COMMITTEE REPORT: Membership Coordinating
Membership: Challenges and Opportunities
Members are the lifeblood of any organization. Attracting new members and retaining existing members is an ongoing challenge and requires constant attention. AAPG faces a number of issues and I hope some of the information provided here will stimulate your interest.
In 2004, AAPG President Steve Sonnenberg requested the AAPG Advisory Council meet to formulate a new Strategic Plan. Past President Dan Smith chaired the effort. The Plan has been reviewed by the Executive Committee and published in the Explorer. It sets out a number of strategic goals as follows:
Clearly, the EC and the AC consider membership to be a top concern. Even more significant, is the vision of the new Strategic Plan that establishes the compass for AAPG’s future course. It provides the organization a core purpose for the 31,681 members. Membership peaked in the mid-80’s and has now declined to the 30,000 range.
BIG AUDACIOUS GOAL
•To be indispensable to all professionals in energy-related geosciences worldwide.
1980-2004 One of the fundamental challenges AAPG faces in achieving these lofty goals is the very nature of the demographics of our membership. A graph of the current age distribution of the worldwide membership shows the characteristic bimodal distribution, with a mean age of 49 years. The bulk of AAPG members are within 15 years of retirement.
Members By AgeOne positive feature of the demographic distribution of AAPG is that a youth “peak” exists in the young professional age group of 20-30. One challenge that is cause for concern is apparent when one reviews the age distribution of the AAPG members whose membership will drop due to non-payment of dues.
By Age This drop stems, at least in part, from the fact that after graduation, members losing their student status are no longer eligible for free membership courtesy of Halliburton. We must address the challenge of retaining this critical group of young people and encourage them to remain as members and recruit their brethren.
In August of this year, AAPG's EC formed a new "Membership Coordinating Committee," with Dan Smith as Chair. It is actively addressing the member recruiting and retention issues through a new “targeted marketing” concept that will target the career needs of our members by age group. Instead of viewing our membership as a uniform group, this approach will target specific services and benefits to “natural” groupings. For example, young professionals rarely worry about insurance, whereas; senior professionals have a profound interest in group insurance programs etc.
An AAPG Headquarters staff member has been assigned to each “targeted group” to help coordinate this program and it will extend to the Divisions and to inter society relationships.
MarketingThe Membership Coordinating Committee is also in the process of launching a “Recruiting Initiative” focusing in its initial phase in Houston, the largest concentration of AAPG members. This is an attempt to mine the Houston Geological Society (HGS) membership data base in conjunction with the AAPG membership data base to identify potential new members for both societies. Although many Houston geologists belong to both HGS and AAPG, surprising numbers belong to only one or the other. The “Recruiting Initiative” will experiment with the new marketing concepts on the individuals who are motivated enough to join one society.
The overarching issue in all this, of course, is for AAPG and its Divisions to become even more vital and stimulating organizations which attract and retain members by the essence of what they do. Marketing is critical, but we can only market real programs, services, and benefits and preach the importance of networking and professional association. It’s up to all us to help AAPG achieve its core purpose!