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Last Minute Changes in RSVPs, and No-Shows

From: Scott
Sent on: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 4:02 PM

During the first year of our group, membership was small and meetings often drew less than ten people. That was fine, because it allowed us to develop a core membership and to give everyone ample opportunity to participate. Over time our membership has significantly increased, which I found heartening but also problematical–our sign-ups for meetings were becoming very large, threatening to make conversations unmanageable. I responded to the problem by limiting “yes” RSVPs to twenty and establishing waiting lists; additionally I enacted a policy of dropping people who had not come to a meeting in twelve consecutive months.

However, there is still one problem. Some people have developed a habit of RSVPing “yes” for a meeting, then changing it to “no” within a few days of the event. In a sense their “yes” RSVP functions as a place holder, not a statement about their commitment to the meeting. The effect of their taking up space on the “yes” list is to prevent people on the waiting list, people who genuinely want to attend, from doing so. You might ask, “What is preventing them if they have been bumped up to the “yes” list? This means they are free to come.” That’s true, but if they are notified of the change at the last minute they will not have had time to do the reading and are inclined (so they tell me) to stay away. This isn’t fair to them. Compounding the problem are no-shows, people who don’t even bother to change their RSVP. I have noticed that no-shows tend to be new people who join many groups, which makes attendance at any one unlikely.

To deal with the problem I am instituting the following policy: new members (defined as someone who has been with the group less than six months) who are no-shows for two meetings will be given a warning, then dropped if it occurs again; members who have been with the group longer will be contacted if a similar pattern is developing. People who RSVP “yes” but frequently change it to “no” close to the meeting date will also receive warnings before being dropped. If you are unsure what your attendance history is, log in to our web site, click on “my profile” in the upper right corner, then scroll down the bottom of the page to “attendance stats”.

My motivation for winnowing away inactive members is to make the group tighter. People who have been a member for many months and have never come to a meeting need to ask themselves, “Does this group really appeal to me? Does it require more time and preparation than I am willing to give?” If you find yourself nodding yes, leaving would be perfectly reasonable. I hope this e-mail doesn’t result in an exodus of people, but if it does, and those who remain are solidly invested in the group, I will regard that as a healthy outcome.

Let me know if you have any questions.

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