Change is opportunity. Moving away from membership.

The Golden Crown Literary Society was originally established with a goal to increase the visibility of a genre of literature that was frequently being overlooked. Many years have passed since our founders came together and formed this organization, but one thing hasn’t changed and that is our passion to spread the word about sapphic and women-loving-women literature.


In 2021, when the GCLS started to consider the future strategy and programming to support that strategy, we realized that there was something holding us back. Something that had been at the very core of the GCLS at the beginning was no longer an asset to us, in fact, it was at odds with our mission statement to increase the visibility of our literature. And that is the concept of membership.


It’s a fact that many membership-based organizations are restructuring in order to be more inclusive and welcoming, favoring a supporter model over a membership one. Research into nonprofit donations tells us that more and more people are cause-based and not organization-based donors. This is especially true of younger demographics who are often referred to as “drifting donors.”


A membership structure simply doesn’t suit everyone and it certainly isn’t viable for an organization that wants to attract as many eyeballs as possible. Hiding some of our content behind a paywall, for members only, is the opposite of what we should be doing.


Having examined this issue from every angle, the Board agreed that moving from a membership structure to a supporter structure would benefit the GCLS and the genre. However, they were keen to hear from members and a number of focus groups were held in January 2022 to gather opinions.


Director of Communications Betsy Carswell and Managing Director Amanda Radley spoke candidly with a number of members including a mix of authors, readers, publishers, and Writing Academy students and staff. The focus groups included members from multiple countries and various years of membership, including some who had allowed their membership to lapse.


The focus groups were overwhelmingly supportive of this move. One focus group attendee said, “Without change, we don’t grow and if we don’t grow, what’s the point?” And we couldn’t agree more.


And so, the GCLS is pleased to announce that from February 2022 we will no longer be a membership-based organization. There will no longer be a distinction between members and non-members and instead, everyone will be welcome to engage in GCLS programming and receive GCLS content.


Of course, as a nonprofit organization, we will still need to fundraise in order to continue to produce our programming, deliver the important work of our Writing Academy, administer the leading sapphic awards in literature, host our prestigious annual conference, and more. We have established a fundraising committee in order to diversify the ways we raise funds and replenish the loss from our membership dues structure. We’ll share more details of these exciting new initiatives in the future.


One of the ways you can support us right now is to continue giving. We’re making it easier than ever to give what you are comfortable with within a timeframe that suits you. Our new donation system allows you to give any amount you choose either once, monthly, or annually. And, if you can’t give right now then that is fine too. You can still enjoy our Virtual Series programming, attend our conference at the lower membership price, and even join our social media Hub. All for free.


We’re thrilled to be able to take this step as we know it helps us to achieve our mission statement of increasing the visibility of our literature.


We know you will have questions and we’re happy to answer them. An FAQ section will be added to the website shortly to address any and all concerns. In the meantime, you can email michele.reynolds@goldencrown.org with any comments you may have.


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