Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Annual General Meetings with Zing

Celebrate the past year and plan for the next – those are just two of the ways that you can transform your organization’s annual meeting from boring to outstanding.

FTH:K in Capetown, South Africa, is a young, funky theatre company integrating deaf and hearing performers. They view annual meetings as “excellent marketing opportunities to publicly celebrate the successes of the previous year.”

Here’s how they describe this year’s AGM on their blog:

“This year, our AGM was a kid’s party. Not because we behaved like children (although…) but because we were turning 5! So all FTH:K members hauled out their most kid-like clothes (from Snoopy, to Superman, to nappies, to tutus, to PJ’s – we had it all), Tina from Queen of Tarts made personalised cupcakes, Angela made Chico Clowns and racing cars out of Boudoir Biscuits, Tink made Jelly Oranges (although it seems that not all mums made these for their kid’s parties!) and we even had a game of Pass-the-Parcel – wrapped expertly by Simangele. It was a great evening, one in which we got to reflect on 2009 and all its successes and challenges.”

Multi-Purpose Fun
Many organizations combine their AGM with another, more entertaining activity in order to attract members. The Akuna Bay Cruising Club enjoyed a buffet lunch while they cruised the harbour in Sidney, Australia. (Talk about a captive audience!)

A friend of mine, who is president of a seniors’ association, combined their AGM with a volunteer appreciation event and a variety/burlesque show. She was able to keep the official meeting to 24 minutes, and everyone had a great time.

I came across a thought-provoking post from a member of the Hampshire Cricket Members’ Club. He was commenting on their AGM and how they try and make it relevant. He said:

“It was part of the Chairman’s address that goes to the nub of the problem for me: the part when he asked us to remember that we are members of a club and not just holders of season tickets. Technically, he is right; but is that why most people who commit to Hampshire for the season join? To be part of something, or just to watch high quality cricket? Do the bulk of the members care about who’s on their Committee, or what their Committee does?”

I think the same can be said of many volunteer organizations. We join for the activities – not the responsibilities. So the biggest challenge at an annual general meeting is not simply to keep it short and interesting but to increase the members’ sense of ownership and involvement. And that’s not an simple task. It’s so much easier to be a bystander than to play an active role in shaping your organization.

See Also: Annual Reports with Zing

1 comment:

Shelley said...

Although not an "annual general meeting" of members, at my workplace we recently had our annual executive team retreat. On the first afternoon we put up lengths of newsprint that covered one whole wall. 10 columns were made, representing each of the past 10 years. We were each given a felt marker and spent about an hour brainstorming and writing down all the things that have happened during this time -- the good, the bad and the ugly. And believe me, we've definitely had some bad and ugly times. But we've turned the corner and writing it all down made us realize that many of the really good things that are now happening in our organization are because of changes made to fix the bad things. If the bad things hadn't happened we may not have made those changes and the good things wouldn't have happened. It was an extremely positive exercise!