Held by Zoom videoconference, 8 June 2020
Attendees: Philip Dinn (chair), Ed Baker, Ken Ball, John Brown, Mike Clarke, Ray Dawes, Ken Garrod, Bridget Gook, Sue Gully, John Kernan, Tim Richardson, John Robinson, Tony Roe, Clive Rutland, Dave Smith, George Stephens, Jeremy Taylor, John Thomson, Steve Timms, Sam Turner, Jane Wilson Brown
Guest: District 1110 Governor Elect Tim Mason
President Philip welcomed club members and, in particular, our guest Tim Mason to the on-line Club Assembly meeting.
President Elect Steve summarised his Strategic Action Plan dated 31 May 2020:
Rotary International Action Plan
The Club has taken account of 4 priorities of RI’s Action Plan:
· Increase our Impact – interpreted as increasing our effectiveness
· Expand our Reach – summarised as achieving Growth
· Enhance Participant Engagement – work better as a team
· Increase our ability to Adapt – in order to be more effective and grow, our team must be flexible to a changing environment
Government measures have forced us to adapt:
· Our communities have needed our support as never before
· Some charities we support like Minstead Trust have lost all income
· The smaller ones are facing an existential threat
· The club has had to distribute dwindling funds to the most needy
Club operations & fundraising
· Social distancing – no meetings – conducted business by email plus Zoom meetings
· After teething problems have become proficient with Zoom
· Enjoying significant benefits of meeting from home, indeed anywhere in the world, and ability to invite guests even DG!
· We anticipate difficulties in fundraising but will aim to compensate with fresh initiatives to maintain ability to support our community where most needed.
Opportunities for PR & Growth
SWOT analysis shows that the Threats posed in our climate also create Opportunities:
· to publicise the positive difference we are making in our community; and,
· to highlight the opportunities it offers for new members to join in
Aims & objectives
1. Endeavour to raise similar level of funding to previous years.
· A significant challenge, with social distancing likely to compromise our major events, charity golf match, supermarket Christmas collection and quizzes.
· Will attempt to make up through new initiatives; 2 promising ideas have already been suggested by members for consideration.
Community & Vocational
2. Continue to donate to most hard-pressed local charities, as screened by C&V Chair, Jane Wilson-Brown.
3. Where possible, continue to support local activities and projects, such as Lifelab, Kids Out, Honeypot’s Shoebox & Totton Lantern Parade.
4. With a view to growth, identify new community projects that may appeal to younger members and busy professionals.
International & Foundation
5. As International Sponsor, implement Jaipur Limb Project in The Gambia through to completion and handover:
· Project details yet to be finalised to the satisfaction of club members.
· First of a series of regular Zoom meetings with Host Club, RC Fajara, on 13th July.
PR & Marketing
6. Commence an immediate pro-active campaign using all forms of media to raise awareness and appreciation of the Club in the community. A question for District Governor: will a marketing grant be available?
7. Identify Club models to appeal to a new, more diversified membership – drawing on the experience of other clubs.
8. Develop and implement a plan for a membership drive in parallel with above.
Steve added that actioning this plan will require a team effort, as detailed by the various chairs later in the agenda.
It his intention to review progress at periodic strategy meetings in the course of the coming year.
Steve referred to a recent interview with RI President Elect Holger Knaak in the ‘Together Talk’ series on the GBI YouTube Channel. Holger said that we should use this lockdown opportunity to review our clubs: meeting times, locations etc, and not return to how we were before.
Accordingly, Steve said he intended to continue to use video-conferencing for some meetings once normal meetings have resumed at the Crown Hotel and the New Forest Inn. He also hopes to hold occasional meetings at Minstead Lodge or Furzey Gardens. Although formal meetings are at present prevented by Government guidelines, small groups may meet if they follow social distancing rules.
This club has an incredibly positive history of active involvement with local community action with charities. This club used an international grant for a new tractor for Minstead Trust for the early horticultural focus on Furzey Gardens and now the new audio-visual equipment in the social enterprise focus using Minstead Lodge. Unfortunately, that story was lost with the corona virus pandemic. But it can still be re vitalised with the right input.
So, the goal will be to continue to work with charities to help them achieve their requirements not just donate money to them.
The focus will be what we do to help to achieve a definite goal.
1. Does the story have a community focus? Totton and Eling is our largest residential and business concentration.
2. Can we link it with a local charity i.e. one that local people benefit from and relate to? The new Rotary dinghy at Testwood Lakes was a story that linked our past and present and that of Hythe Club and the District grant. More importantly every time the sail is raised the Rotary wheel is there waiting for another story.
3. Can we link it to a specific international need. We belong to an international organisation. The world, let alone our local communities, is now aware of pandemics – now is the time to remind everyone that the crocuses that we planted this year in Lyndhurst and Totton told the Polio story. The only downside is the growing number of conspiracy theorists who are antivaxxers and anti-Bill Gates so we will need to look to social media to meet that head on.
4. Can we show how it fits with the Rotary Foundation principles and the financial leverage that the wider Rotary family brings to a project? Our Jaipur Limbs project demonstrates how a small amount of local finance can be magnified to great effect and make a big international impact.
