Rethinking YALSA: Member engagement part 2

As YALSA works towards the new intended impact statement laid out in the 2016 – 2018 organizational plan, the board is looking at member engagement opportunities that best fit with the implementation plan to achieve the plan’s priorities. These member engagement opportunities are not only the way that the work of the association gets done, but also are ways to support member to member connections and foster leadership skills.

Right now, most associations are built around a traditional committee model, which were established before virtual work environments were popular. That model requires a long time commitment from members and leaders, demands oversight and input from boards and staff, and is slow to produce results. In many cases, it also limits professional development opportunities by sequestering volunteers away from additional networking and learning activities.

One trend associations are exploring are microvolunteering opportunities, or adhocracies, where interested parties gather together around a need and work for a short period of time to deliver timely, relevant resources. These volunteer experiences can impact a member community much more quickly than the standard model, increase the number of leadership opportunities, and allow members with similar interests to connect with one another. Volunteers are also able to give time as their schedule allows, stepping back and returning to projects as their schedules allow.

Different engagement methods also allow members to better connect with members. YALSA generally receives over 1,000 volunteers for just over 300 committee spots. That leaves at least 700 members interested in doing work that moves the mission of YALSA forward, but with the onus of work on them. They can connect with other members through interest groups, YALS, YALSA Blog, the Hub, Programming HQ, and JRLYA, but those activities aren’t necessarily built around networking and bonding either.

So what does this mean for right now? Well, the board is doing a limited pilot this fall with YALSA’s 7 juries. Sarah Hill blogged about the changes in April, and you can find that post here. It also means the board will be looking at the ways the work gets done, the activities laid out in the implementation plan, and best way to keep members engaged with the mission of YALSA!

Do you have feedback on the organizational plan? Fill out our brief survey here.

About Chris Shoemaker

I'm a YALSA Past President. I blog about YA programming, technology instruction for people interested in teen services, and YALSA governance stuff. I like baking and dislike humidity.
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