Over the years, I’ve had a number of conversations about AANR membership issues. While recruitment and retention are essential to the health of the organization, perhaps the more important questions are: Who are we?, what do we do? what do people think we do? and how can we promote membership value and allegiance?
I recall Ralph Collinson pointing out to the AANR Board about how AANR needs to look at the NRA (National Rifle Association) as an example of membership loyalty. And currently, the Membership Initiatives Committee is examining how we retain members.
In 2012 President Susan Weaver asked for comments and ideas about how we can improve the membership experience and thereby expand our membership rather than watch it compress. SCNA actually went so far as to ask for feedback and Gary Mussell culled the responses into a reply he shared under the title “How To Fix AANR”. Many of the ideas expressed then hold true today. I’m using ideas from that document here to highlight my points.
We need to look at our marketing of the membership experience and see how we can make the wider nudist audience see the need for an organization such as AANR. A non-profit organization dedicated to the idea that without aggressive protection of our ‘right’ to be nude we will lose it. As Trustee, Ronna Krozy opined: “If AANR stood for the Association for the Advancement of Nudists’ Rights, there would be no question as to the purpose of our organization. Unfortunately, many members of AANR remain unaware of the variety of things that the organization does on their behalf. And therein lies a key problem.
While AANR may have believed it was communicating well by publishing its monthly Bulletin to push out news, they now realize and have begun to address the realities of a multimedia world. AANR is now aggressively pursuing social media on many platforms. The 24-hour news and social media cycle requires that we continue to adapt to stay relevant. We need to explain AANR’s actions or reasons for doing what it does and ensure that our members know their ideas are being heard. If we fail in these tasks, then members may decide that AANR is just taking their money with little benefit in return. What AANR doesn’t seem to understand is that ‘the real world’ may be very different from what officers thinks it is and what the membership perceives it to be. Right or wrong, it is the paying membership’s perception that counts.
Let’s go back to Ralph Collinson’s sage idea that we need to make nudists understand that we have lost nude use public lands through the lack of an effective political tool to fight to protect that land use. NRA never misses a chance to scare people into membership and to renew their membership on an annual basis. While there is a right to bear arms, there is not a right to bare arms. We need to make membership and membership renewal as easy as possible. Renewal should be automatic, while a decision to not renew should require action. Automatic renewal helps keep members. provides on-going access to education and information and reminds them we are there trying to protect and expand nude use areas.
We should be capitalizing on our efforts of protecting and expanding places for people to enjoy healthy social nudity. We are not club-centric and we never have been, but this seems to be the public’s general perception. Even our club affiliates acknowledge most of their members come from free beaches. Thus our very clubs depend on having approved public lands.
Perhaps the most telling statement offered in 2012 should be a mantra for change to us today. “AANR needs to re-invent itself beyond the outdated dues-paying club business model. It needs to acknowledge the increasingly spontaneous nature of nude recreation via the Internet. As nudity becomes more mainstream on social networks, the public will grow less and less interested in seeking a sheltered, sterilized club environment. AANR needs to adapt, or only the very large clubs and cruise ships will survive.”
For AANR to move forward we need to be listening to our members as well as non-member nudists who support organized nude use areas. Our membership should be made up of people who want nude recreation to be an option in their daily activities. We need to have AANR reestablish itself as the organization that works to expand and protect nude use as well as protect and promote acceptance of those who choose to enjoy nude recreation.
The AANR Board direction should aim to make AANR what it purports to be, the credible voice of nude recreation. The Executive Director and the staff should be the tools for creating that voice while our membership should be essential to promoting that voice.
In summary…these are some of the things that AANR needs to do:
- Report on positive outcomes to member initiated requests
- Identify and respond to members’ ideas and concerns
- Advertise our efforts and stay current on social media
- Expand our presence at community based events
- Make the membership renewal process automated