Yesterday I was (happily) a bystander in one of those interactions that are so prevalent in smallish volunteer organizations coping with the new media. Out of the blue, my church’s Green Team (our environmental conscience) got an email from someone no one had heard of before, telling them they should “champion, promote and implement the conversion of our tree eating, postage wasting newsletter to an internet version.” Yikes.
Astonishingly, our very kind and patient Green Team co-chair bristled and let the person have it. She noted that they were just a small group of volunteers who didn’t have a magic want. Then other church leaders weighed in, pointing out, for example, that online actually is the primary mode of distributing the newsletter.
Eventually the thread made it to the Communication Committee (AKA Comm Comm). It’s where newsletter responsibility actually lies. Comm Comm is a sizable group, full of older, less-than-reticent members, and at that point, there was much hilarity. Thank heavens. It was absolutely the right response. We’ve been down the online-vs.-print road goodness knows how many times in the last few years. If I could have an ounce of chocolate for every hour Comm Comm has spent talking about and working on this issue, I’d be a very fat diva.
Yet still there is so much to see and learn from this kind of interaction. The take-aways for me right now are:
- Humans yearn for the simple. Alas, the shift into new media is anything but simple.
- Volunteers are fragile. They are at risk for lack of appreciation, and having a healthy, vibrant community to disperse such issues into is a wonderful antidote.
- Good humor can save the day when dealing with complex issues mixed with tender feelings.
What do you take away?