Friday, June 23, 2006

Recruit, recruit...

Retention and recruitment (of members), two concepts that are supposed to be "natural" trajectories of rotary clubs, but have become sort of "elusive" for a number of clubs from many districts, both big and small clubs. This is particuarly true for our club with only 10 members.

So, during the official visit of our incoming Assistant Governor for the cluster, Edgar Castillo, middle of last month, this thing naturally cropped up. AG Edgar was accompanied by incoming District Membership Committee Chairman and PP Fed Sapitan. These 2 guys are cool. AG Edgar scoured through the series of questions (ala-multiple choice) in the "Planning Guide for Effective Rotary Clubs", discussed the answers that I gave, from target membership by the end of my term, community projects, and so on. While PP Fed focused on his field: membership expansion. Fed even addressed the past presidents (PPs), pointed out that "Somehow, PPs have bigger responsibility in recruitment than the current President because if membership will fall and the club is delisted from RI, you become a PP of a non-existence club."

We've had several discussions in the club in the past why we couldn't make those who have come once to come back. One of the reasons that we identified was our meeting place, which may not be so impressive for our recruits; so we changed venues. Another reason we identified was we did not have a regular series of talks that can attract people, so we planned on a number of talks and speakers. For some reasons we did not push this, partly because we don't have enough warm bodies to fill the room and give our proposed speakers a good number of audience.
Personally, I went through a list of my friends whom I should recruit. I have three criteria in selecting my potential recruits from among my friends. First, they preferably be males, since our meetings are on (Monday) evenings. Second, their office or residence should be not far from Fort Bonifacio, so they can either come quicker, or go home quicker. And third, they do not have family time constraints (like the wife is pregnant, or having months-old baby), or do not belong to other organizations that also require their weekly presence.

I realized later that I may have made my criteria rather strict, because from among my friends, I was able to identify only about 7, and 4 of them have immediately expressed regrets when I talked to them due to other commitment (work, family, church). So I am down to following up with only 3 among my male friends. So far, 2 of them have come at least once, and I just hope that they will ultimately join our club.

So, I will have to relax my personal criteria in inviting from among my friends. Meanwhile, other members of my club have started bringing in their own recruits. Two new recruits are "inductible", we'll do it during our club hand-over ceremony early next month. A member that has been inactive for the past 3 or 4 years suddenly called up and said he'll be active again, so that's another good news for us. We are waiting for other recruits of other members to show up in the coming weeks.

Slowly, patience and perseverance should work in our favor.

Distass, May 6

Last May 6, we attended the 2nd and last required training seminars for PEs, the District Assembly or Distass (the first was the PETS, last March). Host club here was the RC of Makati Center, under Serving President Leonardo "Nards" Tanlu. The activity was held in Canyon Woods Resort Club, in Laurel, Batangas.

Like the PETS, I again hitched with classmate Rey Alas (hey, we're neighbor), PE of RC Makati-Nielsen, along with Joel Ciron, PP of our club.

Several times in the past, I have passed by Canyon Woods (between Tagaytay and Lemery) and I was always curious how it looks inside. So the Distas was my first opportunity to finally enter the resort. And wow, it's really grand! The clubhouse is huge, and the posts, huge and rounded cement posts, they look like giant wood trunks.

Before the program proper, PEs have again posed for a group picture with Gov-Elect Butch Francisco and wife Maling. As usual, people have good smiles whenever you lump them in a big group and lots of cameras clicking and flashing in front of them.

Gov. Jimmy Cura was in his usual stance -- delivering eloquent, extemporaneous (no notes) and inspiring opening address. Gov-Elect Butch is also in his usual poise -- always smiling, and doesn't talk long.

Our main resource speaker that day was PDG Bill Dethlefs from Australia, who spoke on "To serve we must grow", showing some numbers about membership, and emphasizing the need to retain and develop current members and recruit new ones.

The luncheon plenary was rather long. There were 5 topics delivered by 5 panelists: DSWD Sec. Esperanza Cabral on Hunger, RC Makati PP Puno Pena on Health, RC Makati JPRizal PP Lita Wells on Literacy, RC Makati PP Tito Panlilio, and RC Makati Dasmarinas PP Ding Dizon on Family of Rotary.

But what made things bad, even intolerable for others, was the delayed serving of lunch! I was able to finish my lunch about 1:45pm; somehow I was lucky because others haven't eaten until past 2:30pm.

The afternoon group sessions was more dynamic. District officials on one group, club secretaries and other club officers on another group, spouses on another group, and our group, the PEs, on another. Naturally, DGE Butch was our main panel speaker. I still cannot remember the names of many of my classmates, but many dished out valid issues and questions. One of them suggested that instead of a scheme where clubs compete with each other for points to get awards, the system be changed to non-competitive point system where some clubs would earn sort of "summa cum laude", others "cum laude", and so on. This way, clubs will be competing not against each other, but within themselves how much work they can accomplish, from membership expansion to having Paul Harris fellows to community/youth/international services.

Classmate Inky Reyes voiced out his members' concerns that although DGE Butch wants club inductions to be as simple and austere as much as possible to earn points, his members want to have a grand party at a grand place, and he's going to invite all of us, fellow Presidents, to witness that big event in their club. We applauded the man of course, for that very early invitation. I even suggested to Gov. Butch that we better do away with the points system for the club induction because while Inky will not get points, he will make us happy with a sumptuous food and drinks treat! But Gov. Butch replied that he'll keep the said points system for club inductions. If some guys would throw a lavish party, no problem; if others will be austere about it, no problem either.

Then another session on same groupings. Our session was "Using new technology", led by PDG Willy Segovia and PP Fritz Ocampo. They talk about using the web for our education on RI matters, how to use web-based texting, and so on. Gov. Willy even gave away 2 discs, one on downloaded important RI materials especially on TRF, and another on Powertext software.

The program was ended with a group singing of "Lead the way" (tune of "happy heart") with classmate Joey Lina as lead singer.

We left Canyon Woods rather dark, past 7pm. This time, Joel and I hitched with PP Herman Gapac on our way back to Makati as Rey Alas has to go to Alabang for some business meeting.

Whew, formal district trainings are over. The challenge of actual club work and trainings still beckoning...