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From time to time, I pick out interesting emails/letters/voicemails that we receive at TNM, publish them and comment on them. The names are always withheld unless the person sending it specifies that it's ok to make it public.
What is the price of Texas independence?
I received an email this morning from a gentleman who has been on the periphery of TNM for many years now. I have personally corresponded with him on multiple occasions. The subject of his email is one that we in the TNM hear quite frequently and, therefore, I felt that it provided the occasion to address the topic. Here is the text of the email:
"Daniel, FYI I think your fees are too high. Something like $20-25/year baseline membership would attract a lot more members!" - C
Let me get a few things out of the way right up front for those who are unaware.
1) We are a membership-based organization. We are not a group, a collective, a coffee klatch, quilting bee, a cluster, a congregation, a gang or an unorganized association of random individuals.
2) To become a member of our organization, you must be adhere to our mission and vision and you must shoulder a portion of the financial burden of our work, including supporting you as a member, by paying dues.
3) If you do not wish to pay dues then feel free to show up to our public events, participate in our public conversations on the various social networking sites, share our public information with your friends and cheer us on as we work to accomplish our mission. But, if you do not pay dues, then you cannot be a member of the organization.
What is interesting about these three items is that they are not unique to any membership-based organization that has existed for any substantial length of time. This applies to TENS OF THOUSANDS of organizations. In this sense, there is nothing special about how we do it at TNM.
That being said, the email didn't object to dues but the amount that we are asking people to pay to join. While I appreciate this position, I want to break this down for everyone. But first, a little history.
When TNM started you did not have to pay dues to join. It was free. Guess what? Our membership rolls exploded. What we found out is what other organizations already know. In general, people who have no financial interest lose interest quickly. In addition, the organization could not maintain financial solvency and work to accomplish our mission without steady financial contributions. Simply speaking, it became a choice between supporting a large membership base who only had a momentary emotional interest in our mission or carrying out our mission.
So we made the decision to institute membership dues. When we did so people still joined and they turned out to be great members of the organization. They were more engaged in the organization and were quick to help us achieve our mission.
However, we did eventually respond to pressure to create an associate membership for $18.36 per year. When we did, membership increased - at the $18.36 a year level. At the beginning of the Summer of 2012, we held extensive discussions about the associate membership level. As a result of those discussions, we issued a moratorium on new associate memberships.
The reason was quite simple. At this point in working to fulfill the mission of our organization, we are not looking for people that need further convincing on the issue of Texas independence. We are looking for those who are already convinced. We're not looking for the toe-dippers. We're looking for the steppers.
Let me explain how the issue of dues plays into this conversation.
The defenders of the Alamo left their homes, families, farms, businesses and lives behind, slept and fought in a crumbling adobe mission for 12 days and then gave their lives for the freedom and liberty of Texas.
The Texian Army left their homes, families, farms, businesses and lives behind, trained and drilled on the move, marched half-way across Texas and, while standing on death's ground after Houston burned the ferry, defeated the Mexican Army to secure Texas independence.
The TNM is asking that its members give a minimum of 30 cents a day to secure the freedom and independence of Texas. Period.
I think the point is made without drilling it down any further.
The bottom line is this: The TNM is an organization that is open to all who wish to help us fulfill our mission. The choice is on the individual. The question becomes for the person looking at membership in our organization is simple, "What is freedom and independence in my lifetime worth to me?"