DG’s October report

Dear Fellow Lions, Lionesses, Leos and Partners.

Since I wrote  last  month’s  article,  Patsy  and  I  have  enjoyed fellowship with Lions from several Clubs on the Pickering to Whitby North York Moors Railway trip, ably organised by PCC Bryan Riley, with Zones B and I and official visits to Garforth, Bridlington, Bradford and Boroughbridge.

My other engagements included:

  • A meeting  with JDRF, a US Charity, with a substantial UK presence, involved in Diabetes research. I have passed details to Lion Margaret Riley as Global Action Team, Service District Chair.
  • Morley’s Motown concert.
  • Global Action Team Membership meeting.
  • The EGM for the new District N at Scotch Corner
  • A meeting,  along  with  PCC  Viresh  Paul, with the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners to discuss speciality Clubs.
  • A Convention Committee meeting.

I also attended Jane Goforth’s funeral, which was a fitting tribute and well attended by Lions from across the District.

By the end of the month, I will have also attended Denby Dale’s Charter, Cabinet and a Zone C meeting.

The most significant event of the past month was the EGM, which was chaired in a very professional manner  by  PCC  Michael  Philips,  to  whom  I  am  grateful.  With  the  election  of  PDG  Andrew Kerr Sutherland as District Governor and District Secretary Michelle Nicholson as 2nd Vice District Governor – with the position of 1st Vice District Governor to be decided at the first Cabinet meeting of 105N in 2019/20 – hopefully we can now all start looking forward rather than back.

The new DG Team, which will be fully supported by DG Dave Wilson of NE and I, already have plans in place for the new District.  The bottom line for the Club Lion is that there will be no material change.  Naturally, the Clubs won’t change and DGE Andrew has confirmed that there will be no changes to the Zones.  Business as usual, then.

The greatest debate was over the proposed Budget for 105N and the District dues, which have been set at £8.50 per member for 2019/20 and I want to give this some context.  It has been agreed that £5 per member will be carried forward as a reserve fund for the new District N, with the balance of the existing reserves returned to the Clubs on a pro rata basis at the end of 2018/19.  This will help to defray some of the £1.50 per Member increase.

I contributed to the debate and I think it may be helpful to share with you an extract from my report to Cabinet, which I had written prior to the EGM.I have had representations made to me about the cost of joining and staying a Lion, with which I have considerable sympathy.  Whilst I am not retired, and may never indulge, most of my Clients are retired and I know how difficult it would be for them to find an additional £50 – £100. Whilst it is a long time  ago  now,  I  remember  struggling  to  make  ends  meet  when  the  children  were  young, so I also recognise the dilemma facing many younger Lions.

Those of us charged with representing you at national and international level have a duty to watch the pennies and curb the excesses of those who feel “high office” entitles them to some “perks”.  As I have already reported, I am not a lone voice in this regard, with the Council of Governors ordering a root and branch review of the MD expenditure at the International Convention.  Our own PDG Nigel Ware was involved in a working party in 2015, which recommended a raft of cost-saving measures to the Council of Governors and I am ensuring that is still a current topic of discussion.

The bottom line is, however, if we are going to honour our commitment to the Public that every penny raised goes to the good cause, our legitimate administration costs must be paid somehow.  Certainly, Clubs look to District for help with  projects  and, in  turn,  Districts  look  to  MD  for  help  and  that  often   involves  expenditure. It is human nature, I suppose, to want a Scandinavian welfare system and a US tax system, but the reality is that it is an impossibility.

Our present methods of recruiting new members are generally failing and we need to employ some lateral thinking in this regard to appeal to a new generation of Volunteers.  Equally, I believe we need to apply some lateral thinking to the question of dues; it isn’t just a question of drawing-up a budget, dividing that between the Members and saying that’s your share.  There are other things we can do.

In no order of priority, my thoughts are:

  • Fundraising. Whilst  I  am  uncomfortable  with  any  fundraising  from  the  Public  for  administration  purposes, because  it  blurs  the  “not a penny”  message,  events  for  Members,  their  Family  and  Friends  exclusively for administration purposes are perfectly in order.  Race Nights, Beetle Drives, Safari Suppers, etc. are simple to  organize.
  • Bonus Ball Competitions. Clubs can run a Bonus Ball competition in conjunction with their Club venue and pay out half the proceeds in a weekly prize and keep the rest for admin.
  • 500 Club. We could run a District-wide 500 Club distributing, say, half the proceeds as monthly, quarterly, half yearly and annual prizes, with the balance going to District admin.  I’m not sure whether it’s worth starting this now or having it ready to go for 105N next July.
  • Utility Warehouse. Utility Warehouse is an award-winning supplier of home phone, broadband, mobile, gas and electricity services.  They are a Which? recommended provider (several times over).  Customers who take all the services have benefitted from some substantial savings compared to other suppliers.  The company runs a “Community  Fundraiser”  service,  whereby  anyone  buying  services  from  them  generates a 5% commission payable to Lions every month that the person remains a customer.  There’s no selling involved, we just get a dedicated website and telephone line that our members (and their family and friends) use to get a quote.  If they like what they hear, they sign-up.

I am implementing the Utility Warehouse scheme, with any commission going to the District admin account with a view to reducing member’s District dues, and I’ll publish full details to all Members soon”.

Finally, I want to emphasise how important it is to me personally, that every Club is represented at the forthcoming Membership Day.  I guarantee that Clubs will have tools and techniques that they will take away with them which will help them recruit new members.

When I set-out on this journey at the 2016 Convention, my election address referred to my three key objectives – membership, membership and membership – so the Membership Day is a distillation of all my thinking in this vital area.

Yours in Lionism

Clive Barwell
District Governor 105C