A very good question… but very difficult to answer, for several reasons. It’s a standing joke that if you want three different opinions on a given subject, you simply ask any two Mensans. Member benefits are probably the same way. Members join for a variety of reasons, and many have more than one reason. Hopefully, you will find a reason somewhere in this list that appeals to you. If not, we can respect that.
Mensa is largely a social club, and one of the most common reasons is for social interaction. Many members have joined looking for romance, while others have joined simply for pleasant company. Some join for the company and wind up finding romance along the way, leading to an “M&M” marriage. Mensa is trying to make that easier, by partnering with Match.com – who now enables Mensans to make Mensa membership one of their search criteria.
But if you want romance or just good company, it’s easiest to find that while you’re out meeting people. Mensa is an international organization made up of national and local groups, and most of those local groups have regular face to face meetings. Any member is welcome to attend a meeting in any local group, so when you travel you can look for a Mensa event in that area. Close to home, you can always host an event of your own. Mensa is very much a “Do it yourself” organization, members are not only allowed but encouraged to plan events around their own interests. If you want some company to play a special game, go to a particular movie, visit a museum, see the Knights play, or check out one of our local Roller Derby teams, you can get it on the calendar. Yes, bar crawls too.
Oddly enough for a social club, polls have shown that four out of five Mensa members consider themselves introverts. But introverts still need a social life, even if their definition of “social” is slightly different from the one most people use. Two or three people meeting at Barnes & Noble to discuss a book of the month is just as much a Mensa event as twenty or thirty at a summer picnic. If you are more comfortable in small groups, we understand.
If you just don’t want to deal with a group of any size, you can flip through the Mensa Bulletin, published nationally ten times a year. Professionally edited but with content almost entirely member generated, it provides an attractive and very interesting view of what other members are doing. Our local newsletter, the IdioM, is a lot smaller but is published monthly and includes the calendar of events. Both are included in your annual dues.
If you want some interaction but just don’t want to leave home, there’s a variety of online media to choose from. Membership automatically includes access to the nationally managed Online Community, which includes both bulletin-board style forums and a live chat area. You can connect with other Mensans nationally on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Yahoo! Groups provides email discussion lists for several national Special Interest Groups. Locally, Charlotte/Blue Ridge has its own Facebook group, LinkedIn group, Twitter feed, and YouTube channel.
The SIGs (Special Interest Groups) deserve to be treated separately. You will hear that “Mensa has no opinions”, and as an organization, that is true. It’s even in our International Constitution. But it is absolutely NOT true of the members! Those who wish to share and discuss opinions on almost anything are welcome to form their own SIG. Current groups cover topics including Amateur Radio, aviation, bitcoins, beer, clergy, Club Med, haiku, horses, needlecraft, and naturists…. you get the idea. The list is at http://www.us.mensa.org/connect/sigs/sig-listing/.
For those with a more financial outlook, there are member discounts available with several nationwide companies. Check out the list at http://www.us.mensa.org/shop/benefits-and-services/ for discounts on car rentals, travel arrangements, office supplies, and even pet insurance.
For some of us (even if we are socially adept enough not to admit it in public), there can even be a little bit of an ego boost. If you have always doubted yourself, just knowing you qualify can be powerful validation. Those who do want something a bit more visible can also get a vanity email address. For members of American Mensa, a typical address would be your.name.US@members.mensa.org. There’s no extra charge, as long as you keep your dues paid up.
But in my personal opinion (Webmaster speaking), some of the most attractive social aspects have been things that I have NOT found. At events ranging from three members to eighteen hundred, over three decades, in five states and six different local groups… I have never heard two members comparing (or even discussing) their IQ. The vast majority have no interest in doing so. They are too busy enjoying the wide ranging and infectious curiosity that we all seem to share.