Posted on Dec 14, 2020
We all know that whole communities are doing it ‘socially’ tough right now, service Clubs and community groups are part of the crisis – yet may be the solution for many.

I am sure most clubs have had plenty of ups and downs and instability that they have had to ride out since their charter – setbacks can make us stronger, in various ways, it may well be that a strong service club will be the panacea for many, coming out of COVID as we adapt to the way we operate and the services we offer, to meet that ‘new normal’.

We need to stay focused and bounce back with inbuilt resilience. Now is the time to focus on more than bouncing back to get you to where you were before COVID, we need to safeguard our clubs future; develop and implement strategies that will help make you viable to your members and your community. The second wave should be the obvious warning that things are not going away overnight. A third wave and fourth wave flare ups have been predicted. There will be no ‘back to normal’ following COVID-19 pandemic; the idea of simply ‘bouncing back’ isn’t feasible.

Businesses are already focusing on economic alternatives to supply, fortifying their resilience, streamlining their leadership, developing more caring and flexible working cultures and lowering their risk – this will be the norm for the better organisations.

Despite your current pain of not meeting, or at risk of becoming a ‘Zoombi’ we must start strategising around a ‘new normal’ grasping the communication and learning opportunities that have opened up. RI President Holger Knaack urges us to ‘work together to explore flexible options’ and to ‘devote this time to strengthen your program’.

Clubs cannot afford to be slow in reaching out to the members and community, talking about how things are going to change with the future, taking advantage of the opportunities, learning and technology as it arises, analysing our weaknesses and planning. Unfortunately, a look at ‘My Rotary’ indicates that planning is not a strength of many clubs. A club analysis and goal setting, engaging all the members, may be a good starting point.

A strong club now, may not be a strong club when things return; communities have undergone enormous behaviour change. The classic example will be handwashing and social distancing these may become the norm, as long term forced behaviour change becomes a permanent way of life.

Thus, planning for your club's future will involve:
  • Trust of your members – most members are fiercely passionate and dedicated to their clubs and will go above and beyond to support the club. This is where the good relationships and benefits of membership will pay off.
  • Respect of your members - backing members is vitally important, there is no better way to crush the willingness of a volunteer than to knock them back – there are plenty of other groups who will appreciate their enthusiasm. They might do things differently – perhaps different is better. Support them knowing those decisions were made using the best evidence and the right intention at the time.
  • Investing in your members with prior skills, knowledge, contacts, and authority. If you are not there – I am sure members will step up and run the Club.
  • Participation through giving newer members the reins; by listening, and instigating their ideas and visions as part of your succession planning and training. Every club has a mix of workers, managers, and leaders – group dynamics in a volunteer melting pot – it makes our clubs interesting and different from the workplace. Develop those members through delegation and training opportunities within Rotary, at Club, District level and beyond.
  • Tough decisions are part of these times we are going through, it will not last forever, but do not let the important things slide. The most important asset you have in your club, or any workplace is the members, or workers.
  • Spend your time on things that matter the most. As one PDG once told me, do not worry about your number plate light, if the headlights are not working.
  • Good financial management and cost control is always vital – but now more than ever. Are venues, meals, fines and donating money to every other organisation, at your own members and club’s peril, effective?
The best advice is to hang in there, get some outside advice from your Assistant or Area Governors, Training Team, District Chairs, District Governor, Assistant Rotary Coordinators, etc.
Most importantly, do not be afraid to try different things. Stay strong and do more that bounce back, lets knock the ball right out of the park.
Article by ARC PDG Brian Coffey