Friday, May 2, 2008

Gas prices fueling lower attendance

A colleague received a letter from a Board member today resigning due to the rising cost of gas prices. Has to drive several hours monthly to Directors meetings. In theory each position should be so valuable that no one would object to personal expenses to participate; in reality we compete for member time and now also more member money as the costs to volunteer rise with gas prices (especially in geographically large states like mine).


1. Consider alternate forms of meetings (webinars, calls) - although as much as I like technology I do find those to be really distant to live meetings in effectiveness for real conversations;

2. Reduce the number of meetings. Does any group (other than for social or legislative purposes) EVER need to meet monthly?

3. Provide partial or full reimbursement for gas costs for volunteers on key groups - or provide if past a certain distance (e.g. over 50 miles).

While not a fan of the "paid volunteer" approach, with gasoline costs what they are and the impact that the economy has on certain professions, I do believe it's reasonable and timely to really look at potentially paying mileage or gas expenses to meetings right now.

In addition, if you've had too many meetings for too long, this is a great time to have the discussion about cutting back from monthly to quarterly meetings, or quarterly to three times a year. It's also a great time to try social media options to reduce fees and provide alternate ways for involvement.

Separately, gas prices will surely impact conference and committee meeting attendance too. Might want to look at options to reduce costs anticipating higher travel costs to get there.

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