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International Society of Secularists: One Possible International Growth Strategy

June 7, 2008

A few months back I decided to publicly write about my plans for the atheist organization I plan to start. Before I talk about an international growth strategy for the organization, a brief restatement of the organization’s basic goals seems appropriate.

The organization (tentatively called the International Society of Secularists) will focus on a set of clear goals: to establish social and support networks for atheists on a local level, to serve both local atheist communities and local communities at large, to reach out to individuals and groups such as public officials, the religious community, and other secular and service oriented organizations, and to eliminate negative stereotypes about secularism and secularists. The organization will also pursue some not so unique goals that are nevertheless important to secularists, such as the promotion of separation of church and state, reason, and civil rights of secularists.

I imagine that for the first few years – or at least the first few months – that the organization is operational, it will run on a fairly small budget. Therefore, it will rely mostly on the work of volunteers to begin with. So how will we have a national growth strategy at the beginning, let alone an international one?

First of all, one will have to be either a current or former chapter leader in order to be a member of the board of directors. This means that the members first slate of directors will all have to be current chapter leaders. Of course, this will make it hard for someone to be on the board before the organization begins operations, so there will probably be a special section in the bylaws pertaining to the first board. I will probably write something into it that allows these first directors to serve on the board as long as they commit to and plan for starting a chapter as soon as the organization begins operations.

This policy means that every director on the board will understand what it means to be a chapter leader – and will be in a good position to understand and serve other local leaders. It will also insure that each director is actively involved in the organization, no matter how big the organization gets. The policy also means that, if the board members live in a wide range of geographical locations, the organization itself will also be active in the same wide range. As the board turns over and grows, the policy may serve as one method of growth for the organization.

One possible reason that this international strategy of growth may not work during the first months of the organization’s life is that it may need to have the first group of board members to be concentrated in a relatively small geographical area. The organization will probably have few funds to reimburse board members for traveling expenses. Also, the board will probably need to meet frequently in order to write the organization’s strategic plan. It may be the case that the board members will have to act as volunteers in order to run the organization’s day to day operations, at least at first.

As always, your feedback is welcome. Feel free to give me your ideas and constructive criticism.

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