Getting Engaged

By William (Bill) Murray, President & CEO, NCA
Twitter: @Bill_CoffeeAssn

Volunteers at the NCA 2015 Coffee Gives Back Day of Service

Volunteers building a bee habitat at the NCA 2015 Coffee Gives Back Day of Service

Over the past seven months, as we’ve been communicating more about what’s happening at the NCA, we’re increasingly getting questions about engagement – or, to put it another way, we’re being asked by our members “How can I get involved with the NCA?”

There are a lot of good reasons to get involved. For starters, did you know that people who volunteer live longer?

When you couple this with research – covered by The New York Times – suggesting that  people who drink coffee may live longer, one might conclude that if you drink coffee AND volunteer you’ve got a lot of upside.

That’s even before you consider that volunteering will help you make some great networking connections, gain experience for your resume, raise your profile and give you the satisfaction of helping your colleagues and industry association.

While volunteer work can be satisfying for those who contribute their time, for NCA volunteers are essential.  Our board members, with fiduciary responsibility and strategic insights, keep us on course. Our speakers, Committee members, and Task Force members all devote time, energy and expertise to our day-to-day operation. The NCA literally serves hundreds of members with a staff of eight people – a challenge that would be impossible without the support, guidance, and hard work of our volunteers.

And so in recent months we’ve gotten questions from members who are interested in all levels of participation – questions about how we select members for our board, how members are appointed to committees, how we choose speakers, and generally what opportunities exist for engagement.

The NCA 2015 Volunteer of the Year Award Winner Ron Contaxis

The NCA 2015 Volunteer of the Year Award Winner Ron Contaxis

As a result of these inquiries our Chair, Bruce Goldsmith of Baronet Coffee, raised the issue of member engagement with our board of directors in March. As a result of that discussion we’ve created a Member Engagement Task Force, which is currently looking at four aspects of member engagement:

What can we do to better engage our members? 

For example, could we create a formal “call for volunteers” listing all opportunities to volunteer, with a clear process for application, a stated set of qualifications and criteria, and a formal calendared schedule?  Would better promotion of our volunteer and member awards help encourage participation?

Can we strengthen the process of selecting board members?

For example, might there be opportunities to clarify and better publicize openings on the board as they arise?

How do NCA’s Diversity goals relate to the question of Member Engagement?

How can NCA best serve its members, and the industry, by supporting diversity?

How can we build upon the success of our New Professionals group, which has provided a wonderful opportunity for networking and socializing? 

For example, might the group be enhanced with a mentorship program, a “career corner,” or the creation of online communities?  Would a leadership development program be of interest to our members?

Playing around at the 2015 NCA Annual Convention

Throwing around some ideas at the 2015 NCA Annual Convention

Our work on this topic is at a preliminary stage – our Member Engagement Task Force held its first call this week.  We talked through the issues, reviewed some recommendations and identified next steps, including those topics that will require deeper thought and reflection.  Our goal is for the Task Force to report to the NCA board at the end of June, when the board next meets.

But since this is, after all, a Member Engagement Task Force – we’d like to hear from our members on this subject.

  • Are there new or different ways you’d like to get involved with the NCA? 
  • How would you like to make a contribution toward the industry’s future? 

Please feel free to drop me a line (at – or post a note here on the blog.  I’ll acknowledge your contribution to our process, and you can look for an update in this space on this topic as we continue to reshape the NCA.

Share your feedback with @nationalcoffee on Twitter by using #myNCA

One thought on “Getting Engaged

  1. Pingback: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate | The First Pull

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