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Let’s get back to that “vision thing”

March 26, 2013
It’s been a while since we touched on the 2002 “Fraternal Vision” report, but I don’t want this groundbreaking study to fade into the woodwork again. So let’s get back to the findings and recommendations uncovered by the report’s authors over a decade ago… Fraternal Vision Cover_001 Finding #6 – There is a strong and increasingly unmet need for individuals to connect with others with shared values. Fraternals have a great opportunity to become a “connector” by offering these people an attractive “value proposition” that fulfills their need to belong. • Finding #7 – There is considerable confusion over the distinction between the public policy rationale for tax exemption of fraternals and the public policy rationale for justifying their existence as not-for-profit organizations. Fraternals can benefit from placing more emphasis on the rationale for their not-for-profit status when formulating their operating plans and strategies. • Finding #8 – There is a wide gap between the positive, functional attributes of fraternals and the public perception of them. This gap needs to be minimized, or closed altogether, if the fraternal system is to remain viable. • Finding #9 – Fraternals must clearly define their organization’s mission and purpose and find leaders who can translate that into action and direction. • Finding #10 – Among the most formidable obstacles to defining the mission and purpose of a fraternal is the duality of member intent to both give and receive aid. Because a society’s mission and purpose must be in sync and responsive to the expectations and intentions of members, it becomes a formidable task to articulate a core ideology when member intent is twofold and varies in degrees of emphasis from member to member. Recommendation Three – The Alliance should work to develop an alternative definition of a fraternal benefit society that places greater emphasis on the donative intent of members. My take on this… I’m happy to say that this is one of the recommendations on which the Alliance has made real progress. Through to our consumer research work in 2011 and 2012, we verified many of the findings in the “Fraternal Vision” report and discovered some key characteristics of fraternals that resonate with prospective members. More importantly, we identified words and phrases that help us explain the misunderstood concept of the fraternal business model in a way that makes sense to people with little or no knowledge of who we are or what we do – which is to say about 99.9% of the population. Here’s a reminder of the most effective “elevator speech” that we tested: Fraternals are life insurance providers the way it ought to be. Not-for-profit businesses owned by and accountable to their members that give back revenues to member customers and their communities – not Wall Street investors. Stable, reliable organizations, most of whom have been in business more than a century, securing their members financial futures and supporting community service projects that reflect those members’ shared values. Next week’s posting will focus on turning all these good intentions into action and results. Stay tuned…