February 21, 2017

Celebrations inspire membership retention

Over the years, some districts and/or governors in Optimist International have decided to forego the second quarter district meeting in favor of smaller zone-style meetings.  I am sad to report that my home district is one of those. The thought put forward by some is that by bringing the district leaders to the zone, more members will participate in the meeting.

In a district that covers more than 1,500 miles from the eastern-most club in Idaho to the western-most club in Alaska, there might be some truth to such reasoning. However, in reality, the same people tend to come, whether it is at a near or far location. Sure, there might be a few extra members at the  host location, but I question whether that is enough benefit to warrant the governor and secretary-treasurer, in the PNW District's case, to be on the road for four weekends. This year, those four weekends started January 28 and end on March 18!

Alternatively,  on Facebook, I have noticed some Optimist International districts, WEMO, AMSNW, and OK, among others, were holding full district meetings and hosting big celebrations to recognize the Honor and Distinguished Clubs from the prior year.  What a great idea!

Celebrations are an important part of member retention. As humans, we need to feel that someone appreciates what we've done and as a team, by recognizing the high achieving Optimist Clubs, we will inspire others to do what it takes to be recognized too.

This message is to encourage all districts to make a big deal out of Honor and Distinguished Clubs. When an Optimist Club earns Honor Club, they have proved their value to their members and community by showing excellence in administration and community service. When an Optimist Club earns Distinguished Club, they have also shown another community the impact of optimism for they have started a new Optimist Club. Both Honor and Distinguished Clubs have extended the reach of Optimist International by adding three, five or fifteen or more net members consecutively. All of which deserves a large celebration indeed.

On March 4, 2017, the Caribbean District will host a Hall of Fame Plus One Awards Show to recognize their high achieving Optimist Clubs.  In addition to the awards presentation, there will be general sessions featuring education to inspire achievement this year and a business session to manage the fiduciary matters and strategic direction of the district. Of course, fellowship will be enjoyed by all.

Now that's what district meetings are supposed to be about. And for me, I hope to see the full district meeting model, with awards show to boot, returned to the Pacific Northwest District.
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