Communicating with Private Club Members from the “Executive Suite”
We’ve both been Presidents Treasurers and long-term board members of our respective Clubs. If we learned anything, it’s the value of direct and regular communication with the members. The greatest benefit is credibility. If members feel they are “in the know” about the finances of the Club and initiatives of the Board, they are much more likely to be supportive.
The tricky part is determining what’s enough and what’s too much. We found that a quarterly written update from the Treasurer on the finances of Club worked well. It doesn’t have to be long, maybe just a page or two describing departmental performance against budget, expectations for full year performance and discussion of major variances is sufficient on operations. An update on Capital Fund activity is also important. Bring the numbers to life with words. Recognize that most members are much more comfortable with the narrative than the figures.
A periodic update from the President’s desk is an important tool. Address progress of the Club against Plan, update on progress on Capital Projects and other undertakings such as the preparation of a Strategic and/or Master Plan. There are always victories to declare, members to celebrate and glitches to address. If there’s rampant speculation on a topic that requires confidentiality, let the members know that as well. Rather than letting the pub chatter control the dialogue, give the membership the facts. Invite feedback. If logistics allow, hold some open member meetings and exchange comments freely. Transparency builds credibility. Communication is a two-way street.
It’s unfortunate that the Board is often referred to as “they” as in “they did this” or “they did that”. It is not a we/they situation. Education through communication is the key to uniting the entire team for the good of the Club.
Toward that end, we recommend presenting a Long-Term Capital Plan to the membership as part of the Annual Meeting or in a Special Meeting. Private Club capital needs are nearly insatiable and a carefully crafted plan is essential to funding the preservation, modernization and reinvention requirements of your Club for the next 5-10 years in an efficient manner. We’ve had success developing Long Term Capital Plans and would be happy to assist you in developing and communicating one to your membership.
Club Board Professionals is a strategic financial consulting and training firm. The Principals, Dave Duval and Joe Abely, assist clubs achieve excellence in three areas: governance, financial sustainability and membership satisfaction. Contact us for a complimentary initial assessment of your club.
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