Ago Member Benefits Continue to Expand

By Thomashower, James E. | The American Organist, April 2015 | Go to article overview

Ago Member Benefits Continue to Expand


Thomashower, James E., The American Organist


More than just buzzwords, the "value proposition" is what every current member and prospect contemplates when deciding to join or renew his or her membership with the Guild. Placing a dollar value on the benefits of AGO membership is not so easy, however, since a great many benefits involve attributes that improve the quality of one's life-such as increased educational opportunities, greater social interaction, and ease of access to information and to those who are similarly dedicated to the organ and its music.

The AGO Marketing Committee concurs. Analyzing the responses to its recent membership survey, the committee noted that, "Across all age groups, the most valuable aspect of AGO membership was to meet and network with professional colleagues." The second-highest-rated benefit was "staying informed about news in the organ world." The AGO facilitates these benefits by providing all members with a twelve-month subscription to THE AMERICAN ORGANIST, the world's leading organ and choral journal. The efforts of thousands of volunteers enable the Guild to produce hundreds of chapter newsletters featuring local job listings, recitals, and news of the organ world; national and chapter websites; chapter meetings; and regional as well as national conferences.

We asked a few Guild leaders what they personally thought the primary benefits of membership were. Here is the top list of one member: "Continuing education from meetings and conventions; growth as a musician from hearing recitals and workshops; the enrichment of hearing many styles of playing and organ; friendships that grow through the common love of organ music."

Our newest membership benefits include full online access to each issue of TAO, the ability to join or renew online throughout the year and update one's membership profile in our database at any time, and, exclusively for first-time members, access to a no-cost (i.e., no premium) life-insurance policy for two years with a $40,000 benefit. Thanks to a bequest from Messrs. Pogorzelski and Yankee, we are now providing $60,000 in scholarship funding to six students annually (four undergraduates and two enrolled in master's degree programs).

Not yet 18 months old, our new national website continues to be a source of great pride. An RSS feed on the home page allows members to read current news about Guild members culled from the Internet each day. Members can post comments (blog) on any article introduced by the dramatic photos that we regularly refresh on our home page. And more new membership benefits are currently under development. They include a series of online videos titled "Ask Aunt Wilma," in which Wilma Jensen answers questions submitted by AGO members; and a separate series of brief online instructional videos for organists of all levels of ability. We are currently in negotiations with Choir & Organ to provide members with an introductory offer for an online version of that magazine. Plans are also underway for the web-streaming of a live broadcast of one or more organ recitals from the AGO's Southeast Convention in June 2015; and the premiere performance of the commission granted to the first winner of the annual Pogorzelski-Yankee Composition Competition will take place in 2016.

The Guild continues to provide support and approximately $10,000 in scholarship aid annually to young organists attending Pipe Organ Encounters; support for organists in small parishes through January Jubilees; and support for every organist through our committees, conventions, and certification programs. …

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