Actually, the previous forums were also open to non-members and members. There eventually became some technical issues that, at least as I understand it now, apparently kept people from being able to access the forums, which is something I wasn’t fully aware of until not long before Sean took over management of the guild.
but other than a handful of members who do communicate on the public section of this board, it feels like a large majority of the members are not active in the guild itself. What would you do to involve those members back with the guild and help increase their presence to non-guild members?
First, obviously neither I nor anybody else president can force current members to be more active. There are always going to be members who either don’t have time to participate or, for whatever reason, are unwilling or unable to participate. Second, the furry writing community is hardly a cohesive one. It’s made up of a lot of small groups, and although five or six years ago I might have spoken in idealistic terms about trying to bring everybody together, I now know that’s probably unrealistic. On the other hand, it’s been pointed out, fairly, that there isn’t a great deal for members to do other than have their bio on the members’ page (which does have some merit) and vote in the Coyotls.
Any organization like this walks something of a tightrope between encouraging new members and serving the current ones, but I feel the emphasis needs to be serving the membership – finding out what members’ needs and goals are and, guided as much by that as possible, finding opportunities to help members promote themselves and their work, and creating projects that will help them in their goals. One of the biggest things that will help is having more communication with, and feedback from, the membership as a whole – preferably through an email list, something sent directly to them instead of being posted on a forum that, as you point out, a lot of them don’t regularly visit. If we can find good, practical ways to provide more value to the members – things that you can only benefit from by attaining membership – then it seems to me that that in itself will encourage membership.
As far as increasing their presence to non-guild members, the main place for that interaction to happen is in the forums, as well as through the mentorship program. I’m not part of that program right now and don’t have access to those forums, so I honestly don’t know whether the mentorship program is working well or somewhat or not at all – but if it’s working I’d like to keep it going, and if it isn’t, I’d like to either figure out how to fix it or scrap it entirely in favor of something else.
All that said, I’m going to be honest: I really can’t promise to get more of the current members active. No one can, of course. In any organization or project that requires more than one person, there are always going to be some members who are more active and involved and willing to participate and sacrifice their time and energy for others, and there are always going to be others who can’t do those things or choose not to. That’s true with writers’ organizations, homeowners’ associations, churches, what have you. All I can promise is to do my best to lead the horses to water.