1) Keep Meetings Interesting
Are your meetings productive, interesting and adding value to your club? If not, member engagement is sure to be low. Making your meetings worthwhile is they key to engaged and active membership. There are several ways to keep your meetings fun and your members engaged. Try hosting a club meeting off-site at a club member’s workplace, a new restaurant or bar. Consider adding a fun activity for your members to work on during the meeting, like making holiday cards for a local hospital. Inviting relevant speakers based on your members’ interests is also a great way to shake things up.
Triangle YP: This club meets once a month, typically at a bar or restaurant. Their meetings center around a social time, and sometimes include a speaker relevant to what the members are interested in or a small service project, such as making holiday cards for a local hospital. They also meet at local workplaces and do “dinner groups” that allow members to learn more about specific involvement in different professions, such as doing a dinner group at a news station and learning more about publicity and marketing, while also having the opportunity to take a tour of the facility. They take care of business at their board meetings and via email, so as not to bog down meetings with reports. The club also promotes multiple volunteer opportunities each month, allowing members to plug in where they feel most passionate about serving.
2) Choose Projects Your Members Care About
Are you doing projects because they are “tradition”, or because your members are truly passionate about them? One of the number one reasons why people join Civitan is because they want to give back to their community and support organizations that they care about. Survey your members using online tools like Doodle Poll or Survey Monkey (see November blog post about using technology to connect) to get a sense of what type of projects matter to them. If your club has been doing the same projects for years, make sure those projects are still relevant, and your club members are still interested in them. If not, ask your club members what would excite and ignite them to give back to their community. Do a community survey to find out where the holes in your community are, and work together to make plans to plug them.
Example: “Celebrating an awesome effort by the Capital Region Civitan Club is collecting and donating toiletries to the favorite nonprofit of our newest member! Here is Debra Clowes McClain getting ready to bring everything to MCC of the Spirit Hand Up Ministry.” -Capital Region Civitan Club Facebook Post
3) Congratulate Successes
Are you recognizing, celebrating and congratulating your members on the local level for things big or small? Proper recognition goes a long way. From pats on the backs to a year-end certificate, no show of gratitude is too small. Don’t rely on International pins, plaques or milestones only. Recognize club members for work they may think goes unnoticed like showing up at every project for a year, coming up with an innovative idea, or even simply carrying out a few small tasks to help another member. Share these stories on your club’s social media pages, in your club newsletter, and especially during club meetings. Get together and come up with unique or funny awards that can be given out at meetings to celebrate member accomplishments. Have a club member be in charge of sending birthday, anniversary or condolence cards. At the end of the year, consider hosting a member appreciation and officer installation banquet to let your members know just how much you truly appreciate all of their hard work.
4) Have Fun with Fellowship
Are you intentionally planning for your members to have opportunities to fellowship with each other, either during your club meetings or at additional events? Consider your member demographics, and plan fun and relevant fellowship experiences they will appreciate like a flower arranging class, holiday crafts, tennis or golf outing, trip to a sporting event, etc.
Example: The Athens Ladies Civitan Club is Alabama North strives to incorporate all three pillars of Civitan in to everything they do. The club recently held a Bingo social for both members and potential members alike. By keeping the fellowship pillar at the core of all they do, the Athens Ladies are able to serve well and make an impact in their community, while also engaging guests at every opportunity.
5) Help Members Create Their “Why”
Do your members remember why they are a member of Civitan? What’s Your Why centers on philosophy taught by world-renowned author Simon Senek. So often people know what they do (ex: Volunteer at Special Olympics), they know how they do it (ex: serving at the Special Olympics track and field event), but rarely do they break it down enough to realize why they do it. Understanding your why and being able to share it with others can help members better connect with each other and reach out to potential members. Knowing your why and being willing to share it can make you vulnerable and can force you to be transparent. However, in doing so, we reach so many more people around us. Our why is our motivation, our driving force behind all that we do, and it inspires us to act.
Click here for a step by step meeting guide to helping your members discover their why.
Example: Shela Hopkins, governor of the Valley District, has a great why. Her sister Lois Christina has I/DD and that is why she serves in Civitan. She wants to give back to a cause that means so much to her.
