Numbers

December 19th, 2006 by bebersghost

Have you ever seen this happen? A member spends a lot of time planning an event, and then is disappointed because of poor turnout. There are two main reasons why turnout to an event might be poor. It might be bad timing – a holiday during which many members are out of town, or an evening where a major community event (like a prom) is going on. It might also be bad promotion – an event planner can do a great deal to promote strong attendance at an event by talking about it beforehand and even calling people to ask them to attend.

While there are some cases where poor turnout is a serious problem – say, when you’ve spent money to reserve a facility and need a certain turnout to cover your costs; in most cases the problem is one of attitude. The program planner starts the event feeling upset and maybe rejected. He or she feels discouraged and loses enthusiasm for the event before it even begins, and as a result, the event does not live up to its potential.

Whether it’s attendance at an event or chapter attendance at a convention, too much focus on numbers can lead you to miss out on things that are even more important. Smaller turnouts present unique opportunities – especially for larger chapters. Fewer people at an event means more time to interact with each one. It can mean more personal attention to prospectives or younger members. It can mean a chance to start or strengthen a friendship.

I’m not suggesting that you should go out of your way to reduce attendance. Simply suggesting that when fate brings you an event with a smaller turnout, look at that as an opportunity.

For example: one of the best chapter trips I ever went on consisted of four Alephs and one advisor in a car. We had a great time, and the small size of the group gave us flexibility to improvise along the way and to allow each person to see or do the things they wanted to do (which can be much harder with a larger group).

Numbers are important. Every chapter wants to engage as many members as possible at every event. But never forget that quantity is not a substitute for quality. Judaism teaches us that to save one life is to save the world (because you are saving their children and their children’s children). From this we learn that it is the action that is important, not necessarily the scale of the action. Or put another way: An event with twenty members might be huge fun but scare away a self-conscious prospective. The same event with five members might allow that same prospective to feel safe enough to stay for the event and start him on the road to self-confidence and chapter leadership and ultimately change his life. You’ll never know one way or another, but that’s not important. What matters is that you treat the five person event with the same enthusiasm and dedication as the one with twenty. Do that and you’ll rarely go wrong.

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