that group. A few sales techniques and some old fashion pressing the flesh as well as just plain spreading the word will help most groups over a period of time bring in new members. The use of the approach and techniques in this set of posts will take the empowered volunteer far beyond mere chance, allowing for some aspect of control over the time spent prospecting verses the results expected.
Keeping members engaged and happy once they do join will take more than just asking them to join and then forgetting about them. Some groups today exhibit serious issues concerning membership retention, which place them out of touch with today’s potential members. These issues will require leadership and remedies if retaining members recently brought in is desirable. Perhaps any issues impacting retention should be addressed before sending out an empowered volunteer?
This site will address several issues facing a recruiter and some facing individual groups. A business methodology will be presented to provide a format for analysis of the issues involved in an organization at the local level. Techniques from sales will be evaluated for use by the recruiters. Examples from researched success stories will be presented to demonstrate how effective membership building can be conducted in even the least agreeable situations.
Concrete ideas for building memberships and overcoming tough issues will be dealt with using real life examples. Finally, a listing of organizations will be presented along with their respective issues. Many of these groups will reflect a drastic population drop over the last few years.
This site is not intended to be the universal instant answer book on membership building. It is intended to provide the empowered volunteer with the tools and methods to start the ball rolling. If a group of individuals should decide to take on the task of building membership, so much the better as long as cooperation among members is maintained.
The individual or group will have to complete their own analysis of the issues at their level and then focus on the potential solutions within their scope of authority. This will truly be a situation where what you put into the effort is what potentially you will get out of it. Put another way, garbage in from a half hearted or lazy analysis will almost always yield garbage out in the form of diminished or inadequate results.
This site will review many fraternal, civic, and Veterans groups. It is suggested that the group use the SWOT analysis, an example of which is provided as a guide only and not as a definitive work which is ready to implement for every case. Very few outsiders not currently located within the local group can assess the group’s issues as well as one of their own should be able to do.
Michael Marmot is a professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London, where he is also the director of International Center for health and Society. He also serves as an advisor to the World Health Organization. His premise concerning our topic from his book, The Social Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity is that someone who has higher status will be statistically more likely to live longer, feel less stress, find themselves more in control of their life than another individual with less social status. This information is the result of nearly 30 years of research he has conducted.
The key to improving the status of an individual is the amount of control one has over one’s life and the ability for an individual to fully participate in society.
Furthermore Marmot writes “Americans are divided in their sports affiliations along class lines—the smaller the ball, the higher the social rank: golf, baseball, football, and basketball”.
An individual who has a lack of control over their life or job function, like those of low rank in the US Military reflect low social status. Playing golf, simply because it is associated with high social status is not enough by itself to automatically pull an individual out of the low status social position if, for example they still live on board the ship rather than off base in a house, possess only a bicycle for transportation rather than a decent vehicle, all while living from pay check to pay check. In short, status is determined by the total package of the individual’s life, not simply one aspect of an individual in isolation.
Another example of social status lies within the military. A person might be of low social status seemingly due to low rank, perhaps enlisted rank 3 (E-3). This is the third step in rank for enlisted members and it is often granted to individuals who sign up for a long training school, without any further criteria. On the other hand, a person who is from the fleet and has “earned” this rank of E-3 before attending school will carry much more status over the instant E-3 if both individuals compete for a position head to head.
In order to further to convey the aspect of status imagine another fleet E-3 has the coveted “SEAL” insignia on his breast, his status is now beyond the reach of the instant E-3 or the fleet E-3, all other circumstances being equal. I can imagine only irregular circumstances where this status comparison would not be true. If the fleet E-3 without the SEAL insignia was perhaps a former E-6 who is near retirement and was for some reason reduced in rank, perhaps his cumulative knowledge and social capital might balance the status of the SEAL.
This is a very rare situation, one I have heard of occurring in the Army once in a while when an officer is allowed to stay in the service but due to manning levels has been reduced in rank (riffed, it is called). I personally have only seen this happen once in my Navy career, to an officer with the rank of Lieutenant who was reduced to an E-6. She was a high status women recruiter division officer who was passed over for promotion and then opted to finish her career of 20 years rather than throw away the last two or three years needed to obtain a pension.
Methods for raising one’s social status vary, but a few include education, relative position of rank or placement in employment hierarchy, monetary compensation for employment, status perception of employment (professor verses teacher, electrician verses electrical engineer), and to some extent perceived esteem between neighbors and friends.
In an analogy on status and inequality one military member of the Navy, an enlisted person with the rank of Petty Officer First Class (E-6) bought a house in a subdivision where his surrounding neighbors were all junior officers or senior enlisted or retired military. He was treated by his neighbors in a “hands off” manor due to his low rank and corresponding lower status as perceived by the neighboring officers and their wives. The neighboring wives ostracized his wife due to her husbands enlisted rank. He had neither the social capital nor the status to contend or balance out the neighbor’s perceptions of inequality.
Status is relative though, from this persons piers he was viewed as high status due to where he lived since they didn’t know of the social stigma associated with being and enlisted man in an officer dominated housing area. In this case, bringing in his high status network companions from volunteer activities to functions at his house eventually neutralized the negative status as viewed by his neighbors, though this happened over considerable time. This is a true story.
To continue our military analogy, perhaps the E-3 obtains a college degree in a soft major, such as psychology. His or her status is certainly raised when compared to other E-3’s without a college diploma. However, when compared to an E-6 of 7 years who is contending for an officer position and has a high GPA in a hard major, say in electrical engineering the comparison reflects the E-3 as lacking comparable social status due to both time in rank and perceived prestige of each one’s respective education.
Even if the two were of equal rank and time in service, the prestige of a hard major usually supercedes the perception and prestige of a soft major. If furthermore the person with the hard major was adapt at social capital and networking, this person would be more statistically likely to live longer and face the other positive health benefits associated with higher status relative to the lower status individual.
Two military officers meet, it is normal for the senior one to receive a salute if they are in uniform. Then it is customary to notice if one or both have one of the military academy rings. If both have one, this ring “knocking” is said to cement a bond between the two that is worth while, more so than if one or both were not members. This action can occur between members of other colleges as well when they meet.
The individual implications here for the status disparity that is noted are far more than simply to take up golf to get ahead. If someone wishes to position themselves in a potentially higher status position, they would be well served to broaden their social capital by increasing the opportunity of their networking accomplishments, with an emphasis of quality network members. The time spent increasing the quality of a members network has been shown to yield tremendous results. Many famous individuals have experienced this networking perspective, quality beats quantity in nearly every instance.
The prolific business book author, syndicated newspaper columnist, and multimillion dollar business owner Harvey Mackay in his book Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You’ll Ever Need says in chapter 19 on volunteering, “Lesson? You don’t need a Harvard MBA—sometimes referred to as a yuppie union card—to find a network that gives you access to important people in your community. The nominating committee of almost any civic organization is an open season to your community’s leadership.” If you have access to important community leaders in your network (high quality contacts), your climb in status (high quality yield) is sure to follow.
The empowered volunteer must understand that the people he or she helps will increase their social capital and thus increases the likelihood of the many health benefits the studies show are usually associated with joining and participating in groups. Status and social capital are closely intertwined and often very difficult to separate. They are however, something the empowered volunteer must keep in mind when they are positioning themselves to help their group. This is a great selling point if the empowered volunteer can convey the concept sincerely to their potential new members.