Should a member take a sabbatical from their forum?

Forums sometimes ask about members taking a “sabbatical” for a period of time or participating on a remote or limited basis.  Several considerations if your forum finds itself in this situation:

  • If a member cannot commit to participate regularly, a sabbatical may be the best choice.  If everyone else is very committed, and a member is sort of in and sort of not, it is not great for forum health.  Everyone (including the partly committed member) could get frustrated pretty quickly.
  • If everyone agrees that a member will take a sabbatical, it should be for a clearly defined period, typically no more than one year.
  • As the end of the designated time period approaches, the forum should revisit the member’s status.  Is the member rejoining with everyone’s agreement and commitment, or would it be better for the member to permanently resign?  No one’s status should not be left indeterminate or open ended.
  • Before a sabbatical or resignation, invite the departing member to give an “exit” presentation.  The theme can be around goals for the sabbatical or long term life goals.  The presentation can end with everyone expressing appreciation for the member’s contribution to the forum.
  • If, instead of a sabbatical, a member is going to stay in and participate remotely, see these best practices for virtual participation: https://alumniforumblog.com/2013/09/09/attending-your-forum-meeting-virtually-the-right-way-to-do-it/

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