A word about marketing local Ruritan Clubs

From the desk of the Rapidan District’s Publicity Chairperson, Linda Bradshaw:

I’d like to discuss publicity for a few minutes with our Ruritan Clubs today.

Whether we like to think about our Ruritan Clubs as businesses or not, they are, in fact, a type of business.

Target Market (free clip art)

Target Market (free clip art)

The primary goal of any business is to stay in business! In order for our Ruritan Clubs to “stay in business,” we must increase and maintain our membership!  We must “market” our clubs to the right “target market” in order to do that!

In order for our Ruritan Clubs to grow, we need to appeal to the younger, more technologically savvy generations. Those generations are our “target market.”

One of the most effective methods to market anything in today’s technology-heavy world is by using the Internet’s Social Media platforms.

Social Media (free clip art)

Social Media (free clip art)

Ruritan National workshops held at conventions advised the attendees to use websites, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to promote awareness and membership in our local Ruritan Clubs!  There is little doubt that Social Media is THE KEY to the future of Ruritan membership!

I would like to encourage each club to have BOTH a website and a Facebook Page.

Facebook (free clip art)

Facebook (free clip art)

Consider this:  Everyone that reads Facebook uses the Internet, but not everyone that uses the Internet reads Facebook!  Only 25% of Facebook users are in the United States, and 25% of Facebook users are under the age of ten. Although Facebook is still a valuable resource, there have been several articles this year that suggest that Facebook’s popularity is waning.  Of my own personal circle of family, friends, and neighbors, the majority of them have Internet access but refuse to join, or use Facebook. Yet they all use the Internet’s Google’s Search engine to find information that they need.

Internet - man searching online (free clip art)

Internet – man searching online (free clip art)

Having a “real” website that has the proper keywords built-in will help people find the information they are seeking about your club quickly and easily without having to search multiple posts through a long timeline on Facebook. “Real” websites can have “search” features and multiple pages that Facebook simply does not have. Don’t get me wrong – Facebook is a valuable supplemental resource that can enhance the publicity and marketing of a club. A “real” website, however, is the keystone of an Internet marketing campaign.

Sharing options on WordPress websites

Sharing options on WordPress websites

One useful feature of some websites I’ve developed (using the free, easy, user-friendly WordPress platform) is that they can be set up to automatically cross-post to their associated Facebook pages.  This is done on their “Sharing settings” page under the “Publicize” option (see photo above.) They can also be set up to cross-post to other platforms as well, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, and more! That feature eliminates duplicity of work.  You can publish a post to the website, and be done with it! The information goes everywhere you can possibly want it to go!

Calendar of events (free clip art)

Calendar of events (free clip art)

The websites can also have calendar of events features, so your club can use it as a resource to publicize upcoming meetings and events.

Now, I understand that some clubs may have concerns about the costs and technical difficulties of buying, creating, and maintaining a website.  Not very long ago, websites WERE expensive, and difficult to buy, create and maintain.  Today the annual cost is very affordable.

For example, GoDaddy is selling domain names (dot coms) this month for $2.99 for the first year. Their renewal fees typically are below $20 per year.  (The prices vary, depending on sales and promotions at the time.)

Internet (free clip art)

Internet (free clip art)

By having the local clubs purchase their own domain, the local clubs can maintain total creative control over their own websites, and can create as simple, or as complex, a website as the club desires. The WordPress platform is free, and easy.  The WordPress Platform can be used to create a static page website for a club that only wants to have one or two pages that don’t change, or it can be used to create a blog-style, dynamic web page that can be updated with posts about current news and events.

The Rapidan District Cabinet will purchase a “real” domain name for the District, and purchase the web hosting service plan that will allow the Rapidan District to host unlimited websites on their server. The Rapidan District is offering to host the websites of local clubs within the Rapidan District on the District’s server for free. This offer applies to both existing sites, and new sites.  Hosting the local club’s websites on the District’s server will save local Ruritan Clubs a significant amount of money each year. (GoDaddy’s least expensive web hosting plan is $84/year, although it sometimes goes on sale for 50% off.)

By putting the local Ruritan club’s website on the District’s server, the local club can then spend the money saved on some other important Community Service Project! That is a win-win situation!

workshop (free clip art)

workshop (free clip art)

One free workshop was held in July 2014 to help local club’s volunteer webmasters understand the basics of creating a WordPress platform website.  Another free “make-up” workshop will be scheduled in the near future for those clubs whose webmasters were unable to attend the first one.

If your Rapidan District Ruritan Club is interested in participating in a future  free (yes, free!) workshop, please use the contact form below to express your interest and to advise when your volunteer webmaster would be available to attend a workshop!

