Our Virtual Community Highlights recognize Lions who are using digital tools to connect and serve. The City of Adelaide Lions Club is located in Adelaide, South Australia, and is a diverse, inclusive and progressive club. Members are men and women with ages ranging from their early 20s to mid 90s from many different cultures and backgrounds.
Q. What digital tools do you use to connect your club and/or your community? How do you use them? (This can range from teleconferencing tools to social media to messaging apps.)
A. We designed and developed a new website many years ago. We use this to promote our projects and entice people to join our club. It tells the story of who we are and what we do, with contact information clearly displayed. We also have a separate website for one of our main projects, Hear Me Roar! We receive a lot of enquiries (phone and email) via our website regarding membership and our projects.
We are very active on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and have gained a decent following across all three. We are continuously working on building this by sharing stories about the people and organizations we support, asking for donations and deliveries, posting calls for help, and recruiting more members.
On Facebook, we live stream our Sunday morning program, Lions Get Active! for diabetes awareness and general wellbeing. These videos are also pushed to our YouTube channel. We do short videos to promote what we are doing, for example, videos by the president and vice president of our Cubs Club – The Little Roarers!
On email, we utilize MailChimp for our secretary mailouts, meeting notices, etc. This helps us monitor and track emails.
During COVID-19, we started using Zoom for meetings. We had our monthly dinner meeting on Zoom and invited guest speakers along to present. This worked well. We also plan on using Zoom for our business meetings moving forward to aid those who wouldn’t normally be able to attend. This method proved to increase numbers at these meetings.
Q. What specific benefits have you seen from using these digital tools? What benefits have you experienced from hosting virtual meetings? Give us some examples.
A. We’ve seen a lot of benefits from using these tools.
We have a higher engagement with community members and organizations (they know our club exists, what we offer/do, and how we can support them), in addition to more inquiries about events, donations and membership.
In terms of Zoom, it has allowed us to stay better connected. We can see one another when talking rather than just text messages and phone calls. It has allowed members to interact with one another as a group and create some form of normalcy.
We’ve also had some of our members who cannot usually physically attend our meetings join us on Zoom. We are looking at incorporating Zoom into our face-to-face meetings to try and include some of these members who can’t attend, and hope to assist those who don’t have the technology to get on board, too.
Q. How have you been using digital tools to continue to meet and serve during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A. Zoom has also been used for intergenerational meetings with our Cubs Club members (5- to 12-year-olds) who, on a fortnightly basis, have been chatting with residents at a local aged care facility. These meetings have been facilitated by Lions and a coordinator at the facility, and they have shared stories about travel, and discussed history, music and movies. This will be an ongoing project as it has proven to be very successful.
At Easter, the Lions Club of Melbourne Next Gen invited some of our Cubs Club members to join their Virtual Easter Egg Hunt. This involved everyone using Google Hangouts to join in. There were different hosts who took it in turns at their homes to “host” meetings. At one house, for example, it was “find the eggs on the shelf” – they would do a “fly by” with the video across the shelves, zoom in and out, then each person would take a guess as to where they thought an egg was from the comfort of their own homes. Another host had hidden eggs in their garden, while another had made cards and you had to pick a card number to find out how many points were inside. The winners who scored the most points across the virtual egg hunt got a prize posted in the mail. A great way to engage, and include everyone when a physical group activity wasn’t an option.
Q. How did you get started using these tools? How do you train other members?
A. With Zoom, we saw that District had started using it with the DGE of the day. During COVID-19, we brought it to the club to trial and it worked very well. Great to record meetings and then share them privately online for members who couldn’t attend.
Instructions were sent out with the meeting invitations for those who weren’t familiar with how to use it. We also had members on standby (via phone) for anyone needing assistance.
Q. What has been your biggest challenge when using digital tools for your club? Have you been able to overcome this challenge, and if so, how?
A. The biggest challenge has been to get members on board with meeting virtually. Some members, generally our older members, prefer to not meet at all if it can’t be in person. They’re not interested in sitting in front of a computer. Others are not set up with devices to attend online. This is always going to be the case with some people, but we have done our best to accommodate as many members as possible.
Q. What are the three most useful tips for getting started with virtual meetings that you’d like to share with Lions and Leos?
- Understand that virtual meetings are not for everyone and that expectations need to be set for what you hope to achieve by hosting this type of meeting.
- Make sure that instructions are provided for members, and that help is available to try and get them connected. Many will give up if it doesn’t work the first few times and they don’t have any help. It’s a great idea to also have a test run before an actual meeting to ensure people can connect and understand how to use it.
- Have fun. Think outside the square and organize a game of some sort or some humor (maybe everyone can wear a hat or bring a pet). There is business that needs to be conducted and specific things that you need to accomplish as you would in a face-to-face meeting, but it’s just not the same, so have some fun with it too.
Jacqui MacKenzie is the social media and community manager for Lions Clubs International.