On Saturday 11th March 2017, three members (Gill, Sue and Marion) attended the regional Development day in Taunton. The information provided was interesting and stimulating. It was clear that most SI clubs face challenges similar to those identified by SI Bristol, namely: succession planning, changes in communication methods (e-mail, website, social media), how to break the ‘best kept secret’ mold, and recruiting new members. Also the concept that SI clubs have moved (or are moving) from an ‘invitation only professional’ group to a ‘women from all walks of life; even retired’ group was mentioned. Succession planning was deemed important as SI clubs face [or embrace] the move from the model of operating under a rolling annual basis to one having longer term plans with sharing of duties club wide.
To aid in the transition, practical tools, in three categories, were described: Growth Plan, Easy Stage Guides, and Websites and Social Media. Below is a brief summary of each aspect.
Growth Plan: the Growth Plans followed the SIGBI sessions run by Accelerator for Clubs throughout the UK at which St Austell and Barnstable represented our Region. Both clubs presented their experiences. The aim is to identify areas of importance for each Club for the next 3 years by a brainstorming session with all club members, select top few as areas of initial focus, identify achievable, measurable targets for each, and develop a plan for how to make it happen. Training sessions for this activity are in the planning stages.
Easy Stage Guides: many Easy Stage Guides are on the SIGBI website (login>Clubs>Easy Guides) and participants were encouraged to check them out. Breakout groups brainstormed on five Easy Stage Guides: Mentoring, Marketing, New Members’ Meetings, Retention/Values and Behaviours, and Succession Planning. Each group reported back their suggestions to all participants.
Websites and Social Media: a talk and demonstration of the SIGBI website, Facebook and Twitter was presented by Sally, Regional website administrator. She showed us how to reduce the size of a photograph and how to add it to a website. She also pointed out the importance of Club members writing newsworthy articles and/or giving photographs to the webmaster.
These tools can provide direction and give a practical way to achieve goals identified by SI club members. Good job because we were told that SIGBI has big plans. Their goal is to double membership and for Soroptimists to be the leading women’s club by 2021. Detailed feedback on the day’s activities will be put on the Regional website.
It was a worthwhile, satisfying and educational day.