I hope you’ll indulge me (Nancy) as I end my term with this set of answers to Frequently Asked Questions. Our time together this weekend is short, and any of these questions can lead to an hour’s discussion. All of these questions have been hashed out before. If you’re new and you still have comments or other thoughts on these general topics, do speak up! We’ll make a note of it, but schedule a longer discussion for some time later (and we may have fun with noting that the topic is one that just will not die!).
- 1. Why are the dues so high?
- Something is “expensive” if it’s not perceived as a good value. If you are paying dues to AAUW, but not taking advantage of the information, programs and campaigns provided by the national staff, then, yes, the dues may seem high. You can probably find a book group in your neighborhood – no dues. You can probably meet friends in the community and find folks to go to lunch with – no dues. However, if you want to be a member of a community of powerful advocates who advance equity for women by breaking through educational and economic barriers, please acknowledge that important and difficult effort has a significant cost. The more you get engaged in the organization, the more you will gain from your membership, and the more your dues — and, indeed, additional contributions — will seem a fair price to pay for the work that we do.
- 2. Have we considered distributing the Tar Heel News via e-mail?
- We’ve considered, but rejected the idea. There are a number of reasons:
- The Tar Heel News has been posted on the website since Fall 2003, so those who want an electronic version have access to it.
- We get our mailing information from the Association (1100 – 1600 addresses depending on whether the at-large members are included). It would be an extra step to keep the “e-mail list” locally and ensure the e-mail addresses are kept up to date. Our limited administrative resources are needed elsewhere.
- It costs us about $.20/copy to print – less than it would be for members to print on their own, even if they used double sided printing.
- It costs us about $.30/copy to mail with a periodical permit, and the expense is covered in our base budget, without fundraising.
But the primary reason is the Tar Heel News is the one physical item that AAUW NC produces. For those without e-mail, and for those who are connected to the ‘net but prefer to (or must) spend their computer time on activities other than AAUW, it is the only way to get our message to them. While we realize that a paper periodical may be as easy to ignore as an e-mail message, we hope that sending an e-mail with the notice that the online version is posted and sending a paper copy to each member in US Mail maximizes the chance that members will read at least some of each issue.
See also the survey on the Tar Heel News usage.
- 3. Why don’t we get annual program packets/study guides like we did years ago?
- The Association has moved from that format to one where programming has been based on the Educational Foundation research. For instance, after the publication of “Gaining a Foothold: Women’s Transitions through Work and College,” the Association provided a “Transitions Conference Program Guide” to help branches arrange conferences for women returning to college. There are longer term arcs of programming: from the publication of “Tech-Savvy: Educating Girls in the New Computer Age” through the current work with the National Girls Collaborative Project to encourage girls in science, technology, engineering, and math. Public policy based projects (from voter education to pay equity and beyond) have libraries of resources on www.aauw.org: branches can choose to study the position papers, run a quick project, or something in between. The Legal Advocacy Fund, too, has “hooks” for branches to study the underlying issues (tenure, sexual harassment) and to apply for campus outreach project support. As the Association and the Foundation combine their efforts even more closely over the next year, this trend will not reverse.
- 4. Why do we get so little in the US Mail? Must we go to the website for everything?
- See #1 and #3. The AAUW program is now very broad and deep. It’s making available an enormous number of resources, that can only be distributed in electronic form. We simply cannot afford to keep the dues at any reasonable level and ensure that each member (or even each branch or state) gets a paper copy of everything that the AAUW produces. The new web site has a clearer navigation, a good search, and well chosen “quick links” to get to the resources. The harder problem may be how do you know that something is there for you to pull from the web site? That’s an issue we’re trying to address with the e-newsletters (which are all archived on www.aauwnc.org), the Tar Heel News, presentations and printouts at state meetings, and state officer visits to the branches. Please encourage all members to pay attention, make a note of what items are available, and then ask for help (contact a state officer or call 866-525-2155 for AAUW NC or 800-326-2289 for the national helpline) in finding/printing what’s needed.
- 5. Why can’t AAUW do (fill in your pet idea here)?
- Well…. We are AAUW. We have a very small staff that works enormously hard to serve the branches and the members and advance the mission in ways only they can. If there’s a public policy position paper that they haven’t been able to research, check with the Public Policy Committee then work on it! If there’s a program idea that you’d like to explore, have one of the state officers use the national e-mail lists to see if there’s someone else in the country working on that, form a team and produce a program guide. AAUW is beginning to use social networking sites like Facebook to support teams of members from around the country — but the names and contact information for national leaders and state presidents are available to you (from the web — or call 866-525-2155), and nothing says you can’t use the phone or US Mail to jump start an effort. Alternatively, consider starting a fundraising campaign that would allow AAUW to hire special staff or fund special research to address your idea. Time or money – your choice! Advancing equity for women and girls takes all of our ideas and energies. Do “join” with a capital-J and strengthen AAUW with your talents!