Voices and Echoes for the Environment: Public Interest Representation in the 1990s and Beyond

By Ronald G. Shaiko | Go to book overview

5
It's Not Easy Being Green
Leadership Incentives and Membership Motivations

The prospect of a loss is more likely to motivate action than the expectation of a gain even when the value of the gain and the loss are identical. An environmental lobby will get more members by saying that an existing national park faces a reduction in size by 10 percent than it will by saying that the same park might be expanded by 10 percent.

—JAMES Q. WILSON,Political Organizations, 1995.

Membership has its privileges.

—AMERICAN EXPRESS

Think for a moment about what motivates you to belong to an organization—a church, a social group, a service organization, a sorority or fraternity, a professional association, or a public interest group such as an environmental organization. Is it the camaraderie enjoyed with friends? Is it the mission of the group? Perhaps it is the tangible benefits provided by the group, such as tote bags, calendars, glossy monthly magazines, or even discounts on travel and lodging or drugs and insurance. Or perhaps you are motivated by fear or the threats of disaster if you do not act.

From an organizational leadership perspective, the keys to organizational maintenance in the public interest sector are attracting and retaining individuals like you and me as well as a sufficiently large membership and/or donor base of support to sustain the daily operations of the organizations. In order to attract and retain us, leaders must appeal to our motivations by offering a combination of incentives that will appeal to a wide audience of potential supporters. As demonstrated in chapter 4, direct mail, telemarketing, and canvassing are the methods of choice for conveying these incentives to potential members. In this chapter the interrelationships be

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