Membership and Friends schemes
Issue 19 / October 2005
In some organisations, such as Dulwich Picture Gallery (page 18), the vibrant, passionate and committed Friends organisation is warmly praised and welcomed for the contribution (financial and otherwise) it makes to the gallery. At Aldeburgh (page 8) the 2000-plus Friends of Aldeburgh Productions are recognised as the backbone of the organisation, responsible for a hugely significant proportion of ticket sales. And such was the outstanding response by the Friends of the National Galleries of Scotland to the fundraising campaign for its Playfair Project (page 6) that a full-time membership officer is now going to be appointed to take care of members.
In other organisations the experience is very different. Decisions such as that taken by the Edinburgh Book Festival (page 10), to re-launch its Friends when it became clear that the costs of running its scheme were out-weighing its benefits, are difficult to swallow and should never be taken lightly. Friends organisations have the unfortunate habit of becoming decidedly unfriendly if the perks and privileges they have grown accustomed to are ever threatened by the changing commercial needs of the organisations to which they are affiliated, and in theory supporting.
Take volunteering, for example. Lyn Blackadder (page 20) warns against influential and well-connected Friends who come to believe that their work as volunteers entitles them to have a say in how their affiliated organisation is run on a daily basis. Woe betide the marketing manager who takes steps to disabuse them of this notion – particularly if the volunteers also happen to be well-connected and wealthy individuals who are used to wielding considerable influence in other aspects of their lives.
So, whether you’ve got a scheme, and think it needs an overhaul, or you haven’t got a scheme, and think you’re missing a trick, there’s no time like the present to start considering your options. Alix Slater (page 16) offers a useful framework to get you started.
Guest editors: Brian Whitehead and Liz Hill
Any thoughts, comments or suggestions for JAM? Please email the Editor, Jacqueline Haxton at email@example.com.