By SPJ | March 30th, 2010
20/20 isn’t just an ABC News program. It has something to do with hindsight, and perhaps it’s applicable here.
We’ve received some constructive feedback and questions about a recent membership mailing sent to past SPJ members whose memberships had lapsed. The purpose of this mailing, paid for by a generous individual donor, was to tout SPJ’s efforts and encourage past members to rejoin. In this capacity, it was part of a membership campaign, not strictly a fundraising letter in the traditional sense of the term. (Rather, a fundraising appeal would more appropriately come from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, SPJ’s associated 501(c)(3) educational foundation, contributions to which are tax deductible.)
The feedback has not been against the idea of the mailing, but rather a perceived omission. The card included a box that people could check if they wished to rejoin, along with preferred contact information. People could then detach the information, seal it and send back to us. We would then follow up with a phone call about SPJ membership.
However, there was no price for membership listed (though there is the option to donate a specified amount without becoming an actual member, for those who support our mission but don’t wish to formally join).
This omission of membership prices may have been taken at best as a glaring oversight, and we thank those who contacted us and expressed concern. However, the omission was intended and practical for several reasons. Specifically:
1) SPJ has several individual membership categories: student, post-graduate, professional, associate, retired. With space limitations, we decided not to list all of them and their corresponding category definitions and yearly dues structure. Click here to see that information at SPJ.org.
2) We honestly hoped that if you indicated a desire to rejoin and sent back the information card, it would spur a personal contact that is somewhat lacking in this age of text messages and smart phones (not that there’s anything wrong with those technologies). Thus, after receiving your card, we would call you, discuss SPJ membership and why it would help you, and talk about the industry, the profession and your desire to join SPJ.
In hindsight, that great 20/20 equalizer that everyone experiences with amazing clarity at some point, we should have mentioned this idea to call you and discuss SPJ membership (including dues) in greater depth. For that, and for any confusion, we apologize.
And to all who gave feedback: Thanks for letting us know. And thanks for reading your mail!
Society of Professional Journalists
Sigma Delta Chi Foundation