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W. Somerset Maugham in The Razor’s Edge (1943) said “Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it. If change is of the essence of existence one would have thought it only sensible to make it the premise of our philosophy.”
All of us are seeing changes in our lives and in our user groups. One must be frank to be relevant; we all need to look at what we are doing and what we need to change to meet the needs of the future. The officers looked at the issues facing all user groups -- declining membership, low attendance and a lack of sponsorship to work with user groups. These are issues we all are dealing with. APCUG is moving ahead with changes to meet the need of user groups. We all have members who resist change, but when we do not try and change we become outdated.
To move forward we have to say thank you to our past contributors. There are many people who have help APCUG grow over the years, and without them we would not be where we are today. As faces change we take time to say Thank You. To those who continue to volunteer to help, we say Thank You, and last to those who have decided to join and help, we say Welcome. If you like to help please let us know.
As part of our look at how we are doing, I’d like to share some discoveries with you, and the changes we made.
We looked at how we are serving you, our members; we looked at the Annual meeting and the expense of holding one meeting a year for fewer than 250 attendees.
We made the decision to discontinue the annual meeting.
Instead we will work to build a network of four to five regional meetings annually. We did this to provide greater relevance to the UG’s from the APCUG.
This year we had 3 events
Over 500 users attended one of these three events, and it doubled our conference attendance figures for the year.
There are two events already in the planning stages for 2009 – one in Phoenix, AZ on Feb 7-8, and another in Zephyrhills, Florida on March 13-15. We are hard at work negotiating for three more events in other areas of the country; and we want to open some of the events to the public, enhancing local UG’s opportunities to gain membership. If you have an inclination to have a regional event or if you have an idea for a regional event, please do not hesitate to contact me. We have the experience, knowledge and the desire to help make these events work successfully.
We looked at how we communicated, and how we can share better.
APCUG offers lot of communications avenues to user groups, including:
We have a core of hard working volunteers called the Board of Advisors. Your regional advisor’s job is to help you help your user group grow, and share information with user groups in your region.
Our efforts to make this information more accessible to you have resulted in the creation of a SharePoint site – sharepoint.apcug.net. This is the place where you can share ideas. find presentations and meeting topics, post your user group meeting information. This is new technology that will allow people to find your meeting and provide the opportunity to build membership.
We can host Virtual Meetings for your user group. Virtual meetings allow you to reach new users and share your meeting with those who cannot physically attend. It also allows you to have vendors do presentations to your group without having to leave the office.
Lastly, we have a group of volunteers working on some new areas for APCUG
These volunteers and many like them are working tirelessly to insure that the APCUG is ready for 21st Century computing that supports user groups like yours. If you want to help these people or see a need to look into a new area, please do contact me.
We looked at whether we are good fiscal stewards of the monies we collect from User Groups and how we allocate that money with which to work, and we are now operating with stricter budgets.
Lastly, we looked at how we work with vendors and what we offer them. You’ll find Claudette Marshall’s article on how the APCUG is changing its relationship with vendors later on in this publication.
That’s a lot to do in a single 12 month period, but we can do lots better than that.
We struggled this year with improving the APCUG web site. We have lots of good ideas but have not yet reached a consensus on how to move forward.
We also wanted to re-vamp the way the photography, website and newsletter contests were managed. Although we’re not through that process, we thought it would be better to hold the contest “as is”, than to wait for any adjustments.
There’s always something in the works at the APCUG. But this year’s set of accomplishments have been remarkable from a number of standpoints.
Now it’s time to take a break, count our blessings with our family and friends, and let those sugar plums dance in our heads.
All the best to you and yours. A very Happy and Healthy New Year to all!