The Flywheel


On the twelfth day of Christmas, Richmond gave to me...

clinking glasses

Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay reports on gifts— actually the product of a lot of hard work and prudent decisions— that the Richmond gave him, and all of us, in 2008.





MEETING OF December 19tH, 2008

The following report of the meeting of December 19th, elicit responses from Charlie Fender and Judy Kafka. As we promised, the responses are printed below.

A Richmond Rotary Self-Examination

President Mark lead a group conversation on the issues and opportunities he sees before us. The discussion moved along these lines:

Our greatest challenge
Why are we having difficulty recruiting and hanging on to new members? Some possible answers:
   - Too great a time commitment is expected
   - Costs too much
   - We’re not visible in the community; too much international emphasis
   - Have we ignored Richmond’s obvious problems?
   - Too much check writing and not enough hands-on-work?

   - Rotary great “franchise”
   - Great people
   - Good funding opportunities
   - A veritable goldmine of social ills.  (Pehaps only Mark could identify this as an asset. ;-)  )

Will visible, meaningful, and relevant local projects will attract new membership?
"We don’t need to build another water well in Nigeria this year; we have enough problems here in Richmond." 

Peace Garden
This is something tangible that puts our name before the community. A clean-up day was just organized by the neighbors themselves, without Rotary participation involved. That's evidence of a seed that's been planted, leading to self-sustaining growth.
Does such work get us more positive exposure?  Does it prompt the involvement of new members? New friends?  Does this show us to be more caring and relevant to the community?

Richmond Rotary Peace Project:
In contrast to our sometimes "shotgun approach" of many small projects, the Peace Project encompasses an extensive, year-long engagement of our members with the local community. How—and when—do we measure its effectiveness?

How does the club sets funding policy with regard to what programs we support every year? Our new direction requires more money than we have been raising.

Is "philanthropic capitalism" an answer?
The Rotary Wine Club raised $10,000 in sales in the last six months.
Expanding on this, we could pursue wholesale sales for other clubs, organized around wine tasting events.

The Ghosts of Winehaven event was another example of "philanthropic capitalism". The event was  fun, drew on our members' creativity, the community's generosity, and took advantage of one of Richmond’s historical assets.  (Too soon for a walk down Memory Lane? Nah.)

We can repeat that model next year with Ghosts of Shipyard III.

Considering community projects
Jan Brown offered an insightful way of assessing the year's community projects. Consider each project, she said, in the light of two criteria:
  - Does it build fellowship?
  - Does it create interactions with those we serve, with the broader community?

Preparing bins of useful articles for Teen Moms

Looking at the past year's community projects, some satisfy one or the other criteria, while some satisfy both: Peres School Read Across America, Childspree, Teen Moms, Peace Garden, Rotary Peace Project (remember, this has three components).

We raised funds and donated to many other projects this year, but this list represents only those in which Rotary members worked directly in the community.

Community projects and membershp
We have been discussing a second way of thinking about community projects, mentioned earlier: Is the project driven only by check-writing, or does it also require roll-up-your-sleeves efforts to be successful?

Most projects require a bit of both. But seen through this lens we may get a different take on the questions raised at the outset: what do we expect of new members and why do they decide to stay?

The Club leadership welcomes your feedback on these ideas, either verbally or in written form. If you want, e-mail your suggestions and comments to Nick. He'll compile them, delete those he thinks are nonsense (just kidding), and post them on our website.

-Meeting notes compiled and edited by Nick Despota

Response from Charlie Fender:

I don't know what the current method of welcoming new members is. In times past the new member(s) were invited to an old member/board member/president's home for wine and cheese and a welcoming and a get-to-know time. New members were assigned to a board so they would feel needed and boards would have quarterly meetings/ projects. Also, a "who Am I" , in addition to a short talk at the meeting would be published in the newsletter.

New members were "scoped" and given details about the what and why of rotary. There was a booklet for them. And told why they could choose a board to work on. If they missed 2 or 3 meetings the president or board member would phone and gently find out who - or the sponsor. Everyone needs to feel wanted and to be given a position. And jobs should be rotated. e.g. Jim Young has been program chair for a couple of years. He has done a great job but that, among others, is a position that should be rotated quarterly. (e-mail, 12/23/08)

Response from Judy Kafka:

The Peres project started out as a hands on & money which I'd like to see, in a sense, revived. (e-mail, 12/24/08)