Communication – How Effective is it at Your Club?

Private club communications have no standard. What is communicated, how frequently and in what form are different from one club to the next. Most clubs have periodic newsletters that contain a schedule of upcoming events, results of past club events and maybe some information about new members or those that have passed away. Sometimes, these newsletters will contain updates about club projects and advise the membership on their progress. While it’s typical to have monthly communications, some clubs have more, with individual club departments using email and social media to advise the membership of a variety of club news and events.

Some clubs have extensive websites with member portals, accessible only by the membership. Some are more limited.

How effective is the communication at your club? Is there enough communication? Is there too much? Sometimes, members are sent frequent numerous emails about specific issues. Other times, emails are long, less frequent and address any and every issue the writer can think of and take a long time to read. Some clubs offer members the option of only receiving emails about those topics or activities in which they have an interest. Is there a happy and effective medium?

Those who communicate with members on behalf of the club all have different styles. I’ve observed many club communications that “sugar-coat” the current status of the club (whether successful or not) to make it seem like everything is great, the board and staff are all doing a great job and the club is the best thing that ever happened to them. Rarely have I seen emails or web posts describing club challenges. Few clubs publish minutes of the Board meetings and much of the club business is done without communication with the membership.

While certainly reasonable that certain confidences be maintained to protect privacy, there are often issues unpublished with respect to capital expenditures, vendor selection and board member votes on specific topics of great interest to members. Many club boards have limited accountability and though members often complain, most simply want to enjoy their club activities and not be involved. This apathy on the part of membership, combined with the perpetuation of the “same old crowd” on the board for extended periods and their resulting autonomy often impacts what’s communicated and what’s not.

Like the rest of society, poor communication is often the cause for misunderstandings, conflict and the resulting problems. I see this as a big problem at many clubs. Whether too much or too little, it’s not the quantity of communication that counts it’s the quality.