The 2022 Commitment Crisis

I work with a lot of membership organizations.

College student organizations, non-profits, civic organizations, religious organizations, fraternities and sororities, volunteer programs…


And I keep hearing the same thing over and over and over again.


  • “The semester is going alright, but I still can't get my members to follow through on their own.”

  • “Everyone says they are ready to be back in person for meetings and events, but I can’t get people to show up.”

  • “I planned this really cool event for my organization of over 100 members and only 5 showed up.”

  • “My committee all agreed to our monthly meeting time, but everyone canceled in the last 24 hours or were no-shows.”


If there’s a theme to 2022 - this is it.


I’m calling it the Commitment Crisis.



First, I’m here to tell you - It's not just you.

It’s not just your members/students/volunteers.

Not just your organization/company/campus.


Literally, those statements are all I keep hearing over and over again.

Everyone is struggling with getting folks to sign up and show up.

Everyone.


Here’s my theory on the Commitment Crisis.

Tell me if you’re picking up what I'm putting down.


My theory is that the pandemic made everyone reevaluate their priorities.


And it turns out folks were doing all kinds of stuff they didn't actually want to do.

So it became super apparent when organizations or events weren't a value-add to people's lives.


They saw meetings for the sake of meetings and mediocre events.

And they straight up said, “I put pants on for this?! No thanks, I’d rather just stay home.”



Now listen…

On the optimistic side, this is the result of people naming and claiming their priorities, then acting accordingly.


I'm a fan of people having boundaries and priorities!

Karli Sherman Productions is a HUGE fan of boundaries and priorities!


I am NOT a fan of the inability to communicate one’s boundaries and priorities, leading to flaking out.


On the pessimistic side, maybe everyone just got lazy and complacent.


Now they don't want to put in the effort to get dressed and drive somewhere or answer emails or execute tasks... so they just don't.

Big yikes.


The collective truth is probably somewhere in between.


I say all this so you know I see you and I hear you.

It sucks.

And I don't think there's an easy or immediate fix.


Let’s just sit in that suckiness for a minute together… ugh.


So what can I do then?


One of the best things I've done through my work recently is to address the commitment and follow-through issue head-on.


Recognize it and call it out.

Then give folks the "permission" to quit.


Because if you're not going to show up or follow through in this organization, then this organization isn’t for you. It isn't a priority. Something else is.

AND THAT’S OKAY!

So go do that other thing.


No shame, no threats, no fines, no guilt.

For real, we are not trying to shame you into showing up.


No one wants that.

You don’t want to feel shamed and pressured.

And I don’t want an organization full of resentful, guilt-filled members who have this org at the bottom of their priority list.


I don't want you to show up out of shame.

I want you to show up because this is a priority for you.


So if it’s not a priority, that’s literally, actually, 100% ok!



I don't know who needs to hear this, but this is your permission to define your priorities, stop doing this thing, and go do that thing!


Feel free to share this blog with whoever needs to read it!

Copy and paste it into your meeting agenda.

Share it in your organization newsletter.

Put it in the group chat.


Because the time is now.

Bu