Friday, 24 April 2015

Investing in the future of your club (DG News February 2015)

How well resourced is your club’s promotional department?
In addition to stepping into the role of District Membership & PR Chair in July, I was also appointed to the same role in my own club. One of my priorities this year at Edwardstown has been to complete an audit of our promotional resources, and I found there were a few areas that needed attention. I want to give a bouquet to the club’s board members, because they have supported every request I have made 100%. There has been no procrastination, I’ve just been told, “go and organise it”. In the last six months we have had new club fliers printed, a new pull-up banner, new display boards, new pens and new promotional bags.
What were the bags for? I’m glad you asked! In December we participated in a local “Welcome to Australia” event where new arrivals were invited to participate in sports and meet local community groups in an effort to better integrate into the community. It was a great opportunity to tell our Rotary story. OK – we cooked some sausages as well! It crossed my mind that everyone attending would end up with fliers and handouts from the participating groups, and they might appreciate a bag from our club to take away with them. No-one ever throws out these bags, they end up getting taken to the supermarket or given to friends, and as a result, the Rotary wheel gets seen over and over again.
But I know there are many clubs where these decisions appear a lot harder to make, because these things all cost money. Try not to choke on your cornflakes when I say this, but it’s OK to responsibly spend a portion of funds you raise to promote your club. I know this concept may seem foreign to many Rotarians, but in fundraising circles, it is completely normal.
When we conduct our fundraising initiatives such as sausage sizzles, we obviously have to deduct expenses such as sausages, bread, sauce, gloves, etc from our takings before we can declare a profit and pass on those funds. Everyone understands that. The point I’m trying to make is that promotion and advertising should be considered a legitimate expense.
According to the American Institute of Philanthropy, it is considered “reasonable for most charities” if 60% of the total funds raised are spent on charitable programs, with the remaining percentage being spent on fundraising and general administration (I’m not necessarily endorsing that ratio). Many of the most recognisable charities worldwide spend over 10% of total funds raised on promoting themselves: including Doctors Without Borders (11.8%), World Wildlife Fund (20%), World Vison (10.2%), Oxfam (15%), PETA (14.9%) and Greenpeace (10.3%)*. It makes complete sense to me, because if they don’t promote themselves, how do they expect to raise the funds they need to pay for the work they do? Who do you think pays for the TV advertising you see for these charities? The donors of course!
Likewise, if we don’t promote ourselves, how do we expect to attract the members we need to do the work we do?
Our members already pay subscriptions (to cover administrative costs for the running of our clubs, district and Rotary International). It’s not reasonable to ask members to pay again out of their own pocket to promote their club to the wider community. Money spent on club promotion needs to be seen as an investment, an investment that will bring us a return. By all means be responsible in your spending, but be innovative, and be prepared to invest in the promotion of Rotary and your club.
Please note also that the District has a huge collection of banners and signs if you’re planning a big event and need that extra splash of Rotary. To enquire about the free use of these promotional aids, please contact Bob Grant on 0428 834 044.

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