Saturday, December 12, 2009

Renewing Your Membership

'Tis the season to renew your STC membership. This message addresses the increase in membership dues, what's in it for you, and provides a report on what your Community Council has been working on in 2009, and what to look forward to in 2010.

What's in it for me?

Over the past few months, I have been privy to many discussions regarding, "what's in it for me if I renew my STC membership?" And—typical for our field—the answer is, "it depends on who you're talking to." For some, the publications, job bank, and resources on the and sites represent the value. For others, the value is intangible and provides a sense of community, professional identity, and opportunity for learning and discourse. Personally, I enjoy the camaraderie of fellow technical communicators because we are a unique bunch. Also, the STC Toronto network has been the source of my employment for over 12 years and has kept me up-to-speed on current industry trends, technologies, methodologies, and innovations. Here is a summary of benefits we've posted on our website:

Community membership

For 2010, there will be no pass through funding for any chapters, and it will be revisited in 2011. This means that when you renew, if you choose to pay the $25 to be affiliated with the STC Toronto chapter, chapters will not see that $25, but your name will land on the official chapter mailing list. We may see pass through funding again in the future, but that depends on the financial outcome for STC in 2010. 2009 has been a tough year and STC international is dealing with the repercussions as best as they can.

From an STC Toronto chapter perspective, our pricing model for professional development events has three tiers: Student, STC Member/Affiliates, and Non-Member. As long as you have your membership number, we will charge you the membership fee. The price difference between Member and Non-Member is double.

Increase in membership dues

STC has announced its dues structure for 2010, and for many of us it amounts to a significant increase. STC offers some points worth considering at They have added new membership benefits recently, so you may want to check them out.

To help fit STC into your budget, STC has provided a basic membership that includes online publications but no affiliation with a chapter or SIG. Hard copy publications represent a large expense for STC, so you have to pay a lot extra to receive them. STC provides a plan that enables you to pay for your membership in four monthly installments.

STC has also set money aside from one of their scholarship funds to help a limited but substantial number of underemployed members renew. They have not yet posted the details of these "recovery packages" on, so keep your eyes open for that.

If you don't rejoin, you'll have to pay extra to attend professional development events, but you are still part of our community. You don't have to be a member to receive announcements. A good network is especially important during hard times, so please stay connected by letting us know that you'd like to stay on our email distribution list and do keep coming to our professional development and social networking events.

How is STC Toronto doing financially?

Since Bernard Aschwanden, Immediate Past President, introduced the 5 Events/5 Socials model and initiated partnerships with local vendors, our operating budget has been breaking even. These numbers heavily depend on professional development event attendance. If we make money on an event, we turn around and apply it as a subsidy to the next event.

We have approximately $5000 which we keep as a reserve for down payments on venues for bigger events and to be prepared for miscellaneous and unplanned costs.

Report on 2009

In September, we hosted a successful Career Day at Seneca College at York with over 50 attendees, free to members and students, sponsored by Seneca College and Mimic Print and Media Services. Our social event in October took place downtown at The Pilot in Hazelton Lanes. In November we hosted our Tech Trends event at Front-Runner's conference room at Yonge and St. Clair, which focused on translation strategies, and was sponsored by Able Translations. This month, we have opted not to have a social event since we will host one in January.

We also continue to work diligently towards keeping our website current, using modern technologies and social networking strategies for communications above and beyond mass emails and our blog.

2009 brought significant focus to the administration of STC Toronto as a whole, as mandated by STC international. We are in the process of becoming an incorporated non-profit organization and aligning our bylaws with STC international, ensuring they follow Ontario laws as well. We have been working closely with the STC Southwestern Ontario Chapter, who were able to secure pro-bono legal advice. A very warm thank-you to Fei Min Lorente and her council for all their support in this process.

Professional development events in 2010

Looking ahead to 2010, our first professional development event is Management Day, scheduled for Friday, February 26th. We have three fantastic speakers booked to provide us a "fly-on-the-wall" perspective on how companies are achieving success with User Centred Development, Agile Process, and Content Reuse. Stay tuned for more details, we are ironing them out right now.

For our final professional development event, Education Day, we are looking into the logistical possibilities of making it a joint venture with our colleagues at the STC Southwestern Ontario chapter. As you have seen in a recent email, we are looking to you to determine the content and location for the event; your feedback will determine the viability of a joint venture. This event is tentatively slated for April 19 to April 20.
Don't forget about the STC Toronto/Soutwestern Ontario Regional Technical Communication Competition. Judging for that starts in January! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact our Competition Manager.

Nurturing the network

STC Toronto is a community that overlaps with many others that all land under the umbrella of technical communications. It is our goal to nurture our existing network and to expand our network to connect with other organizations. This is why we offer membership rates to affiliated organizations. It is with this frame of mind that we host our socials. Our next social is scheduled for January 19th. It offers an excuse and a location to get together to enjoy the company of fellow technical communicators. It is also an opportunity for newcomers to the field—who are not necessarily members—to ask questions of more seasoned members and for folks who are looking for employment to let it be known.

I'd like to conclude this note with a warm thank-you to our Community Council for all their volunteer efforts this year. I would also like to share that our membership count is 358. As always, if you are interested in joining the Community Council or wish to volunteer, or have suggestions or constructive criticism, please do not hesitate to contact anyone on the Community Council. You have an open invitation to attend any of our meetings.

Best wishes to all of you during the holiday season.

Anna Parker-Richards
STC Toronto Presiden