SNAP Feedback Requested on Proposed Changes in Member Affinity Groups

This post is intended to provide an overview of the Council proposed changes to Member Affinity Group structures, which was officially announced August 13, 2015 and discussed during the SAA 2015 Annual Business Meeting. SNAP Roundtable members are encouraged to review these documents and submit comments to the Council as specified below. Additionally, the 2015-2016 Steering Committee intends to prepare formal recommendations on behalf of the roundtable. The Steering Committee will distribute a survey to the roundtable in the coming days to gather specific data and feedback to direct its recommendations, but SNAP participants are also invited to submit comments here.

This proposal was drafted by Mark Duffy, Lisa Mangiafico, and James Roth to revise the member affinity group structure of SAA in response to recommendations made by the Task Force on Member Affinity Groups. The Council will seek member comments through September 15, 2015 before proceeding.

Summary of proposed changes
From the SAA statement available at

Briefly, the revised structure would support two types of member affinity groups:

SAA Affinity Groups

  • All existing Sections and Roundtables would maintain their identity within SAA Affinity Groups and the current distinction between Sections and Roundtables would disappear
  • They would keep their current names, have access to space at the annual meeting, and receive technology support for microsites, listserv hosting, elections, and AV at the annual meeting
  • Bylaws, annual reports, and elections would be normalized for Affinity Groups.
  • These groups would continue to have direct access to the Council through their liaison assignments and all groups would be able to petition the Council (with equal footing) for project or initiative funding.
  • SAA members would be able to associate with an unlimited number of Affinity Groups.
  • SAA membership would be required for membership in an Affinity Group. The current inclusion of nonmembers as Roundtable “participants” would be discontinued.

Affinity Groups would be required to have as members at least 4% of the total membership of SAA (currently 6,201) and would have two years to reach that threshold if they are shy of it now. The Council would refine this threshold membership level as needed in the future. Affinity groups that cannot meet the threshold would be permitted to continue as Virtual Community Groups.

Virtual Community Groups

Virtual Community Groups would be created as a means of lowering the barriers to participation and involvement in networks of shared professional interest.

  • Virtual Community Groups could be started with as few as 50 SAA members.
  • An annual renewal request and compliance with general SAA policies on member conduct would be the only requirements to operate as a Virtual Community Group.
  • No bylaws or annual reports would be required, although some monitoring would be necessary as part of an annual renewal assessment to ensure ongoing usefulness.
  • The groups would be supported by SAA with listserv, microsite, and, where possible, social media technology support. They would not be assigned a Council liaison.
  • Virtual Community Groups would not be eligible for space at the annual meeting.
  • The groups would be managed by one or more coordinators who must be SAA members.
  • Nonmembers would be permitted to participate in Virtual Community Groups.

According to the working group, “The proposal aims to find the sweet spot of maximizing dues-paying members’ privileges while controlling the costs of administering and resourcing (space and technology) our diverse bodies. A threshold membership number will guide the Council in its decision to initiate or retire affinity groups. A two-year grace period would be given to all current groups to allow the Council to fine-tune the membership threshold. Virtual Community Groups would merely have to show purposeful activity and make an annual renewal request to keep their active status.”

Additional details of note

Under the current proposal, implementation is recommended to begin January 1, 2016 with full implementation by July 1, 2016.

Proposed amendments to the Governance Manual are attached to the full proposal, available at

SNAP specific concerns

This section will not include recommendations or subjective analysis of the current proposal. The Steering Committee will prepare a statement of recommendations to the Council, shaped by feedback from current roundtable participants. This statement is not meant to deter or preclude SNAP RT participants from contributing individual comments.

SNAP serves a significant number of participants who do not maintain membership in SAA. Participants may choose not to join SAA for several reasons, including current employment status, geographical location, or negative perceptions about the value of membership.

Although shifting to a virtual community group would allow SNAP to continue serving nonmember constituents and member constituents in a single venue, this would require students and new professionals to give up three vital benefits of affinity group membership: continual representation in formal SAA governance through a dedicated Council liaison, access to financial resources for meetings and initiatives, and space at the annual meeting.

The possibility of maintaining two groups – a formal affinity group for SAA members and an affiliated virtual community group for nonmembers – has been proposed during the current comment section. However, it is not clear whether this would be allowed.

Information needed

  • Formal information from SAA staff about the current number of SAA members and nonmembers participating in SNAP.
  • Clarification regarding whether a dual affinity group/virtual community group structure would be allowed under the present proposal.
  • More specific data or functional analysis about the financial impact of extending access to nonmembers participants under current and proposed structures.
  • Feedback from SNAP participants regarding their experiences, needs, and perceptions of value under the current and proposed structure.

To facilitate roundtable participation and provide introductory data on the outcomes of providing access to nonmembers, the 2015-2016 Steering Committee is conducting a survey to gather feedback from roundtable members and nonmember participants.  The survey will be open through September 11, 2015:

In the meantime, individual participants are encouraged to review the proposal and submit comments to the SAA site:


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