What can members gain from their EFA membership? I pose this question because one of the frequent comments in the surveys that we send to people who have discontinued their membership is “I have reaped no benefit from being an EFA member.” And while I understand that this comment often means, more succinctly, “I didn’t get any jobs from the Job List,” it also suggests that the former member hasn’t examined and taken advantage of the many other benefits that EFA membership offers.
I had the pleasure of attending the holiday party at the EFA’s New York City offices last week (arranged by our very busy and very capable general manager, Susannah Driver-Barstow), and I witnessed exchanges about many of those benefits first-hand. The members who attended were sharing experiences, advice, expertise, fun stories, and tall tales. Longer-term members in attendance, like Laurie Lewis, Eliot Linzer, Norman Bauman, and others shared stories about the history of the EFA. Luann Reed-Siegel, an EFA board member and one of the leaders of our events planning group, talked about some of the upcoming events in which the EFA will be participating – and the need for more volunteers to attend those events on the EFA’s behalf. Ruth Mullen, board member and NYC chapter coordinator, filled us in on the next NYC chapter event – a presentation by a local CPA on how recent tax law changes will affect freelancers.
Members also shared food pot-luck style, so there was plenty to eat, and to keep us talking.
Co-executive Christina M. Frey and I moved from table to table and group to group to meet new members and to follow up with others whom we might not have seen in a while. We also tried to introduce newer members to others in the room who might share their EFA-related interests. The point, as always, was to help members new and old to make connections with each other and with resources that might help them meet their freelance goals.
Christina Frey and I also met – both before and the day after the holiday gathering – to discuss ways in which we could make the EFA more engaging and to encourage more members to participate in chapter meetings, outside events that we will be attending, the educational program, our publications offerings, the Discussion List, and other EFA offerings. In fact, we talked about increasing the chapter budgets so local chapters could do more for local members, and we discussed the possibility of creating more events in which EFA members could interact directly with potential clients. The next EFA conference – which we expect to take place in Chicago sometime in 2019 – was also a topic of discussion.
The EFA has a lot going on, and the best way to get something out of it – to “reap a benefit,” in other words – is to jump in and get involved with these and other activities on our schedule. For instance: We’ll be looking for members to participate in our conference planning for 2019. We’re looking for members to participate in chapter activities, and to create new chapters. We will be looking for people to represent the EFA at the many events that we will be attending throughout the coming year. We’ll be looking for members to contribute to our publications program and to the Freelancer newsletter, as well as to participate (with civility) and share ideas, advice, and experience on our online Discussion List. We will be looking for volunteers to take part in our diversity initiative and our PR committee. And we will be looking for help for our Twitter team and Facebook page and for a variety of other upcoming activities. Those interested can take a look at the Member Area of our new website for some of the other benefits available, and check out the Volunteers page for ways to help contribute to the EFA’s efforts.
So we have a lot going on, and we will continue to look for – and ask our membership for – new ways to serve members and to get them involved in ways that will be beneficial to them. In fact, as we go forward into 2018, our board members will be using this news blog to talk about what they are doing to benefit members, and what members can do to help the EFA ring in a great new year.
Bill Keenan, Co-executive
Editorial Freelancers Association