[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

Membership Decline in TS

Jul 23, 2010 06:49 AM
by MKR

All the points stated by Katinka are well taken. All suggestions should be
tried and no one knows  what will work. On this issue of membership decline
world-wide, let us take another look.

Normally we would be discussing and dissecting theosophical ideas and
writings. We all know that an unusual atmosphere was created in TS with the
start of the International Election in 2008 and the developments that
followed in the General Council meetings.

We all also know a lot of time to the Section leaders was spent on the
election matters and the aftermath events including GC meetings. We,
ordinary members, do not know what other activities are still going on now
among the leaders behind the normal super secrecy of operations/decisions.

But, the above cited events has fanned the interest of atleast some members
on such a key issue as membership decline and we all should be thankful that
we have Internet to exchange and discuss issues without anybodyâs

By not talking about the membership decline issue, are we to accept the
inevitability of decline and shut down of  the Sections when money and
membership runs out? I do not think so. TS has a lot more to achieve in the
years to come.

It was a genius of the Founders in setting TS as a democratic organization
with total autonomy to the Section. Which brings us to the question of the
priorities of the Section leaders. Leaders, I think have a duty  to grow
their Sections. One of the most objective measures to go by is the
membership count. If membership is not number one priority, then what else
is? When one reads periodicals issued by  Sections, we see more often the
pictures of the leaders, their personal travels, their family events, all
which have nothing to do with TS or theosophy nor have any effect on
membership growth issues. Rarely the sad situation of membership decline is
brought up.

Too long, the membersâ interests have not stirred up in growth issues. With
recent events, it looks like the members, in all Sections outside India are
exposed to the critical membership issue. Members need to bring them up to
their lodge presidents, federation presidents, and national officers and the
Section leaders. It looks like if the members do not take interest and stay
just as bystanders, the decline will continue and there is no point in
shedding tears too late in the game. One thing is for sure. The Indian
Section's continued growth guarantees the survival of TS at least in India.


On Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 2:10 PM, Spirituality <>wrote:

> Hi MKR,
> I think everybody knows that the TS has faced a downward membership trend
> since the 1930s. What can the study of statistics do to add to that?
> As for the New Zealand section: no new general secretary can be expected to
> reverse membership trends very quickly. After all, merely slowing down the
> decline, means that people who die are replaced more often. If you do want
> to do statistics, compare the speed of membership decline & look at whether
> the speed of membership decline is slowing.
> This is true on any level: from lodge to section to international.
> As for the Indian TS: it is in a unique situation:
> 1) Membership dues are low enough that poor Indians can afford to pay them.
> Middle class Indians can pay life membership dues without having to even
> think about it: that's how large a divide there is between rich and poor in
> India.
> 2) In India becoming a TS member is at least part a nationalistic
> statement: India as the mother of all religion and all that.
> Combine the two and it's no surprise that the Indian section has grown a
> bit, instead of shrunk. What IS a surprise is that such a large proportion
> of members voted in the last election. I'm told it's due simply to the fact
> that on every level TS officials made a LOT of effort to get people to vote.
> That was certainly not done in the Dutch TS.
> But now for some constructive things: in order to change things it's not
> going to help to talk about how sad it is that the membership numbers are
> going down. The TS is clearly missing the boat here and we need to figure
> out why. We don't need our leaders to tell us why: collectively we probably
> know far more than our general secretaries do.
> In each section there's its own dynamics. In the US we know that there are
> new members coming in, however there is a huge turnover. What that tells me
> is that the TS in the US has their PR thing going well, they just don't
> offer what people need in order to stay. So the TS in the US should do a
> survey amongst those leaving to figure out:
> 1) what they expected when they joined the TS
> 2) whether their expectations were met
> 3) why they are leaving
> 4) what would make them stay
> In other sections, the Dutch one for instance, it's not so much that people
> leave, but that they die (which can't be helped) and new members aren't
> coming in. So the Dutch section has decided to invest into PR more. Now that
> may not be enough: PR without a serious look at the work in the TS is a
> one-sided approach. Still, it at least addresses one of the issues the TS
> faces.
> The Dutch TS could also do with more surveys to figure out what members and
> those on the list of 'interested people' expect of the activities for
> instance, if they're happy about them, what they want to see different etc.
> The same with the magazine and website.
> As I said earlier: Vicente Hao Chin was really the only one coming near to
> this sort of thing in his talk. But he started a level earlier, wanting each
> of us, and each section, to think about two or three things they think are
> essential to the Theosophical Society. What do we want people in the world
> to associate us with? Zen - meditation. Dalai Lama: Tibet and peace.
> If we don't come up with something and use that in our presentation of
> ourselves to the world, the world will choose things and it will be hard to
> change that. That's the situation we're in obviously: the world associates
> us with the 19th century for instance. How can we change that?
> Katinka
> More about the Theosophical Society and where we're going:
> --- In <>, MKR
> <mkr777@...> wrote:
> >
> > We have talked about the steady decline in membership in Sections outside
> > India, whereas the membership in Indian Section is showing consistent
> growth
> > from year to year.
> >
> > I have also mentioned how in the USA, during DoraÃââs time it was around
> 8,000
> > and now is less than half. This is in spite of many hard working,
> scholarly,
> > dedicated, competent, smart, men and women heading the Section. The
> Section
> > also has a lot of money in the bank and money cannot be the culprit.
> >
> > In addition, the situation looks bad when longtime lodges (with valuable
> > properties) are closed at the initiative of TSA. Right now the closure of
> > the 75 year old Orlando lodge is in litigation and no one is talking.
> Only
> > information that we have heard is that the court was told that upto $100K
> of
> > TSA money may be spent on litigation. (Can anyone who knows, confirm or
> > refute this info?)
> >
> > No one has done an in depth study of the decline in membership. Today, I
> was
> > shocked to find that NZ Section had about 1,800 members in 1992 and now
> has
> > less than half. The current General Secretary of the Section is a former
> > politician and he should know the significance of drop in membership and
> I
> > have not seen him discuss this important systemic problem on Internet or
> in
> > any of the General Council meetings.
> >
> > I hope someone who has access to the statistical information and time and
> > skill, analyze the data to understand the trends so that some possible
> > attempt can be made to address the systemic underlying problem.
> >
> > MKR
> >
> > There is no Religion Higher than Truth
> >
> >
> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> >

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application