There is no doubt that with the continued drought conditions across the eastern part of Australia, the CWA of NSW (and other states) have risen to the challenge to help their communities and importantly, advocate strongly for their members. Against this backdrop, we’ve also seen a pleasing turnaround in our membership numbers. But to put this down to drought and the old adage of “never letting a good crisis go to waste” wouldn’t be doing justice to the great work of all our members on many issues, not just drought. Yes, this weeks’ column is, in a way, a shameless promotion of what the media termed this week as “the grand old lady of the Australian Outback” - the CWA. It’s more than that though. It’s about reflecting on what it is that CWA is perhaps doing differently to other organisations that are helping to turn these membership numbers around. What makes an association great? What makes people want to join?
The CWA of NSW, has for the first time in over a decade, managed to stop the thing that many member-based organisations are dealing with as one of their biggest challenges, being the loss of members.
Members come and go every year, but most membership-based organisations like ours generally have more leaving than joining annually. There is a natural decrease that often occurs as there can be the challenges of a decreasing pool of people from which to draw members, particularly for those with rural interests.
So what is CWA doing to combat this? First and foremost, we remember what we exist for and we revisit it against our actions time and time again. We listen to our members on a wide variety of issues. We keep the bureaucracy to a minimum and we go out and get things done.
Members also share a common desire to make their communities better places to live, all the while maintaining the traditions of an organisation founded on hard work, determination, ingenuity and friendship.
Communication and using the media to tell our story has been one of the real keys to our success. We are not shy to talk the talk about what we do and we ensure that communication with members and the general public is a priority at all times.
Our unrelenting focus on the lobbying and advocacy front is particularly important. That is why we exist. In doing this, we also harness the grassroots power of our members. Why wouldn’t we? With close to 400 branches across the state, we are a force to be reckoned with!
Women of all ages and from a range of backgrounds also find friendship and support through their branches, with regular craft, cooking and information days allowing members to build on their skills, develop new ones, share ideas and expand their networks.
The CWA of NSW is a community with clout, and a voice for the people of regional NSW. Come and have a scone-versation with us. We’d love to have you on board.