5. Will it appeal to a younger generation? HomeStart New Forest – by definition young families - now have their new gazebo with Rotary Wheel emblazoned on it and are eager to start fundraising at the various events on hold at present, and we will be there with them to support them and provide our own literature and look for new members.
6. Will it make a younger generation want to join Rotary? The big question. Only if they see, hear, and feel the difference that Rotary can make and want to be a part of it, in ways that suit their lifestyles.
Publicity for publicity’s sake is of no use to us. The biggest prize for us as a club will be new members. That will involve marketing Rotary and the principles of Rotary International. We lost the opportunity to show Rotary in action with the Totton and Eling carnival, but we were visible with marshalling at the Lantern parade and we will continue to develop our community involvement.
Publicity and marketing need that focus and whilst person contacts will remain important, we must reach out and I believe that working closely with Jane for community and Tim for membership and social media this is the way forward.
Following on from the PR side, all forms of social media should be used to try and get our message across to the wider public in our area. If this means paying to boost posts on facebook (£10-£25 typically) then that may be money well spent on the right post. This should have a membership growth bias and not just a ‘what we have done’ focus.
Become more active on Twitter but remembering the concept that different words and pictures need to be used on these forms compared to our website which we link back to in all cases.
In terms of new membership, this needs to be project driven if you are to attract the younger elements of society and enthuse them into doing things (and clearly from the volunteers to aid the NHS this is a popular wish). We will investigate a different offering for new membership that should appeal to a more diverse cross section of the community. Whilst we will look at the activities of other clubs for the salient best practice, I envisage a two-stage membership process within the club bearing in mind current members stay as they are.
New members should be offered an associate status to get them to join, aimed at certain projects we undertake. This could be a fundraising drive to build a hospital wing in the Gambia or A project to get something required done at Honeypot or Minstead Trust. This would be on the basis of them being an electronic member in the main, joining in via the web on Zoom meetings or project based emails but being offered the chance to come along to socials and vocational or speaker evenings. This should be looked at as a time constrained period (2 years?).
There could then be either a gentle move to make them full members of this or a satellite club or we could explore the idea of an Associate Plus level.
Having lived and worked in and around Totton for 34 years as have some of our members for much longer periods, I intend to heavily target the business people of our largest conurbation as the focus for our activities. This complements the fact that we collect at both supermarkets at Christmas, take a Totton school to Kids Out, support Hounsdown School through the Lifelab project annually where we have been a Business Partner of the school. We provide dictionaries for life to a Totton school and many of our supported projects have a Totton focus, (the carnival, lantern parade, Mums in Mind, Minstead Trust care in the community homes etc.).
The advantage of having Associates to ourselves is a greater pool of volunteers for collections or assistance at events.
To support the diversity focus, there will be no age, race or gender targeting to this initiative.
4. Community and Vocational Programme 2019-20
The Club will continue to identify and support local organisations that are in severe financial difficulties as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, as long as funds permit. To date, 9 organisations have received donations totalling £2,752.95. At present £1,750 is available in the Charity Fund. A ‘fast track’ procedure, where members of Council vote online for a proposal to support an organisation, has been adopted. This has worked very well and donations have reached recipients within 5 working days of a proposal being put forward. Initially the maximum donation was set at £250 but at the Business Meeting in May it was agreed to increase this, temporarily, to £500. The Club’s profile has increased considerably within the community as a result of this giving and we have received a number of highly appreciative ‘thank you’ emails.
As members are aware, our fund raising capacity will continue to be severely restricted even when things return to ‘new normal’. In order to protect hard earned funds it will be even more important to continue to screen organisations who apply for donations in the same stringent way as at present. Hard decisions will have to be made and inevitably there will be rejections which will be just as disappointing for the Club as for the Charity. It is hoped that we can continue to support regular commitments like Lifelab, Kids Out, Honeypot’s Shoebox Appeal and Minstead Trust. However, if we are unable to provide hard cash we could consider giving more practical support like helping to clear the garden at Honeypot House or working with groups at Minstead Lodge. One thing that has come from the present situation is the willingness of young people to support organisations and each other. Perhaps we could also begin to think laterally and invite the younger generation of our family and our friends to help with projects. This could be a step towards encouraging new members to the club.
During the lockdown, it has been necessary to make greater use of social media and video conferencing in order to operate. I now appreciate the effectiveness of these methods of communication and wish to encourage their use to advertise fundraising functions, promote the Club and generally get our message out to the public. It will certainly be a good tool for attracting new members, especially if we continue to hold business meetings on Zoom. Whilst organising donations to charities I have met a number of young, enthusiastic business people through Facebook and Linked In. I will be sending them a copy of the Club’s information leaflet with an invitation to come to a Zoom meeting to see how we operate. Hopefully, they will be more inclined to make their introductions through Zoom.
