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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Membership challenges? Here is an offer for your Optimist Club

It is no secret that membership in service clubs is declining. Optimist Clubs in the Pacific Northwest are no different; however, they typically have their ups and downs. One-year membership will be up, and the next it will be down, just like a roller coaster. I'm writing this note as an alert. For some reason, membership in the PNW District appears to be in a freefall. That roller coaster is on a big plunge!

The PNW District was a Distinguished District in 2014-2015 ending the administrative year with 80 more Optimist Club members than it had when it started.

Things have taken a dive from there. In 2015-2016, the PNW District ended the year with 59 fewer members and in 2016-2017, it ended with 97 fewer members. Today, in the fifth month of the 2017-2018 administrative year, the PNW District is down 53 members. At this pace, it could reach a loss of 100 members by September 30, 2018.

pnwdoptimist membershipSo how do we redirect the roller coaster?
Which curve will lead us to the uphill climb?

The answer is simple: JUST ASK! We must ask people to join our Optimist Clubs otherwise, they look on and sometimes cheer on those who work to make the community a great place to live. Many say that asking is the hard part and that is why we want to introduce you to a great membership recruitment tool: NOW.

NOW is the acronym for New Optimists Welcome. The concept is simple - Your Optimist Club invites a group of prospective new members to a single event, explains what the Optimist Club is and what it does in the community, and then asks those assembled to join. When one person says yes, the group dynamics inspires others to join as well.

 Here are the steps to hosting a successful NOW program:
  • Set the location, date and time of the event - allow ample time for invitations, but not too long for enthusiasm to wane. Three to four weeks in advance seems about right. 
  • Identify potential new members
  • Send a letter to each prospective new member inviting them to the event
  • Follow-up by phone and email to remind invitees to attend
  • At the event, serve a meal, appetizers, desserts, drinks, or the like to allow time for networking
  • Begin the presentation on time and keep the event to one to one and half hours in length
  • Show and tell about the Optimist Club's programs in short, no more than three-minute stories
  • Have a closer wrap up the stories, explain the dues and fees, share a personal testimony, and ASK for the sale
  • Have applications already at the tables, within reach, with Optimist Club members available to help the potential new member complete them NOW
  • Raise hands and voices when someone joins so that others catch the wave of excitement and join as well
  • Follow-up after the event with those who don't join at the event to extend the New Optimist Welcome pitch
  • Click here for the NOW brochure from Optimist International.
Now we have an offer for you! 

This post was prompted by a note from Glenda Standeven. Glenda is a published author, inspirational speaker, and past Distinguished Optimist Club President of the Chilliwack Optimist Club. She has offered to visit Optimist Clubs in British Columbia between mid-April to June 30 and serve as the closer at their NOW events. We send many thanks to Glenda for making this offer and encourage you to contact her at 604.792.6638 or at her website

So that clubs in the US have access to some outside inspiration, Linda Vaught, past International Vice President and past Outstanding Governor of the Distinguished PNW District has offered to serve as the closer at NOW events in Washington, Oregon, or Idaho. You may reach her at 208.861.2310 or by email to arrange a date. 

We must all work together to bring the PNW District membership to a positive level. Adding members strengthens your Optimist Club and enables it to do even more to serve youth and community. Help others improve themselves by encouraging them to be an Optimist volunteer. 

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