Adapt or Perish
While some garden clubs are prospering many are not. When public liability laws became an issue some years ago every
club jumped and took on appropriate insurance. The threat of being sued got everyone to pay attention and change course.
Otherwise much of what garden clubs do, has not changed, since they were formed, which in many cases were 50 or more years
ago. A raffle, door prizes, a cup of tea, a flower bench and maybe a newsletter and occasional speaker.
Let’s look at the newsletter. In 50 years newspapers, this means all newspapers, even your local one, have gone colour.
Those clubs with newsletters that are still without colour are letting the members down.
Does your club have a slide projector? Or have you moved on to a digital projector or digital TV? Many clubs have and
enjoy vastly improved presentations and plant pictures. Some clubs and conventions have banned slide projectors due to
their failings and poor quality. TV has gone in 50 years from black and white to colour and is still improving with high definition and 3D.
Some clubs can’t raise enough money to pay for tea and coffee, let alone keep the doors open and have a useful newsletter.
Money seems so tight when the idea is raised to increase fees to improve facilities. Yet these same people, who perhaps
complain about paying for $2 coffee at the door, will often have a morning latte at the café down the road for up to $4
a cup. Do they see better value in a café and what it offers? Perceptions of a garden club are that they aren’t worth it.
What does your club project? A worthwhile organisation? Well there is no doubt that there are more garden club members
spending a heap in coffee houses instead of preferring to do similar with us. What do the coffee houses offer that we
can learn from? They have changed immeasurably over the last 50 years – they have adapted well and the vibrant atmosphere
they offer can be emulated in clubs.
Four dollars for a really good coffee, maybe a cake could equal $8.00 per person per visit. For some people it is a
daily ritual. Try and ask for $8 at the door at a ‘once a month’ garden club meeting...
The most common answer to asking for more money is that members won't pay, then when asked they say they can’t afford it.
How could this be if the same people are visiting a coffee shop almost every day? Do they perceive they are not
getting value for their money at the garden club – this is where the 'circle' is complete. Colour newsletter,
vibrant programs, new equipment and a well -paced evening is something successful clubs are finding members are willing
to invest their money and time in.
This 'circle' also speeds up attracting more lively and active committee members. Almost all club committees complain
about lack of volunteers. A fascinating example exists where looking outside your circle of friends in the club, if your
committee is not computer savvy, not active with internet and email then your local library should be contacted for assistance.
They are often very eager to support local clubs. Extending on this idea of outside help, contact a local secondary school who may
be willing to embrace the club and bring it up to speed (student projects, design and implement digital website for your club). Every
year the same school could set a new project for your club – design and implement new club logo and motto etc. If your club
was linked every year with the same school and year level, this would go a long way to drawing on young people as future
members, or even their family and friends.
There are many other ways clubs can improve but there is absolutely no doubt that by doing things the 'old way', the
'safe way', the 'slow way' have no future – clubs must adapt or perish.
Author: Attila Kapitany