Last year we began an outreach programme to Totton and District and developed close links with District Councillor Caroline Rackham. We planted crocus corms opposite the Police Station, in celebration of ‘End Polio Now’, ran a stall at the Lantern Festival and took part in the Lantern Parade. These events, combined with our Christmas collections and Carol Singing at Asda certainly gave recognition to the Club and the Rotary Logo. We also sponsored students from Minstead Trust to enter a float at Totton Carnival but sadly this has had to be postponed. I think we should pick up on this outreach programme as soon as we can as there is a distinct opportunity to grow membership.
In summary, I believe that continued diversification will play a vital role in successful fundraising and in raising the Club’s profile in the community and developing membership. In fact, it is the key to enabling the Club to go forward from the present unprecedented situation.
In May 2019 were approached by Cheryl Currie and Roger Ling of Lymington club to be the sponsor club for the above. It was agreed that the £1100 Presidents Charity donation to the hospitals ICU would be transferred to the JLP. To this end, Don Short, PDG and JLP trustee visited us on 20th May 2019 to present the case. A straw poll indicated that members were in favour of the proposal. This was then put to club council who endorsed the proposal subject to a written timetable with actions and responsibilities to be agreed.
Three local clubs agreed to support the project bringing the total to £4320. Philip Dinn submitted the District Matching Grant Application.
This was followed up with a visit by Richard Maunder, the past District Matching Grants Committee Chair who explained that whilst the District will match the grant, it will be the club that submits the Global Matching Grant Application to Rotary International in the US, and the application will need to be in dollars from a separate bank account. This is to be done online using a supplied template.
The template is a thirteen-page document going into great detail.
Don and Cheryl visited the site in November. The preparation of the building for the workshop had not been carried out as promised. An alternative site at Kanifing in Serragunda, which is a new build hospital, has been found.
The host club (Fajura) has raised $1000, but is not supported by the District for a matching grant.
The Global Grant Application has now been updated and ready in draft form on the TRF grants centre webpage. There are two documents needed from Don to complete the application. The deadline to submit it is 30th June 2020.
Work has stopped on the hospital building due to the virus.
In February Steve Timms attended the District International and Foundation Seminar to obtain further information on the Global Grant Application.
Because of the number of non-attendees to the March quiz, it was decided to have a re-run at the Lyndhurst Community Centre in the autumn. A date for this will be advised when the centre re-opens.
End Polio Now £1000
Shelter Box £1000
School in a Bag £250
The meeting concluded with Tim Mason’s comments.
Tim thanked us for inviting him to our Assembly and congratulated Steve on his plan for the year. He is much in favour of our use of social media platforms and of emerging technology for holding on-line meetings but emphasised that he also has a personal disposition towards the use of the old fashioned telephone. He likes to talk.
Growing Rotary is not just about increasing membership but also embraces increased engagement with the community and world at large. Particularly important is to listen and then respond. He asked if we have been in touch with Totton FC to which Philip replied that we have but contact was on hold during the current pandemic. Tim said part of the club is run as a social enterprise and that the Chaplain, Simon Young, was a good contact.
He believes that Rotary may be able to help alleviate the unemployment situation in some way yet to be determined when the country comes out of lock down.
Tim stated that he wished to recruit Rotoractors into District for association with individual clubs, and that the District Environmental Officer wanted to involve them in environmental projects. He felt they could be linked to some of our current and past support activities such as Testwood Lakes Sailability and Minstead Trust. He fully supports our vision of increasing global reach using Zoom or equivalent apps for holding video meetings.
PR & Marketing - He encouraged us to apply for a District marketing grant to bolster our public relations campaign. The contact for this is Chris Slocock, District Marketing Chair
Tim mentioned Rotary Community Corps which can provide groups of up to ten volunteers to help us with our projects, and provide a path to membership. We undertook to investigate this further.
He would appreciate being invited to a future meeting if and when we hold one at Minstead Lodge.
He asked if we make use of Rotary Club Central as they can help with publicising our achievements. There is a dedicated RCC officer who can provide us with guidance. This is very worthwhile as it highlights our positive impact on the local community which in turn serves us well if/when we apply for local authority grants.
Membership - Tim commented further on ways of increasing membership suggesting that Twitter and Facebook is a useful way to get the message out and engage with the public at large. Family membership is to be encouraged (he said, like the National Trust), as is Associate membership as a means of introduction prior to joining.
Community - On fund raising he has been aware of other initiatives during lock down including on-line hot air ballooning (this one needs some further explanation!) and a virtual dog show where entry fees were charged.
International & Foundation – Tim is pleased we have approached the Foundation for a grant on the Jaipur Limbs project. He will be pushing for clubs in his District to engage more with Foundation during his year in office, and to push it as our own charity.
Tim closed by saying that he was pleased to note our intention to hold periodic strategy meetings during the course of the year.
Tony Roe commented that running Zoom meetings without muting all participants as the default setting is not working well as ‘off-screen’ noises are disproportionately loud and distracting. He recommended that future Zoom business meetings be run with all participants muted, [note: this would require all participants to use the Hand Raised icon to register an intention to speak].
Meeting closed at 20.45.
Business Meeting by Zoom videoconference: 22 June 20
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