Updated: Fri 29.Jan 2016
Beverly Helms Acceptance Speech
Sharing Our Vision
Strenghtening Our Society
Beverly Helms has been nominated as DKG International President 2012-2014. Here is her acceptance speech, July 28th 2012:
What an amazing convention we have had. Thank you, again, New York members and each one who contributed. Dr. Jensi Souders iterated the progress we have made. We must build on it as we continue to address our challenges. Cynthia Barton Rabe, an innovation strategist and author of The Innovation Killer, says we cannot let what we know limit what we can imagine. She warns organizations against struggling with a paradox of expertise, in which deep knowledge of what exists in an organization makes it harder to consider what - if strategies.
She writes, “Sometimes best practice, and other corner stones of an organization’s success may become millstones that threaten to sink
it.” As DKG members, we cherish our ways and customs but, it may be helpful to look at our organization as if we are seeing it for the first time.
Sarah Sladek, author and founder of XYZ University, helps organizations remain relevant to future generations. In her book, The End of Membership as We Know it, she suggested steps that organizations should consider for continued growth in a changing market. I want to share a few.
First, we must continue to find our focus. We must continue to ask ourselves, why we exist. Can we define with clarity our reason for being?
Are our state organizations and chapters focused? Or, are we trying to do too many things? Are we trying to be all things to all people? If we are, we may become diluted, lose value and our membership will continue to shrink. “If we are diligent about our focus,” Sladek suggests, “we will be competitive in attracting and retaining members.” Struggling chapters may need to review the Successful Chapter Practices and other resources in the Go to Guide.
Secondly, we must set significant goals. The Administrative Board will continue to oversee strategic action planning. The process is as important as the plan, if not more so. Chapters must discuss priorities, where they are in relation to their priorities and, where they would like to be.
Chapters should ask each member what she wants and needs from DKG. Unless those needs are met, members will continue to resign. In the Survey of Reasons for Dropped Membership, collected in April of this year, 44% cited family and professional reasons, 17% said, economics, 11% indicated meeting times and sites not compatible, 5% said the chapter was not meeting their needs. Twenty two percent of those responding to the same survey said that the Society did not understand what they needed to be successful at that stage in their career. However, an encouraging response from 70% of those responding said that if asked they would reinstate their membership. A large percentage would come back if we asked them….
Perhaps chapters need to have an open dialogue with members. Asking questions such as what would you like from this organization? And, how can we help you? Recently, I did, and a response from an actively employed educator was, “the thing that most impacts educators is education policy and I don’t hear a dkg voice advocating for legislation that is in the best interest of education and women educators.” Knowing that our 4th purpose is to initiate, endorse and support desirable legislation, I ask you, do we have a voice in that which most directly affects our actively employed educators? We can’t let what we know or think we should be doing limit us from becoming what we can imagine.
Thirdly, we must continue to make the most of marketing. We know who can benefit from being a part of our organization. We need to understand the motives behind their membership. We must determine what differentiates us from other organizations. We must understand that in order to compete for our members’ time, energy and resources.
If we are going to make the most of our marketing efforts, we must identify our core benefits, those that are of most value to most members as well as prospective members.
You know the benefits of belonging to the Society. Members who never go beyond the chapter level are often unaware of the benefits of belonging. What we offer, our benefits is a critical selling tool. We are functioning in a competitive environment. Many organizations and other entities are vying for our members’ time and resources. We need to be sure every member is fully aware of all the benefits of our organization. We have to share this information frequently.
We need to share our vision. Until every member in your chapter understands the benefits of belonging and our vision as an organization, you are in danger of losing them. Members want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and DKG is. We must connect with, and engage members who are marginal, those with young children, the older member who can’t drive at night, those with professional responsibilities who miss our meetings. And the list goes on.
We should develop or enhance our relationship building process; one in which every member in our chapter is reached and engaged. We cannot leave it to chance.
Fourthly, as an organization, we have to identify obstacles to our growth. We need to intentionally attract younger members, and continue to expand our knowledge and use of technology. In the current state organization presidents’ reports, 56% of our chapters indicated they were growing or maintaining a successful chapter. 44 % reported their chapters needed energy, were losing members and needed help and/or were at risk of dissolving.
An eye opener for me was that over 20% of the state organizations reporting, did not have strategies for identifying chapters needing attention. That means many of our state organizations are unaware of chapters needing help until it is almost too late.
One state organization president reported, and I quote, “I know how hard international and the states work to assist chapters. We have an aging membership and many of our members don’t have the stamina or will to recruit new, younger members. Our employed educators are stressed with professional obligations and families. Members drop out because of higher dues, time constraints, and lack of understanding of the value of their membership.”
Another said, “I think there needs to be more communication between international, state and chapter committees.” Others said, “Communicate more, develop a member revitalization plan for the chapter, and send email communications to chapter as well as state organization presidents.”
Excellent information is contained in the reports that state organization presidents complete. We must hear their concerns and develop strategies to address them. Thirty years ago in Atlanta at the International Convention, a research project was presented to all Executive and Administrative Board members and mailed to every chapter president.
Let me quote from it. “Society concerns include too few young members, too many apathetic and non- productive members, too many members unaware of/ or un-interested in the activities beyond the local level. Better communication is needed from level to level. Low visibility in the local community, failure to reach out to non-member educators and the general public, are problems we face.”
Those words are contained in A Beacon to the Future by Dr. Yvonne Weber. Our membership at that point was over 155,000. Following that research, our total membership increased an average of 2,000 members a year until 1991 when we reached our peak of nearly 169,000. (168,666.) Our membership as of June 30 was nearly 90,000 members.
We are certainly not the only organization or institution experiencing declining membership. Most are. However, this is our organization and we want it not only to thrive but to remain relevant to future generations. I feel strongly that we must continue to attract younger educators, AND, at the same time, we must take better care of our own. Each year, we lose twice as many members as we initiate. We must connect with, engage and build better relationships with our own members.
A personal goal of mine is to increase communication at all levels; to communicate, personally, with every member of our Society. It can be done electronically with those who have email, twitter accounts or who can access the internet. We need to explore bulk emailing so that I can communicate as a member to our members. The email addresses must be in the international data base and correct. An encouraging note is that now every member can update her own contact information in the international data base via the DKG Social network.
In closing let me remind you, we have the most wonderful organization in the world. There are only four people in this room I would know but for Delta Kappa Gamma. I love this organization. I have been blessed by the friendships, global affiliation, scholarships, networking, leadership development, and many other opportunities DKG affords.
Let’s not lose momentum as we transition to the new biennium. We are going in the right direction. We have Activated our Vision -Advanced our Society, Embraced Our Vision - Designed Our Future. Would you join me in Sharing Our Vision – Strengthening Our Society.
We can do that by making sure we are focused, and putting first things first. We must set significant goals, especially at the chapter level. Chapters must identify and deal with the obstacles they face. We must share the benefits of belonging to our organization, and share the aspects that differentiate us from other organizations.
We strengthen our Society as we share our vision and build relationships within our chapters; as we connect with and engage every member. The chapter is the heart of our Society. Membership begins and ends there. As we continue to support our chapters, we will revitalize our state organizations and strengthen our international Society.
As your President, I may not do things the way you think I should. I will disappoint some of you, but I hope we can talk about it, maintain an open dialogue, discuss the what ifs, without getting defensive. This biennium is not about me. It is about everyone in this room and all our members - Sharing our Vision and Strengthening Our Society.
Updated: Fri 2.Nov 2012