Originally published in the Kin Magazine June 2017 (Volume 94, Issue 1) Official Publication of Kin Canada
Talking Membership Growth with Bill "Rockstar" Roskar
Bill is a part of the Kinsmen Club of Stayner in District 1, a club that has seen nothing but positive growth in the last few years. They are hoping to have 40 members by the end of the Kin year. We sat down with Bill to learn about the recipe of the club’s success.
The Stayner club has a number of projects they get involved in including their Christmas dance, comedy night, duck race, and golf tournament. Annually, they donate $10,000 to Cystic Fibrosis Canada and the rest of their funds go back to the community. Members of the club find this specifically impactful because they are able to see the effects of their work. One of the projects they are working on is a gazebo in the park where they hold their duck race. This is also something that differentiates them from a club like Shriners.
Here's what Bill had to say:
Bill: You look at Shriners…another service club... we were at a Shriners meeting last week... But you know what their problem is? They do well and are tough on their members financially but their money all goes to the Shrine hospitals. 100% of it. Well, for people around here, the nearest Shrine hospital is in Montreal and people have a hang-up about that. We support the hockey teams, etc. but [all of the club's donations and spending] is all local stuff.
Bill mentioned that the Stayner Kinsmen have great meetings that all members enjoy.
Bill: What we need to do is make the meetings fun; make it fun for the guys, or the girls, to come to a meeting—it’s that simple. If they have fun, they’ll tell their friends. If they enjoy the meeting, they’ll tell their friends. If their friends enjoy the meeting, they’ll come back!
The Stayner Kinsmen make a point to incorporate fellowship, games, and social time after the meetings which are always structured, efficient and ends promptly at 9 PM. Bill believes that the route to membership retention and engagement is fun and this all starts at the grassroots with how a meeting is run. A great way to practice this that Bill has done in the past is planting members in the meetings to chatter, ramble and heckle and teaching the chair how to handle it.
Bill: We need to look at what’s gone on in the last 20-30 years. Membership has been sliding and sliding and sliding. We are no different than other service clubs. Kiwanis, Lions, and Rotary are not doing too bad, but all of us are sliding and some are disappearing. So if we’re not going to fall into that same trap then we’ve gotta be a little smarter than all the rest. And I think it really comes back to teaching our presidents how to run a meeting.
In the Stayner area, there are other service clubs operating and the factors that differentiate the Stayner Kinsmen is the way they run their meetings and have fun. It is the atmosphere and their incorporation of fellowship that makes them stand out in the area.
Bill: With us, we have a Lions Club in town…we help out on their things and they help us out with ours, it's a friendly rivalry. But new people won’t join the Lions Club because they’re all older and their [numbers are] suffering. Our local Lions Club, they have 35 members, 7 are active, most come out to the meetings, have dinner and go home—there’s no fun. The caterer that we have and the caterer that they have are the same person. She said, “Oh yeah, the Lions are boring, they’re just no fun, they don’t do anything, they come, they eat, they go.” She loves our guys. We’re low key and we have fun. I’ve got 5 members who are ex-Lions; that tells it right there. This Association was built on the fun and fellowship. And I still remember when I was elected, Hal was in the room and he said, “Keep your meetings fun above all else,” and that’s what we’ve stuck with, and that was Hal.
Some of the club strengths Bill mentioned in addition to this are that they try to get the members out to District Conventions and Fall Leadership Conferences. They make sure everyone new or seasoned is treated as an equal. When they do recruit, it’s on a one-to-one basis telling people about the club, inviting them to the meeting and getting their information to follow up with them. All in all, they have fun meetings, include fellowship, and create an environment that members are proud to bring a friend or co-worker into.
5 Tips for Running a Great Meeting
After putting the call out to a variety of members for information on how they run their meetings and why their meetings are great, we have compiled a list of the best tips from Kin Canada members on running a successful meeting.
Make it fun!
To attract and retain members, we need to keep meetings fun and exciting! Make it fun, have time for fellowship after, play games, socialize, have themes, invite guests and other clubs to join you.
Run efficient meetings
Start your meetings on time, have an agenda and stick to it. End your meeting at a respectable time. Cut the chatter and rambling and keep people on topic until the business is done. Be efficient!
Get out of the house!
There is always somewhere you can go to meet that is neutral ground for everyone.
Treat each other as equals
Make sure everyone is treated as an equal and has a voice, even when you bring in new people.
Good of Kin
At the end of the meeting do a round of the Good of Kin. Whether it is something Kin related or not, it's a good way to get everyone involved, talking, sharing. This helps create those friendships and lasting connections.
Bill: Get out. Get out of somebody’s basement and go to a restaurant; there is always a place somewhere. You could borrow a back room in a restaurant. Get your meal and make it fun. Then what you can do is bring other clubs in. Like the Collingwood Kinettes; they invited us out. Interclub events bring out their numbers and it gives them a chance to make their meetings a little more boisterous and a little more fun. I think that’s where you have to start. It’s tough, if you’ve got 6 members. I don’t care who you are, that’s tough.