Virtual Development was a priority during the last biennium and remains a priority this biennium. Carolien Demey, Sabine Mach and their task force have done great work on this topic. This exciting new concept was presented at the 2019 Governors’ Meeting in Zagreb.
Joining the SIE Board about eight months ago as Vice President, I was assigned to Virtual Development. In keeping with the excellent work already engaged, the objective was now to make this project a success. While maintaining this momentum with Sabine and the same task force – knowing we can’t afford any longer witnessing the decline in membership – we have to trigger this process to develop differently. Quite a challenging mission!
Being all very aware of the facts – decline in membership, ageing, other more competitive/attractive networks, lack of time, meeting formats, to name just a few, we had to move ahead to encourage new growth, Virtual Development being one chance.
By inviting the Unions to participate in a survey to share their thoughts on the topic, their progress in implementing an eClub, and asking them to nominate a coordinator to be the link with the SIE task force, we were able to draw a clear picture of what is happening within our Unions. The information given in the survey highlights the interest in this project and gave us confidence in its great potential.
In the second phase, we met with the coordinators and all members involved in the project online. Unions already involved in eClubs presented the key steps of implementation in their country, which was a great opportunity to learn from each other’s experience, share best practices, open minds to new ways of developing and recruiting, as well as the possibility to clear misunderstandings in the eClub concept.
We are really pleased with the positive results so far, some resourceful Unions already have groups of potential members very active and visible on the social network. So far 7 eClubs are under construction adding up to 70 virtual members, namely 70 futures Soroptimists and it is only a beginning. Many thanks to all of you for this energy and creativity to motivate and attract young members!
During the Covid-19 pandemic and the forced confinement, Clubs, Unions, Federations very quickly identified the need to host online meetings, advocate, support those on the front line, those in great difficulties… and keeping a link. At any level « reinvent oneself » was the motto. Finding a way of networking, using videoconference and disseminating all other means of communication, Soroptimists succeeded to ensure continuity in their projects and actions, adapting to the context, experimenting new tools, using any means necessary to achieve their goals.
An eClub is not only meeting online. We have to build virtual “Clubhouses”. These are online tools where the members can meet in a conference as well as in small groups, exchange and store information, share a calendar, pictures, videos whatever needed for being able to set up a project and work together in the Soroptimist way. In the next webinar end of June, we will surely talk about that and learn from our Unions.
eClub is a 4.0 tool to address the younger generations, to help maintain membership growth and ensure the longevity of our organisation and make it more attractive. Working in a cross-cutting approach – one of the aims of the biennium – in the main topics are covered by Soroptimist International, we will be able to propose a dynamic and attractive organisation to new generations.
Now is the momentum we should use, let’s go for it and start into a new Soroptimist Century with eClubs!