Today I was going to write about a public relations/marketing committee meeting I attended. The content might have included something about the importance of reaching out to others in your field. Or maybe it would have been about how to conduct an interview. Perhaps I would write about punctuality or being a better listener.
But instead I’m going to write about how my supervisor and I sat in the conference room for 15 minutes waiting for nobody to show up.
My supervisor told me four to eight of the fifteen-committee members usually show up to any given meeting, which is held once a month. Today only one member was scheduled to attend. He never showed up. Apparently this is the only time in the committee’s history she had this problem. She was hoping to discuss strategies on how to distinguish our nonprofit from competitors.
Why am I writing about this? Because it highlights one of the challenges nonprofits and other small-staff, volunteer-based organizations face on a regular basis. Maybe today was an anomaly because people wanted to get as much work done as possible before Thanksgiving weekend. It’s also much easier to persuade people to show up to meetings and discuss business when their job pays them to do so. The question is how do you get people involved during their free time?
Strategies vary from using social media and appealing to businesses to engaging a person’s sense of obligation or duty. All of these are effective strategies. Sometimes, like today, you also have to accept circumstances as they come. Not everyone has the time or will to commit their free time to your cause. While I was disappointed I couldn’t reach out to anyone new today, I wasn’t bitter and I didn’t blame anybody. The experience was still a valuable learning opportunity that helped me understand my organization’s inner workings better.