October 11, 2012

Grow or die

We are eleven days in to a new Optimist Club year. Annually, on the first of October, Optimist Clubs change presidents, Optimist Districts change governors and the International Office and all Optimists welcome a new international president.

Each individual comes with new ideas and fresh energy to take our service forward. Sometimes I wonder if there is too much changing going on. One barely learns their job and then it is time for them to hand off the baton to the next volunteer. That's the way of membership associations, of course. A membership association must involve its members - all of its members - in its leadership opportunities. How else do we learn what is important to them? How else do we remain relevant?

A great number of people might recommend conducting a survey to learn what is important to most. As opposed as I am to surveys, I recently did just that. There were three points that I hoped to gain from the survey:
  • Determine if members felt they received enough information from Optimist International directly or through the District channels
  • Determine if the reputation (purposes) of the organization was communicated effectively
  • Determine what information members felt was most important
So far, I've learned that members want to receive more information and that they want to learn how to market their local clubs more effectively. While I haven't completed the analysis, I also believe that those surveyed believe that the organization's reputation or branding is not always evident in the communication they receive. 

As readers of my blog know, that's an important trigger for me. Optimist Clubs do great things in their communities and we would never want that to stop; however, the only way that we can insure their survival is if the organization thrives. We must share the same mission and benchmarks. We must grow in service and that means we must add people, programs and funding. 
optimist international grow

Growth, as insufferable as the word is to many,  is the benchmark and we must accept it or die. However, why we are growing and what we will accomplish as  members who are unified in the purposes of this great organization must be communicated lest we may wither from the randomness of our own good deeds. 
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