What Does Membership Matter?

We sometimes get questions from our members regarding our policy that individuals who have attended three chapter meetings must join SCWW or cease attending meetings. In hard economic times, this may seem harsh.

There are at least three ways in which we can look at this issue:

  • Are we asking people to pay too much money?
  • Are potential members aware of what SCWW’s done for them?
  • Why does it seem that we’re always focused on money?

Let me try to address these questions, in reverse order. SCWW must operate in a fiscally responsible manner. The past few years have been tough ones for many people; we understand that. That doesn’t change the fact that our suppliers still expect to be paid. It still costs up-front money to plan each year’s conference. We can’t provide financial support to chapter workshops unless we have adequate funds in our treasury. We have to develop a publication plan for the anthology on the assumption that membership funds will be forthcoming for the projected print run. Running a nonprofit association is a business, albeit one different in some ways from other businesses. In fact, SCWW typically ends the year “in the black,” but not by much. Membership dues provide the greatest component of that net income. This is a fact that will not change.

The annual cost of an SCWW membership includes a monthly newsletter (The Quill). It also includes the right to submit entries for the annual anthology judging (at no extra cost) and for the Carrie McCray awards (at a small extra fee). A one-year individual membership costs less than the submission fees for some fiction competitions. We wish we could get more of our members to attend our annual conference. A one-year membership comes as part of the deal, for non-members. If I may be permitted to encroach on the territory of one of my fellow Board members, if you want to know why it’s a good deal to join SCWW, attend the annual conference. You’ll find that there are few occasions in the writing business where you can make as many useful contacts within a short amount of time.

The cost of a year’s individual membership does pose a barrier to some potential members. On the other hand, there’s no rule against the members of a chapter “passing the hat” to help out a potential member who’s in dire financial straits. An individual membership costs less than I paid twenty-five years ago to belong to my major professional association. It’s about equal to the cost of one Venti Capuccino per month for a year at Starbucks. We all make our individual decisions about the value of things and conduct ourselves accordingly. If you think it over and decide that SCWW is worth the money, thank you. If not, please let us know why not; we need that information to guide us in planning the Workshop’s programs.

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