6) Give Members Ownership
Do your members feel valued and important to the successful operations of your club? There are so many small tasks that need to be accomplished in order to run a successful Civitan club. It can be easy for veteran members to fall into habits. Doing this can cause your veteran members to burn out and leave the rest of your membership with nothing to do. If members have nothing to do, they may grow bored and find a group that does value what they are able to contribute. A few thoughts on giving your members ownership: have your current leadership mentor future leadership or create a job board for upcoming projects and tasks –
Example: Many clubs create “job boards”. These boards list out all the big or small things that need to be accomplished between one meeting and the next. All members are given the opportunity to grab a task from the board, and then report back on their progress at the next meeting. The people who pick certain tasks may surprise you! Let your new members as well as your long standing members who don’t hold all of the leadership positions pick first. This small step may snowball into them taking on bigger projects and roles in the club.
7) Appoint or Elect a Member Engagement Chair
Is Member Engagement something you could take off the plate of another officer? Often, the business of engaging club members falls on the President. However, there’s plenty to do for it to be a single-focus job. Take something off your President’s plate, give another member ownership of an office, and have someone focused only on member engagement. It’s a win-win-win situation! A Member Engagement Chair can be in charge of celebrating accomplishments, life events, planning fellowships, keeping meetings interesting, and more.
Example: YP Greensboro has a Director of Membership whose job is to work with their 20+ members and to ensure they are connected to local projects that they want to give their time and efforts to, which has traditionally been the mark of not just successful YP clubs but Civitan clubs in general. The more the members connect with their service projects, the greater the chance they will invest long term. YP Greensboro has a long standing partnership with the Greensboro Grasshoppers and staffs a concession stand each season with the Southeast Guilford Civitan Club. At the end of the year they throw an appreciation social for those members who gave back during the minor league season. In addition, the Director of Membership for YP Greensboro helps to foster a sense of community within the club through socials and fun outreach projects. For example, this year they held an ugly Christmas sweater party that also doubled as a service project collecting gifts to donate to the Christine Joyner Greene Education Center.
8) Customize Club Communications
Are you communicating with your members in the way(s) they most appreciate? Survey your current members and ask for their preferred form of communication, and do the same for any new members who join. Make sure you are reaching your members in the way they most appreciate. You may have to utilize several forms of communication to reach every member, but wouldn’t you rather spend the extra few minutes doing that, than let a good member slip away because your communications aren’t reaching them? If most of your members prefer email, send the bulk of your communication via email, but make sure you call or text the few who indicated they prefer to be contacted in those ways. See November’s technology blog for ideas on how to use systems like Remind to automate texting and make things easier for you. Have you thought about using a group texting platform like GroupMe or Slack if most of your members have indicated they prefer text?
9) Record & Remind of Impact
Do your club members realize the impact that your club has had on your community throughout its history? Surely there’s not better way to inspire and motivate your members, than to be able to recount the people and communities that have been changed for the better because of Civitan. Your members will always remember they are part of something bigger than themselves, and realize their value to the community when you record this impact and regularly remind your members of it. Begin keeping a log or spreadsheet of volunteer hours and service projects completed that future club officers can add on to, and keep a running total of hours volunteered, dollars donated, ramps built, etc. This would be a great job for either your Secretary, or your Scrapbook Chair as someone who is committed to preserving club history. Make sure to keep these logs in a shared file online, in a central binder or folder, or emailed from record keeper to record keeper as the true value in keeping a log like this will be down the road when your club can look back at its combined impact over the years.
10) Commit to Trying One Thing
When’s the last time your club tried something new?. It can be very easy to fall into a routine. Routine leads to boredom. Boredom leads to people leaving. Think about the fellowship activities you do throughout the year. Think about the causes you support during the year. Think about the projects you complete throughout the year. If you had to drop one project, fellowship activity, or cause today, what would it be? If you could add one project, cause, or fellowship activity throughout the year what would be? Could you try holding a meeting somewhere different than your normal location, or try holding a meeting with a social so its less formal? The possibilities are endless. The worst that happens is you try something new and don’t like it. But if you don’t try you’ll never know. Commit to trying (at least!) one new idea from these tips in your club!