A Tale of Two Clubs

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.

Steven Murphy
Executive Director


3 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Clubs

  1. This is interesting and it brings up several thoughts. First with respect to the GEM. I too have been asked at conventions and PACs why did “Sertoma” quit doing something. In some case, like some of the old individual and club awards, it was true, but in many cases it truly was that the program is still there, it’s just that the club doesn’t “do” it anymore. When you tell the individual that, the response is usually,”Well, it might still be there but “Sertoma” doesn’t promote it enough.” That could well be a valid point. It should make all of us stop and think as we move our organization forward in the new century of service – what tradtional programs should we keep and promote? As a young Sertoman, I used to tune out at International conventions when a parade of people would march across the stage to be recognized for achieving some award. I would think is that the only reason they did it? To get an award in public? Being more older than wiser, I now think it was both. The public rewarding of their actions by giving them an award was just the icing on the cake for them – and who knows how many others in the audience were motivated to action? I know time is short at both regional and national conventions to recognize everyone for all the great work they do in their local communities, but should we find a way to acknowlege what we do, if nothing else then to inspire others to do the same? Then, how do we work this into a crowded convention schedule, or is recognition in “The Sertoman” enough?
    As to the second point of the closed club. Coming from a region that used to have two of the biggest clubs, I know something of the problems extremely large clubs face and can understand why some clubs would not want to get beyond a certain size. But goodness sakes why not encourage people who would like to join a “closed” club into building a new club? It seems like a no brainer to me.

  2. Over the years we have had tasks forces that talked about the “Awards” program and what this program meant to Sertoma, the members and the clubs. These groups were made up of Board Members and members throughout Sertomaland. Surveys were done, awards that were ordered through headquarters were reviewed, and conversations with individuals were held. It was interesting to see and hear what was important. The GEM Award was one that everyone thought strongly about. It is the responsibility of our leadership to keep the information out in front of our members (through PAC, the “Sertoman”, Liaisons, etc.). I don’t have an answer on how clubs should promote their awards – this is a decision that each club should make. Everyone thinks about awards differently. Some want an actual award they can see and others are fine with just a verbal thank you. Neither one is wrong!

    As far as closed clubs – I agree with Tim. If we have individuals who are interested in joining Sertoma and can’t get in because of the standards the club has then they should help with building a new club. Everyone benefits – more volunteers to do Service to Mankind.

  3. In the 35 years that I have had the privlage of being a Sertoman I have meet many dedicated men and women going that extra mile for Service to Mankind. With very few exceptions, none were interested in an award. Every Sertoma Club should have an Awards Committee. These are the guys who keep score. By public recognition, the people doing the work are honered and other members are motivated to do a little extra.

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