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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Membership growth: a vital message for Optimist Clubs

Certified International Trainer Robert Schiller facilitated the Optimist International Leadership Summit in Portland, Oregon on June 14, 2014. Following the model previously held in 14 other locations, there were 26 Optimist Club members on hand, including Optimist International President Ron Huxley, to learn about leadership and involvement opportunities in Optimist Clubs, Districts and Optimist International.

Optimist International Leadership Summit, Portland, Oregon

Getting people, members and non-members, involved in projects and making them feel welcome at meetings were key messages of the conference. Involvement leads to membership retention and helps the club with their recruitment efforts.

Also emphasized was that purpose of an Optimist Club is not to perform projects. Instead, the purpose or goal of the club should be to ensure that it can continue to exist so that it may meet the needs of its community today and in the future. Yes, positive and relevant projects are crucial to that goal, but even more so is a continuous stream of new members.

In order for Optimist International to continue to exist, it must also continue to grow by adding new Optimist Clubs. Starting and mentoring a new Optimist Club is perhaps the most important project that an Optimist Club can take on.

Often overlooked is the ability that clubs have to publicize their own events through two significant means. First, when hosting an event, make sure that the Optimist Club name is prominently displayed at the top as the owner and coordinator of the activity. This branding asserts the Optimist Club's involvement, and as Bob Schiller pointed out, it's necessary for insurance purposes. For example:

  • Right: Yourtown Optimist Club hosts Kid for a Day with Yourtown Community Shelter
  • Wrong: Yourtown Community Shelter hosts Kid for a Day sponsored by the Yourtown Optimist Club
The second way is to use real stories, from real people about why they belong to an Optimist Club and more important, why they are involved with the club's activities. This last point is the critical part of President Ron's theme: My Optimism (MO).  Sharing why we are passionate about our Optimist Club projects will encourage others to try it out and possibly become passionate as well. 

We're still looking for those stories, friends. Tell us yours today

Thanks to the presenters who spent the day in the Pacific Northwest District: Ron Huxley, Robert Schiller, Danny Schuette, Fred Wallace and James Minyard. And special thanks to the attendees from as far away as Texas, Idaho, Washington, British Columbia and the host state of Oregon.