At the recent AGM I described the importance to Transition New Mills of the membership, and outlined how things had changed in the previous 2 years of its existance
Last year (2013/14) Transition New Mills had 24 members. 5 of these were new last year. This is good, and they enabled us to achieve more tangible outputs than we achieved in the previous year, although this was itself one of trying to get the project established.
However, membership last year was down on the previous year, by 15 people. And it is clear that both older (retired) and younger people (under 18) appear to be significantly under-represented.
Does this matter? I would argue that it does; consider the following reasons:
- it’s true that we want to encourage more people to participate in our projects, and welcome anyone joining in and contributing. But membership is a great way for people who agree with its principles to strengthen that support because it gives you the power to influence the direction of projects and the way the group is run, gives you a greater level of ownership and belonging, and helps the group start new projects (or ultimately exist at all!).
- there is a modest membership fee to those who can afford it (although it is free to under 18s, reduced for unwaged or if you can’t afford it). There’s obviously a lot more to membership than the subscription, but this income is absolutely essential for us to cover certain types of expenditure for which it is very difficult to get grant money; in particular ‘revenue’ type items such as for room bookings, leaflets and publicity, and other sundries. These are just the sort of items needed in particular at the start of projects before any grants can be applied for. So membership constitutes an essential stream of resources.
- a group with a low membership can lack credibility, particularly with funding bodies. It may struggle to demonstrate that it has sufficient support to make it worthwhile funding, or potential new members may look at it and think it isn’t worth joining.
I hope that you were enthused by the things that Transition New Mills has done over the last year and more, as described in the AGM report. We now have a well-established group, and we are supporting in particular those projects which people said they wanted most. There are now many examples of tangible improvements happening because of the great efforts and contribution of our supporters; members and non-members.
I hope you feel able to demonstrate your support and confidence in Transition New Mills by either renewing your membership if you were a member last year, or joining up now as a new member. We’d be particularly pleased to see more involvement from younger and older people. Join us, tell your friends, or if you’re not yet convinced, come and join in with a project (or start your own!) and see what a difference you can make!
Forms for both new members, and a shorter one for renewals, can be found on our website, or attached to this post – please return with the appropriate remittance to me, or look out for us at local events, where you will also be able to join.