Sunday, February 11, 2007

It's Time for NYYM to Come Clean with Membership Numbers


Dear Friends.

This is to follow the letter above, as some Friends asked for specification of various assertions, I made. I intend to show any and all evidence as time permits going forward.

Lets begin with the membership data - the decline in membership undermines every aspect of governance in any Friends Society.

NYYM reported that membership grew from
3501 to 3512 from 2004 to 2005.


NYYM reported that membership grew from
3512 to 3529 from 2005 to 2006.


Does anyone surely believe that after 35 straight years of decline, only after the costs of the Yearly Meeting go up by 1/3 within a two-year period, and only after I publish the sad but true fact of this long membeship decline, that the membership somehow rises for two years straight ?

In NYYM (Self) Job Descriptions, from the Advance Reports 2006 we find an hourly employee was charged with gathering membership data from Monthly Meetings for the 2006 Yearbook.

Would Friends feel moved to ask NYYM for transparency into how this data was gathered for the 2006 Yearbook? Were there multiple persons involved in compiling this data in the NYYM office? For example, did one person collect the data and someone else tabulate it? Can Monthly Meetings corroborate the numbers in the 2006 Yearbook to a central objective person or committee?

I’ve traveled over NYYM to many Monthly Meetings and found a few examples where the membership numbers are obviously misstated by someone or more persons (paid) who had a vested interest to show higher than actual membership numbers. I ask Friends to consider appointment of an independent (if this is truly possible) auditor or committee to examine each Monthly Meeting membership total.

For example, I notified the General Secretary’s Task Group in 7th Month 2006, that Scarsdale Meeting had reported 100 members without change since 2003 (and maybe for longer) . I asked this group, with oversight of the General Secretary, to 'come clean' with the membership numbers in the 2005 Yearbook. I visited Scarsdale meeting and there were 12 people in attendance on a non-holiday good weather First Day in 2006. For another example, I visited Manhasset Meeting on same such day in 2006 and found 9 persons present when their stated membership is 85 members. Granted Manhasset meeting was at that time, in early 2006, trying to reconcile its membership numbers. However the 2006 NYYM Yearbook, published in 12th Month 2006, doesn't show a substantial change. How odd?


Try this test in your own meeting. Find the published membership number of your Monthly meeting. Is it higher or lower than 3x the average number of attenders on First Days? If so, your membership number is overstated. At most, there are 3x as many members, as there are those in attendance on a given First Day.

3x the number in attendance is generous – mostly it would even be 2x the average attending number on First Days as a good quick estimator of the 'real' membership of your meeting.


So, Scarsdale really has – at most - about 40 members, and Manhasset has 30
(at 3x). Let’s ask independent minded Friends to look at more Monthly Meetings, then recommend that NYYM ‘come clean’ with its ‘real’ membership number?

NYYM membership declined each year for 35 years - until I published a report of the decline in October 2004. In 2005, NYYM then saw a membership growth for the first time in this period. In 2006, somehow it grew again – miraculously enough after the General Secretary arrived, and NYYM was in budget deficit for 2005 and 2006?

Again, does anyone surely believe that after 35 straight years of decline, and only after I publish the sad but true fact of this decline, that the membership somehow rises for two years straight?

This membership ‘increase’ also occurred after NYYM received my letter of 5/17/2005 to all Monthly Meetings stating the membership decline among other issues of malfeasance and mismanagement. I was subsequently asked to resign from the NYYM Financial Services Committee by the Clerk of said committee. This was the second time that I was asked to resign. I refused and hence asked the committee clerk to resign – he didn’t.

The first time I was asked to resign from the committee was in September 2004 when I spoke up to inconsistencies in NYYM spending and job duties at the NYYM office. This attempted force-out was a two on one lunch meeting where the new General Secretary and said Clerk tried to convince me to resign Financial Services Committee service. I refused.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I find there is a strong vested interest in paid employees to show a membership increase for the past two years straight when it is highly unlikely that this increase has occurred. The General Secretary has used this membership increase in his latest report to NYYM – front and center. But, only after he first creating a public relations diversion for other collected NYYM office visits data, as his reason to be employed along with the other staff members for whom we have no serious job descriptions. He ‘needs to’ start his report in bringing our attention to the conditions the employees, those who have been in the office, have endured over the summer of 2006.

I also suspect that there are those insiders who have a vested interest in keeping the paid employee status quo, in drawing more resources from Monthly Meetings than they can afford. This because the attitude of said insiders is that NYYM is an entity which is unaccountable to the Monthly Meetings, and it is a ‘higher’ organization rather than an organization which draws its authority from the grass roots. They truly don’t want a connection. They most likely just want the money to continue centralized power structure and the summer vacation at Lake George.

I would guess that NYYM has less than 1500 members - not 3500 or whatever number has been published. This is from first hand experience in visiting over 1/3 of Monthly Meetings of NYYM in a one-year period.

NYYM will only grow in the manner of Friends – by spreading out roots (by spending resources) in witness and nurture from the bottom to form strong activities and small new (preparative) societies at more numerous local levels.

In Friendship,
Glenn R.