In recent weeks I have been traveling and have visited with many clubs. Out of those visits came a couple of experiences that gave me pause to consider: what is it we can and should be doing?
Our first tale began with the question, “what is working or not in Sertoma?” During the lively discussion that followed, one member shared a story of how it used to be.
This member told the tale of when, as a new member, shortly after being inducted, he was called by his Club Secretary and told to pull out his GEM book. The Secretary wanted to know which of the requirements was first on his list, and when he planned to address the various steps. There were Board meetings to attend, other clubs to visit, and of course a member to recruit. It gave him a great start and made him feel part of the club. “Why,” he asked, “don’t we do this anymore?”
My only response was, “Good question.” But the reality is that the GEM program is still supported by Sertoma, and was never removed. So his real question was, why did his club stop using the program as a means to engage new members? I don’t know if he has found the answer to that question yet, but his tale did make me think about how we engage and set expectations for new members. Have we just stopped using what works, or do we need new ways to get our members off to a great start?
The second tale began on another day, as a club discussed its sponsorships and membership. This club President announced they had turned away several potential members, as they were at capacity (their membership is capped at 60.) The stunned silence in the room was overshadowed by the almost casual statement they limit the membership, and turn away new members. This club had clearly set expectations and had engaged its members – as it was not only retaining them, but was attracting others who want to join. Is this just the result of an attitude, the result of action, or both?
Here is what I have learned from these two tales. They tell me we need to re-examine the real expectations of being a Sertoman. They tell me we need to evaluate whether we have, and are using, effective strategies to engage people in Sertoma service. People need to have a clear understanding of the expectations and support they will get as volunteers. Our efforts must align with peoples’ values and desires, and people must understand the why and how of our efforts. If not, then we will not recruit or retain new members and volunteers. These are tales that should make us ponder: is our future being defined by the change that happens to us – or the changes we make? My sense is that setting expectations and strategies for engagement will be a focus of training at the April convention.