Election Forum

STC hosts an election forum here: https://www.stc.org/forums/forum/election/. Each of the positions has its own sub-forum. Members are encouraged to post questions there for each of the candidates to answer. The treasurer sub-forum is where I have responded. I will re-post the Q&A here as well.

Question from Rebecca Firestone

The STC seems to be losing some steam in the past several years. A LinkedIn commenter recently remarked, “I believe every tech writer I know dropped out due to the fees going way up while the services that made the formerly modest dues worth paying are available for free from LinkedIn, Craig’s List, salary.com, etc… Some companies pay for their writers’ memberships and the expensive fees to enter the no-longer-prestigious annual awards.”

While I don’t agree with the sentiments, I would like to know how STC retains its value amongst competition from places like Write the Docs, whether you’ve done any formal assessments on membership satisfaction levels overall, whether the Chapter officers feel that National is supporting their goals, and how you would work to strengthen relations with individual chapters.

My Response

Hi Rebecca,

Thanks for the questions! I’m going to break them down into the individual questions and answer them as best I can. James answered before me and I tried to not read his response, so I apologize if there is too much overlap.

How does STC retain its value amongst competition?
I think one of STC’s great strengths is its members. The Society is driven by volunteers, the vast majority of whom are members. It is in the members’ best interest to have a strong society, and many of them work very hard to make sure everyone’s STC experience is great. To me, one of the best things STC provides is a strong sense of community. My chapter (STC-Philadelphia Metro Chapter) is always reaching out to members, new and old alike. We have spoken at area colleges, started a scholarship, sponsored student membership, and created a mentor program. My chapter has created an STC family, and some of our active members are celebrating 30 years as STC members (and one 35-year membership!). So, I think STC provides a superior community at both the chapter and Society levels. That community helps members succeed professionally as well aiding personal wellbeing by providing a supportive environment.

Have I done any formal assessments on membership satisfaction levels overall?
As a chapter leader, I have sent surveys to my chapter asking about satisfaction, areas of improvement, ideas for what the members would like to see the chapter do. After each meeting, we send a survey about the meeting. At the end of our year in June, we send a survey asking about the past year. We also include surveys as part of our annual conference. My chapter leadership council reviews this feedback and works to improve our processes accordingly.

At the Society level, I know there are surveys that go out about Summit. I’ve seen the feedback for Leadership Day and Virtual Leadership day. The Community Affairs Committee will be reviewing that at an upcoming meeting.

Do the Chapter officers feel that the Society supports their goals?
I’ve been a chapter officer for the past 7 years. During that time, I’ve worked with people from different areas of the Society, ranging from the CFO to CEO, committee chairs to board members. My feeling is that the Society employees work hard to both support and guide the communities. For example, the former CFO worked with the treasurers to create a plan for chapter sustainability. Such a plan benefits communities and the Society by providing low cost best practices. The committees, such as Community Affairs Committee (CAC), take the interactions with chapters to the next level. The CAC more directly interacts with communities and serves to voice the community concerns to the board.

How will I work to strengthen relations with individual chapters?
As noted above, the Community Affairs Committee (CAC) is already in place to work with all of the chapters and SIGs. Each chapter and SIG has a CAC member associated with it. Those CAC members are the liaisons to the communities. If a community needs help or has a request, they contact their representative on the CAC and work with them.

In order to better serve communities, the CAC decided to create a website two years ago. I was asked to create the website using the template provided by STC. Since creating the website, the CAC members have used it to promote their webinars. I’ve authored several Best Practices articles on the site. These articles are intended to be suggestions to communities on how to simplify their work, such as by using Quicken to help budget, and Eventbrite to manage meeting registrations. Additionally, which STC was revamping their website, I used the CAC website to post the applications for the various awards, honor societies, and competitions that the Society offers. Once stc.org was back up and running, I removed those posts and pointed interested parties to the new STC site.

Check out the CAC website: http://www.cac-stc.org.
Or for a list of my Best Practices articles, see: https://tmesposit.wordpress.com/presentations-and-publications/

Historically, the treasurer mainly interacts with communities at budget time. As part of the budget review process, each submitted budget is inspected and various suggestions are made. For example, switch to STC web hosting to save money, or register your chapter leaders with the early bird rate for Summit to save money. Additionally, the treasurer speaks at Leadership Day to talk about budgeting skills. If elected treasurer I would of course continue those communications. I would also consider giving a webinar on budgeting (as was done this past year by Jane and I: http://www.cac-stc.org/quicken-and-easy-budgeting-webinar-september-16-2016/). Additional webinars on tax forms and the annual community financial report are a possibility too. If the CAC finds that a community is struggling financially, I expect to work with that community to help them out.

To see all of the webinars I’ve done to help Society communities, see:
Presentations & Publications
You can also see a list of my chapter and Society-level contributions here:
STC Involvement & Contributions