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Society growth spurt!

Society put on growth of 3.3% last year, says Nic Bilham

Geoscientist 18.11 November 2008

Each summer, the Society's staff carries out one of its less edifying duties - removing from Fellowship those who have failed to pay their dues. Happily, this number has declined in recent years, and is now one of the lowest among Earth science and other learned societies. Even including those who die or resign from Fellowship during the year, the annual attrition rate is only about 5%.

A more enjoyable subsequent task (at least in terms of its outcome) is to compile our annual Fellowship statistics. We always do this immediately after the 'striking off' of those who have not paid up, so that we can compare the annual low point in Fellowship numbers year-on-year. Having completed this exercise for 2008, we are delighted to report a net increase of 3.3% since August 2007 - the greatest by far in recent years. Over 800 new members joined the Society, and despite the 'credit crunch', the number of Fellows failing to renew their subscriptions has fallen yet again.

This impressive spurt is very heartening. Over the past few years, Council has developed a 10-year strategy, which it has started to implement under its current 2008-2010 business plan, and has overseen a hugely successful year of bicentennial activities during 2007, intended not just to celebrate our birthday but also to leave an enduring legacy through projects such as the launch of the Lyell Collection. The fact that so many new members are now joining suggests that at least some of the new developments are finding an appreciative audience - not just among the existing Fellowship, but in parts of the Earth science community that we have not previously reached.

Work is currently underway to plan a Fellowship recruitment campaign; so we are optimistic that this growth will continue. When identifying priorities, Council asked the question whether we should actively seek to grow the Fellowship. It concluded that we should - and, moreover, that we should aim to attract Fellows from all parts of the Earth sciences, including emerging areas, and all industrial and academic sectors. The reason was simple - the larger the Fellowship, the more and better services we will be able to provide. The broader our range of interests, the stronger will be our claims to represent the Earth science community.

So, if you know someone who is not a Fellow of the Geological Society but should be, you know what to do!