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Solicitation for Donation Registrations NOT REQUIRED for Virginia Ruritan Clubs

Letter from National about Solicitation law and exemption

Letter from National about Solicitation law and exemption

From The Desk of the Lt Governor:

Many years ago Ruritan National registered all of the Virginia Ruritan Clubs with the State of Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. This registration was to allow all local Ruritan Clubs in the State of Virginia to Solicit for Donations. The Virginia Ruritan Clubs do not have to register again. If they attempt to do so, their applications will be rejected and their fees will be refunded. This has happened recently to one of the local clubs in the Rapidan District.

The subject was discussed during the June 2014 Summer Leadership Conference. During the conference, Michael Chrisley made it very clear that Virginia Ruritan Clubs do not have to register. Clubs in other states, however, may have to register within their own states, as laws differ from state to state.

If your club in Virginia is currently in the process of filling out the registration forms for Soliciting for Donations, please refer them to this post on this website. The application form is a long, arduous form, and the person in the club charged with filling out the form will be happy to learn that they do not have to do it!

Each club should have a copy of the letter shown above in their files. If your Virginia Ruritan Club does not have a copy of the letter, you can click on the picture of the letter in this post and print it off for your club’s records.

Press Release Emailed To Local Newspapers in Rapidan District

newspaper boy (free clip art)

newspaper boy (free clip art)

From the desk of the Lt. Governor and Publicity Chairperson:

The following Press Release was emailed today to several local newspapers that serve the Rapidan District. The template for the press release was provided by Ruritan National at the 2014 Summer Leadership Conference.

If you notice the story being published, would you please be kind enough to notify us? We don’t get copies of all of the papers in the area.

Here is a copy of the press release:

Local Ruritan Leaders Attend National Conference

DUBLIN, Va. ~ Alexander MacDonald of Mineral VA, Linda Bradshaw of Jeffersonton VA, and Perry Marshman of Unionville VA attended the 2014 Ruritan National Summer Leadership Conference held in Dublin,VA at New River Community College June 19-20. While they were there, they learned about new programs to improve America’s communities and revitalize the organization. The conference was sponsored by the Ruritan National Office in Dublin, VA. as part of the organization’s ongoing training program for volunteer leaders. Alexander MacDonald is a member of the Holly Grove Ruritan Club and serves the Rapidan District as District Governor. Linda Bradshaw is a member of the Lignum Ruritan Club and serves the Rapidan District as District Lt. Governor. Perry Marshman is a member and President of the East Orange Ruritan Club and serves the Rockingham District as National Director.

Attendees included Ruritan District Governors, Lt. Governors and Area Governors from Districts and Areas across 25 states, as well as other District leaders along with a host of volunteer speakers and seminar leaders. At the conference, participants also met with national volunteer leaders and Ruritan staff members to discuss current issues and activities that affect Ruritan clubs and Ruritan members in their districts and areas. Some of the topics discussed included growth and development, leadership training, and legal issues.

Conference participants represented 28,000 Ruritan members in over 40 Ruritan Districts and Areas that reach from the tidewater area of Virginia to the corn belts of Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. Since 1928, Ruritan Clubs have been improving communities and building a better America through fellowship, goodwill and community service. Today there are more than 1,000 clubs in 25 states across the United States. The Ruritan National Office, the headquarters of Ruritan, has been located in Newbern since 1965. Contact Alexander MacDonald at 804-556-5233 or amacdonald8@msn.com for more information about Ruritan membership or upcoming Ruritan activities.

Veterans To Be Honored at the Ruritan National Convention in January 2015

The following is copied and pasted from the Facebook Page “I AM Ruritan.” It is being copied here to accommodate Ruritan members that do not use Facebook. It is our hope to use this medium to spread the word (about the announcement) so that other Ruritan members that are veterans will learn about this event, and ask your club secretary to go into MMS to ensure that your military status is correct in the MMS records.

Are you one of Ruritan’s many Veterans? Are you planning on coming to Greensboro to the 2015 Ruritan National Convention? Remember that our members’ military records pull directly from our Member Management System (MMS). Make sure your veteran status is up to date in the MMS so we can properly honor you in Greensboro. If you aren’t sure how to use the MMS – one of your club members or the national office staff will be happy to help you. There are two important items: whether you are active or inactive; and which branch of the military you served in.

Are you one of Ruritan's many Veterans? Are you planning on coming to Greensboro to the 2015 Ruritan National Convention? Remember that our members' military records pull directly from our Member Management System (MMS). Make sure your veteran status is up to date in the MMS so we can properly honor you in Greensboro. If you aren't sure how to use the MMS - one of your club members or the national office staff will be happy to help you. There are two important items: whether you are active or inactive; and which branch of the military you served in.
Note: if you are a member of the Rapidan District AND a veteran, if you are not already listed on our web page “Honoring our Veterans” we would love to include YOU on that page.  We want your name, the branch of the service you were in, the year you started, the year you ended, and which Ruritan Club in the Rapidan District you are in. We would also love to have a photograph of you to include in the the listing (preferably in uniform at the time you were in the service.) You can give us the required information by using this contact form below (if you have a photograph, let us know how to contact you so we can make arrangements to get a copy of the photograph from you):