HMN Members Offer Appreciation, Advice at Annual Meeting

By Ellie Haylund

Happy Summer, fellow humanists! I hope you’ve been able to enjoy the weather and perhaps have even found the silver lining in the excessive rain (less garden maintenance?).

At May’s annual meeting, we dedicated time to group table discussions to gather feedback and suggestions. As we grow, we want to grow in the right direction. It’s essential to practice our humanism but to do so in a way that reflects our members’ wants and needs. We are very grateful for all of the responses that we collected. I would like to highlight some ideas and themes that popped up, as recorded by discussion leaders at each table.

What do you value about HMN?

  • A welcoming, nondogmatic community of like-minded people with a purpose
  • Great programming – TED Talks, presentation topics, mindfulness sessions, service projects with enjoyable company
  • Intellectual discussion and critical thinking
  • Emphasis on what we believe in and how we interact with others
  • A voice for the secular world
  • Addressing issues important to humanists, like separation of religion and government, medical aid in dying, secular advocacy – putting values into action
  • A space for nonreligious people without being strongly anti-religion

And a few favorites…

  • “HMN feels like home”
  • ”I appreciate Audrey!”
  • ”I would miss it if it weren’t there!”

What would you like to see happening within HMN?

  • Climate change and environmental work
  • BIPOC and neurodivergent groups
  • Develop deeper alliances with other organizations
  • Make sure all events are warm and welcoming
  • More robust/niche social programming (activity/hobby-based)
  • Continuation of national speakers
  • More widespread promotion of humanism, such as additional billboards and flyers in libraries/coffee shops/universities
  • Keep up the Christian nationalism fight
  • Prioritize growing a more diverse membership
  • Programming targeted at young humanists
  • More letters to the editor in local/neighborhood newspapers from members offering the humanist perspective

What are good ways to raise money within an organization such as ours?

  • Explore enhanced membership perks
  • Consider a podcast
  • Hire a professional fundraiser
  • Bequests from members
  • House parties for fundraising
  • Selling merch
  • Free swag with membership
  • New t-shirt slogans (clever, funny), nonreligious holiday cards, water bottles, totes, buttons
  • Advertising in new places like NPR or on podcasts
  • The Ukraine project shows that we have the ability to fundraise substantially if the right message or purpose is there – we just have to ask!
  • Explore grants
  • Look at other organizations and models which have successfully raised money (e.g., Rotary Club)
  • Collaborative event with the AHA
  • Micro-fundraising at existing events
  • Silent auctions with high-prize items (dinner with a local influential figure) at banquet/fundraiser
  • Concert with like-minded musicians
  • Small fee for educational activities

As always, the HMN board will be getting together this summer for a strategic planning retreat. In addition to further planning for hiring our first paid staff position, we will be digging into the feedback received to make sure we’re moving in the right direction for our organization and for humanism as a whole!

I’d love to hear more from our members about what they value about HMN and suggestions for moving forward! If you were unable to attend the annual meeting, or would like to respond to any of the comments listed above, please contact me at president@humanistsmn.org.

Ellie Haylund is president of HumanistsMN.

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