This came as something of a shock. We were friends, so we thought, and had been for nearly a year. There was no indication of complaint, and we're rational people who understand if the guild isn't meeting someone's needs. To be blindsided by this has left us with many unanswered questions.
So my question is, what should we do next? They didn't take anything with them but our respect, but we want to know why.
It's sort of like getting dumped, isn't it? You thought everything was fine one day, and the next day, without any explanation at all, he or she isn't returning your calls. Nobody likes being treated that way. And the fact of the matter is, there isn't a whole lot you can actually do about it.
You could send them a private message through your guild's Web site, if you have that functionality. You could roll a toon on their server and attempt to contact them in-game. However, if they really wanted to discuss the reasons for their actions, they would have done so already. They know exactly how to get in touch with you, and they haven't.
In my experience, most people do this because they aren't getting what they need from their current guild, whether it's faster progression, more PvP, or something else. These vanished members probably assumed that in order to get what they want from your guild, the guild would have to change dramatically, and that's usually not in the cards. Even if those wholesale changes could be accomplished, they often take a long time to bear fruit.
So your members started shopping around for a new guild that could better suit their in-game goals. And they found one. Now they're gone. If you really want to find out why they left, figure out what that guild is doing that your guild isn't. Check out their Web site or look up their officers' gear/reputations/arena ratings in the armory.
Why didn't they speak to you first? They may have felt terrible about it and couldn't face you. They may have been so disgruntled and unhappy that they didn't think it was worth going through the drama. Whatever their reason, they're gone. And you need to let it go.
But that doesn't mean doing nothing. Your job now is to improve communication. Before anyone else pulls the same stunt, you need to establish a dialog with your membership. Find out where the guild is letting people down and where the guild is succeeding. Use that information to make changes that increase the likelihood of members staying put. The next time people leave, you'll have a better idea why, even if they don't tell you directly.
Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!