Monday, 22 June 2020

New Beginnings at New Dawn

The end of the Rotary year is in sight, but definitely not the end of lockdown in one form or the other. Most members probably agree that it would be great to be able to meet again in the flesh, to catch up with each others' lives before and after a meeting and breakfast at the Parkview Golf Club. To be able to do so at the induction on 4 July would be even better, but alas, it doesn't seem at all likely.
     Although Zoom will no doubt be with us for a long time yet, it cannot satisfactorily substitute for every kind of meeting.
Useful information for Zoom-ers
     A new Rotary year brings new challenges. We'll all raise our hand in agreement that President Judy Sligcher's year has been a magnificent success, despite the challenges that the coronavirus has brought.
     We'll all also probably agree that we look forward to a year of Ian Widdop as president in anticipation of the club growing both in numbers and, even more importantly, in influence.
     How is this going to happen?
Dr Michael Angelo Caruso during his Discon presentation from Michigan in the USA
     Dr Michael Angelo Caruso gave a few hints during his presentation at Discon last weekend.
     It's worth listening to it and it can be found through the Discon link emailed to all members in D9400.
     He's a Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Troy in Michigan, USA, incoming Rotary Public Image Co-Ordinator for Zone 28 and a professional speaker. In 1996 he was part of a Vocational Training team that visited South Africa, of which he says he has happy memories.
     In his presentation he says there are four things we as Rotarians can do to improve Rotary.
     1. Shore up Comms: he uses a military term to say communications should be improved, starting with social media. The problem is that with all the social media presence, "they're all kinda the same. We copy and paste the same message to 5 or 10 groups and we don't care who sees it, as long as some people see it. We don't see if the relevant people see it and we don't hang around for the response, we don't answer questions."
The Facebook group's page. It's worth joining
     To counter this, he's started his own Facebook group called Get the Word Out, Now! Anyone can join and if you take the club seriously, you should do so.
     The idea, he says, is not to copy average anymore. "When we send average signals, people perceive us to be average, so we have to be exceptional all the time."
     2. Rotary should be very clear on our goals. Most importantly, goals should include numbers. Want to grow your membership? Say by how many and by when. "Numbers are not open to interpretation and numbers are not fuzzy".
     Do you want your club to be fun? Say how and say when and by when, he advises. Also measure how many visitors you attract to meetings and functions, because they are the potential new members.
     3. Rotary should commit to outward facing programming, which he describes as key to growing club, district and overall membership, recalling that when he was incoming District Governor in 2016 (D6380), the Discon was opened up to Rotarians from other districts and to non-Rotarians, mainly because he could arrange for top speakers through his connections in the public speaking circuit. Zoom has created the opportunity to get sustained interest especially from overseas member to join in meetings.
     4. An improved club experience is very important because "we need to be sure that when people miss your meeting, they feel like they really missed out on something and when they have that feeling they won't ever be gone for long.
     "When a visitor comes to your club and it's the most amazing thing they've seen in a long time, they can't wait to come back a second time and a third time and then eventually you can offer them a membership application."
     "This is the kind of club experience that we want . Our membership numbers show us that perhaps the club experience is failing us, that the value proposition of joining Rotary sounds pretty good to most people when they join, but somehow that is not fulfilled in the 6 months or year after they have joined, because a lot of members drift away from us. By improving the club experience we can make Rotary a better overall experience for everybody."
     Does New Dawn tick all those boxes? It's a question we need to keep on asking ourselves. And we need to keep on improving on the answers.
Audrey with honorary patron for the CampaignFIA, former President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia
     Good speakers are one of the elements that make for good meetings and experience has taught us that good speakers have a definite impact on attendance.
     We've been fortunate to have a number of excellent speakers for our Zoom meetings these past three months. One of them was  club member Audrey Gatawa at the meeting last Wednesday.
     Audrey is one of the newer members of the club, but has already made her mark.
     Audrey works at Standard Bank where her job entails engaging government and regulators with regards to financial sector policy and regulation.
Audrey with Sophie Williams-De Bruyn and Lindiwe Mabuza
     Through her travels in most parts of Africa she helped establish an NGO, the Campaign for Financial Independence in Africa (CampaignFIA), with ex-Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda as its honorary patron. "The aim is to embed financial literacy into the Basic Education curricula of all 55 African countries in the African Union." They've started their own short courses to get the ball rolling and attempt to teach basics such as why it is so important to save and how you need to contribute value to earn money.
     "We want to raise a generation of young Africans who understand the concept of stewardship and managing Africa's resources for the future."
     Dates to Diarise: The meeting on Wednesday (24th June) is the last one for Judy Sligcher as President. Judy will use the opportunity to have a casual Zoom meeting (it starts at 7 am) to catch up after a hectic few months.
     There will be no meeting on Wednesday, 1 July. The induction of Ian Widdop as president will take place on Saturday, 4 July, starting at 6 pm. The invitations and programme will be going out shortly. It's going to be fun, informative and a special event. Members are encouraged to invite friends and family and most of all, prospective recruits (see the summary of Michael Angelo Caruso's Discon talk above). According to Jankees Sligcher, we can host up to 100 people at the meeting, so let's try to fill it up.
     A Thought for the Week: The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people. - Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890)

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