In her May blog for Membership Month, Membership Director Chevonne, posed the question, “Why am I a Soroptimist” and I want to continue along this theme.
Ladies think back and ask yourself the following:
- How did I learn about Soroptimist International?
- Who introduced me?
- Why did I join?
- Why do I stay?
For some of us, including myself, the memory has to go back quite a long way! I have been a member for 24 years and learnt about this organisation, with a name I could not remember, from my boss who was a well established member; she had drip feed me information over a number of months before I took the bait. She was the President of the local club and for International Women’s Day organised a study day with a focus on a hot topic at the time ~ HIV & AIDS; as a nurse manager I was interested to hear about the views of members of my local community on a subject most people were shying away from. I attended and was impressed by the way this group of ladies were willing to find out about a subject most people would not mention in polite company: they were not afraid to ask difficult questions of the specialist health and social care professionals and importantly take it further, wanting to know “what can we do to raise awareness locally”. I signed up to become a member and have never regretted my decision. It was the “doing part” that appealed to me, I could in my small way play a part in influencing change: it was what made me join and why I am still a member, the subjects have changed but we are still not afraid to focus on difficult subjects such as Human Trafficking & Modern Day Slavery, Domestic Violence, Forced Marriage and Women in Prison.
Recruitment and Retention of members has always been intrinsically linked to the programme work we undertake locally and internationally: to attract members and keep them we must demonstrate we are active in our local communities making a difference to the lives of women and children; working locally is where it begins and the rest will follow as the new member learns about the global organisation and how we can impact on decision making especially via the UN. So, what is local? It might be your local town or community or in this age of working digitally it is likely be a wider geographical area. Working locally does not mean being parochial. A positive outcome of the Covid-19 pandemic is how we have embraced change: how we meet, organise ourselves and function. Eighteen months ago, Zoom was something I had little knowledge of but now take joining in conversations and meetings on line as being normal. Embracing the opportunities digital working has offered us has opened up a whole new world: we can chat to our Friendship Links; we can invite excellent speakers from elsewhere to join club, regional or national association meetings and join together to extend our spectrum of influence more widely. This is the medium our potential new younger members live and function in. The development of e-clubs is an exciting way of carrying on the work of the illustrious ladies who we follow: they were pioneers and we must not be afraid to embrace a changing future as they so willing did.
Rephrasing my original questions let us ask ourselves:
- How can I tell women locally about Soroptimist International?
- Who can I introduce?
- How can I influence them to join?
- How do I encourage them to stay?
Violet Richardson Ward, was the 1st President of the 1st Soroptimist Club in the Redwood Forest of California and her lifetime motto was “It’s what you do that counts”, let that be our mantra but let us broadcast our work so we are no longer a very well-kept secret!
This year Soroptimist International celebrates 100 years of working for the rights of women and children, often being the voice of those who suffer and are oppressed, it is a proud heritage for us to take forward in to the next exciting centenary but to do so we must have a thriving vibrant membership
Membership Standing Committee