Unemployed (or underemployed) and looking for a break in your membership dues from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)?
The association offers “a complimentary hardship extension to members who are experiencing financial distress,” Lee Anne Snedeker, senior vice president of global development for IABC, said in a comment to a previous PR Junkie post.
“All they need to do is email me a short summary of what’s going on (we’ll keep it confidential), and depending on longevity and other considerations, we often grant extensions of one to six months,” Snedeker wrote. In a separate correspondence with PR Junkie, she said "the decision about whether to extend membership is based on [the person's] years as a member and contributions to the association. The length of the membership extension depends on the situation."
Send your e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other professional organizations, including the Public Relations Society of America and the Society for Human Resources Management, have offered a price break or a free year of membership for unemployed members.
This week, IABC e-mailed its members with a promotion that offers free membership extensions of three months, up to one year, for each new member a current member recruits. Although Freeman and Snedeker both said the promotion has elicited a positive response, several PR Junkie readers criticized the program.
“You would think that IABC would just discount membership rates for the unemployed, rather than require them to sign up new members,” a commenter wrote. “The unemployed have enough to worry about in this job market and should not have to worry about signing up members.”
Freeman reminded readers that the program is not a requirement, but an option.
The e-mail to IABC members also included the frank admission that the association had lost 1,000 members since the end of 2008. Freeman said IABC expects a drop in membership of about 7 percent by the end of 2009, which will wipe out the growth it saw in 2008.
“The sky isn’t falling,” she said. “We’re not happy about it, but it is consistent with what’s happening at other associations.”
While Freeman said the dip in membership has not affected its programs and publications, IABC has experienced cost-cutting this year. For instance, in June it laid off four employees, reducing its staff from 32 to 28.
Freeman said IABC does not anticipate further layoffs in 2010.
Next year, IABC will perform a lapsed member survey to learn why communicators did not renew their memberships, Freeman said.