Joiners

The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who can see two kinds of people and those who can’t.

Old joke

The backbone of many activities across our society and our organisations are the joiners. The people who volunteer to do the work.

In any not for profit, sporting club, school or volunteer organisation, a few people do a lot of the work. Who does the work is driven by intrinsic motivations, their willingness to give and the interest in others. Not surprisingly, it is often the same people who contribute across all these domains. There is so much social and civil activity powered by the joiners. Everyone else benefits from their work.

The narrow base of joiners makes these essential organisations more fragile. A narrow base of joiners can mean that they are spread to thin and services can be fitted in unevenly around other commitments. Those who don’t join in often have the comfortable view that ‘things could be done better’ of those who don’t offer to help.

Organisations of all types need to know, value and celebrate their joiners. The loss of one can have wide reaching implications. The gain of one can power new levels of effectiveness. Like Mr Micawber in Dicken’s David Copperfield, a lot can turn on whether you can sustain enough support from joiners:

‘Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 19 [pounds] 19 [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 20 pounds ought and six, result misery. ‘

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