Recently I attended a workshop for Nordic organizations to discuss challenges that many of the local groups are facing, such as declining membership, difficulty attracting younger generations as members and volunteers, lack of resources, and cost of communicating to membership (e.g., through newsletters). At this workshop we applied standard planning methods to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of local Nordic organizations, and while that work – which hasn’t been completed yet – will no doubt give us guidance on how to solve the aforementioned problems, it is not what I want to talk about in this message. Instead I want to focus on another result of the meeting that is perhaps obvious. It was identified by Viggo Forde, the organizer of the workshop, as better together, the idea that we can be more effective and efficient by cooperating and collaborating.
Doing things together isn’t, of course, a new idea for the Nordic community. Various Nordic organizations regularly hold shared events, and the Nordic Heritage Museum is very much a collaborative effort. FFSC routinely works with other organizations because we don’t own any real estate and thus rely on other organizations’ facilities for holding our events. Our cooperation with the Swedish Club is a fine example of this: in February we held an author event with Hanna Pylväinen at the Swedish Club, and in May we will host the Olli Hirvonen Trio at the Swedish Club as well. However, I think we – FFSC and all other Nordic organizations – need to be more deliberate in seeking this cooperation in the future as it will strengthen our relationships, help increase awareness of the different groups and hopefully increase membership.
Some collaborative ideas floated at the workshop included having an annual Nordic event together, something like the Finland Summer Festival scaled up to include all Nordic organizations where we all participate in creating the event. We could also make resource sharing easier by publishing a list of facilities available for Nordic organizations’ use along with a web-based calendar through which reservations could be made. There were also suggestions for improving awareness of the many groups by having a shared Facebook page where each group could publicize their events, and we could also have a shared email list (probably an opt-in one) through which event information could be spread. Many other ideas were presented, and they will be discussed further, but this should give you a sense of what was being considered.
As usual, feedback on this and any other topic is most welcome. You can send it to FFSC through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or you can speak with FFSC board members at our annual meeting at the Swedish Club on Wednesday April 23rd at 6:30 PM. The meeting is intended to be interactive, where officers report to current FFSC members and members have an opportunity to express their ideas and suggestions to the board. You are all invited to attend the meeting.