Today I got an email from SFWA alerting me to a legal fund they'd established to assist authors dealing with legal fees incurred from a particular copyright issue. And while I have no need for this particular legal fund, I was still happy to hear about it. It was a great reminder of why I joined SFWA.
I know the Internet has been abuzz with SFWA's difficulties lately. Ever since the "Chain Mail Bikini"cover, things have been pretty ugly in SFWAland. Their outreach tool, The Bulletin, has been stepping on toes quite a bit, and a lot of people are upset with the entire organization.
SFWA can feel like a tiny club of entitled writers, and it's not necessarily the perfect community for everyone in the speculative fiction writing field. But if you're not looking for community, if you're just looking for the kind of cover-your-butt-protection provided by a legal fund and an emergency medical fund and a team of people who actually understand big problems like literary agencies with new owners and no understanding of publishing; or publishing companies struggling to pay their authors; or the Google Book issue--well, SFWA provides that in spades.
I'm not happy with everything about SFWA, but I do know that when the time comes to renew my membership, I'll be paying my dues. It's a bit like paying for insurance: I might not love everything about my insurance company's business practices, but I sure like the peace of mind it provides.