Our guild isn't large by any means. In fact, we're a tiny guild, although that's not for want of effort. The Rogue Knights has been around on Elune since beta, and has had a constant stream of very good players throughout our time on the realm. However, a while back a group of players decided to leave the guild, and since then we haven't quite recovered. How can a few simple people make the difference? Well, these players have gone on to form the core players in some of the largest guilds on the server, so you can see how that might affect our guild.
On the other hand, I've had lengthy discussions with friends on the realm about the difficulty with keeping a guild sustained. Many of the guilds we have allied with to raid simply no longer exist. The draw of the larger raiding guilds is strong, and we have lost many a good player to them. I think this shift is happening all over WoW. Loyalty to the guild is a fragile thing, in the same way that in today's society people are rarely loyal to a company for their whole lives. It really is sad that smaller guilds get used in this way: we clothe and arm the players, help them through the instances, run Gnomer until our eyes bleed. In the end, they use up the kindness of the guild and move onto to more shiny possibilities, the epic loot we can rarely offer except through alliances. Those alliances themselves are tenuous, and since the Expansion seem hardly to exist at all.
Where does this leave us? Firmly in the bracket of the "small guild." As much as I regret this, I have come to accept that people will leave, and that the players that care enough to stay are the ones I really want to play with. We have become a family, to the point that I miss them when I cannot play, and am eager to speak to them when I can. We nurture each other, laugh and cry with one another, are there when anyone needs a hand. The players come and go, but the family remains the same.