From the desk of the 2016 Publicity Chairperson:
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In this day and age, more businesses are feeling the call of corporate leadership, and are looking for ways to support the local community. One way they can do that is by joining local community service organizations, such as the Ruritan Club.
Having a business member helps increase public awareness of a club’s existence. When a business member receives the membership plaque or window cling from the club, the business might display the plaque on their wall, window, or door, in a public space.
Customers and/or employees may see that wall plaque or window cling and through that sighting become aware for the first time that the Ruritan Club exists (they may have never heard of us!) This may spark a conversation between the customer/employee and the person within the company that did the paperwork for the application. Maybe even result in a few new members joining the club! This relates to the first part of our slogan “Fellowship, Goodwill and Community Service.”
Often businesses have newsletters that they distribute among their customers/employees. They like to include stories in their newsletters about how they are “giving back” to the community by joining local community service clubs. If they join our club, chances are that they will publish a story about it in their newsletter. If they have a website and/or facebook page, they will likely include a mention about their membership with our club on that media as well. After all, those stories make their companies look like good corporate citizens. And, those stories will help to publicize our club at the same time.
Businesses that are members of our club have already indicated (by the very act of joining) an interest in supporting our causes. Chances are good that they are going to be receptive to the idea of donating gift cards, money, or services to our club from time to time when they are approached in the right way. That relates to “Community Service.”
A business owner may also decide later on in the relationship with the club to become an active member on a personal level, once he/she has become more familiar with all of the good deeds that our club does. They may consider encouraging their employees/families to join the club as well. More “Fellowship.”
A business member is a good resource for networking. Networking is a great thing! If our club has a need, and reaches out to the business members, asking for advice or referrals, the business member may be willing to help introduce us to people and companies that can help us accomplish our goals. The business member may not be able to help us directly, but often can help us get in touch with someone else who can help us, and with a little bit of social finesse, may get us discounts or free labor. This directly relates to “Goodwill.”
Some business members might help us with free publicity, letting us put our flyers in their windows. Others might donate gift cards or merchandise for us to use as door prizes, raffle prizes, or auction prizes. Some of them might buy ads in future fund-raising calendars in future years, or buy an ad in the District Convention Program. Some may donate ammo for a Turkey Shoots, buy a vendor table at a yard sale, or donate food for the concession stand to sell at one of our events. Some may provide free Internet installation and monthly service to the building we use as our club house. Still others may create and maintain our club’s website for free. Others may provide us with office supplies, or free printing services. Some businesses might even donate money to our scholarship fund-raising! All of this relates to “Goodwill and Community Service.”
Having a business member will increase our membership numbers, making us look good for National. That’s always a good thing! A business membership in the Ruritan Club is a form of Associate Membership. Clubs get rebates from National on the dues that an Associate pays to Ruritan! A business member will not interfere with the internal workings of the club, as they have no voting rights, and cannot serve on the board of directors. However, they may attend our meetings and be part of our “Fellowship” any time they wish.
Listing our business members on our website, our Facebook page, our membership promotional materials, (which costs us next to nothing) makes our club look good in the public eye. Acknowledging their membership and thanking them for their association with us, will help them to feel appreciated, and will encourage their continued membership and sponsorship of our events. This promotes “Goodwill.”
Putting all of that information on our promotional materials helps potential members to see us as a worthwhile club. After all, if these businesses have joined our club, then we must be a good club, right? This will encourage potential members (both business and personal) to join us, as we have the endorsements of these respected business members of our community. More “Fellowship” ensues.
There really is no down-side to having business members in our club. The more business members our club has, the better. More money goes to National Ruritan to help with all of the good work Ruritan does, and the local endorsement we get from the business members is priceless.
A business membership in a community service club such as our Ruritan Club is a win-win situation for everyone. Actively recruiting business members will help the club to grow and thrive, and supports our slogan “Fellowship, Goodwill, and Community Service” in every way possible.
This is a revision of an article that was originally on the unofficial Jefferson Ruritans website. The original (and this revision) was written by Linda Bradshaw, who has consented to this revision and reprint.