How Members Really Vote

by Josh Orendi

Most people think voting happens with a secret ballot or a show of hands in a chapter meeting.  This may be true for official orders of business, but there’s a much more obvious and more powerful voting process that’s happening every day.

Members – college students in particular – vote with their TIME and MONEY.  Every dollar is a vote.  Every minute is a vote. 

Ask your members what they value and you may or may not get an honest response.  But … ask them to pay $10 for that product/service and the true value of your idea is instantly revealed.  Ask them to invest 15 minutes at a non-mandatory meeting and the value of the initiative is revealed. 

An unreturned email is a negative vote.  Perhaps against the content of the message, perhaps against the organization, perhaps against you.  A returned email is a positive vote of continuing engagement.

A member that shows up on time is voting with his/her presence.  So is the member that no-shows.

Attending every social function … missing every service project.  That’s a vote.

A member that pays dues in full is voting, the reverse is also true for the member that stiffed you.

Ask the members if they’d be open to having an expert come work with the chapter.  They usually say “YES!”  Ask them to pay a few dollars per person (outside the budget) and see if support continues.  There’s your vote.

What do your members value most based on how they choose to invest their non-mandatory time and dollars?

Dollars and minutes are voting instruments that are cold, pure, honest, and revealing.  Embrace them.  If a member isn’t willing to pay and/or doesn’t want to show up, that’s a pretty clear vote that you’re not providing something that he/she values.

Q:  Are good members telling you that your idea/organization lacks value, or are you offering a good idea/organization to the wrong people? 

Let me suggest that if they aren’t excited to attend and/or pay a few dollars, they’ve voted.  You either need to offer your members something they value or get members that value what you’re offering. 

A:  When the votes are tallied, if they won’t pay or show up, you either have a leadership problem or a recruitment problem.