It’s all about the numbers

Data Source: Roger Bale, SPAH Membership Director

Without people, a membership organization cannot pursue its mission. Failing to attract new members and grow the organization signals either a lack of interest in the mission or problems with membership development.

SPAH’s issue is not a lack of interest in the harmonica. The 21st Century harmonica market supports more manufacturers than ever: Hohner, Suzuki, Seydel, Herring, Lee Oskar, Bends, Huang to name a few. The market also supports a robust craft vendor movement that includes instructional material, harmonica customizers, amp builders, microphone techs and accessory manufacturers . Folks on harp-l and elsewhere describe these days as the golden age of harmonica gear.

There are plenty of harmonica players worldwide and therefore plenty of potential members.

Nevertheless, membership numbers trended down over the last three years as well as over the last 11 years. The difficult economy no doubt affected the situation; however, the current administration’s priorities and spending practices have conspicuously ignored membership development in favor of a near total focus on producing the convention.

Some observations about the data:

  • a 2% drop over 11 years.
  • a 7 % drop over the last four years,

Is a seven percent decline over four years and 11 years of net negative growth an accomplishment? The best face anyone can put on these numbers is SPAH more-or-less maintained the status quo. Personally, I would be disappointed with that performance.

The data illustrates clearly the inevitable conclusion of the current management team’s paralysis by analysis and its convention-centric policies.

Warren and I believe the organization and the convention will not be sustainable over time if future management teams continue the practice of ignoring growth. We plan to make membership development a priority. And we will not to fall prey to paralysis by analysis.

(A Note About the Data: The numbers for the graph come from Membership Director Roger Bale and have been given to both candidates.).

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