Membership

Tuesday Buzz: The Membership Plight of a Secret Society

By / Sep 29, 2015 (The homepage of the Latitude Society's apparent web site.)

What happens when a secret society decides to ask for membership dues? The Latitude Society is finding out the hard way. Plus: how to know whether you’re ready to hold a paperless event.

What’s the San Francisco-based Latitude Society all about? That’s hard to figure out because the organization is, well, secret. Look up the Latitude Society on Google and you’ll find a slightly paranoid (and profane) Reddit thread and an ominous-looking login page.

Luckily for us, journalist Rick Paulas took an extensive look at the society’s inner workings, including its intriguing attempt to mix monetization and membership.

The organization’s transformation began with an email delivered to all members:

“For some time now, your provisional membership with the San Francisco House of the Latitude Society has been sponsored by an endowment bestowed by an honored member. The end of this grant and provisional membership grace draws near, and our House will soon be supported by the paid dues of our members.”

That email was followed by a town hall meeting, during which members offered their feedback, though things didn’t go exactly as planned.

“People had a lot of questions, and I think people wanted to feel heard,” Latitude founder and former sponsor Jeff Hull told Paulas. “They were. We gave the idea that a kind of democratic organization was presented. But, in reality, it’s not a democratic organization. That’s why it won’t happen again.”

Paulas’ report, published on Longreads, delves into the society’s struggles with change, membership, monetization, and many other issues familiar to association pros.

Landmark of the Day

That’s a whole lot of breweries! But as the Brewers Association’s chief economist Bart Watson writes in this post, that number doesn’t represent a “saturation point” for the industry. “What it means to be a brewery is shifting, back toward an era when breweries were largely local and operated as a neighborhood bar or restaurant.”

Other Good Reads

If you’re really serious about holding a paperless conference, then you should answer these six pivotal questions from Event Manager Blog contributor Christina R. Green.

Get a peek inside The New York Times’ changing attitude toward the coexistence of editorial copy and sponsored content in the paper’s latest piece on its effort to “survive and thrive in the digital age.”

Need a productivity bump? Check out membership software provider Wild Apricot’s latest podcast episode, featuring productivity guru Ari Meisel.

Morgan Little

Morgan Little is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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