Special Events Coordinator
On a final note, we launched a bold promotional initiative this year by funding a part time Special Events Coordinator through membership donations. The idea was hatched during the job search for a part time office administrator, when one of the candidates brought the ideal skill set to the table.
Funding for the position was through a three pronged membership donation drive. It started with some of the Board of Directors reaching into their own pockets to the tune of $3000. The second phase of the fund-raising was a direct challenge issued by me as President to a number of members that had previously demonstrated a commitment to the promotion of the hobby in the past. The final phase was an appeal to the entire membership.
Based on the early success of the fund-raising, Naomi Armstrong was offered a 6 month contract and the special events coordinator’s position became a reality.
In her short time in the position, Naomi was able to complete some outstanding work. A new youth initiatives committee was created with membership right across Canada. This committee is currently developing programs by working with groups such as 4H, Junior Farmers, Scouts Canada and Girl Guides. It is also revitalizing the Help a Beginner program and researching promotional opportunities with other community groups. Naomi was the chair of this committee, pulled the membership together and hosted two teleconferences, as well as contacting numerous other potential partners.
Other activities Naomi became involved with included:
- An outstanding blog from a beginner’s perspective;
- Established liaison with the Small Flock Poultry Industry Council;
- Developed outreach initiatives to attract former members;
- Developed a new member incentive package;
- Researched sources for government funding;
- Assembled a youth promotions package;
- Created a glossary of terms for new members;
- Created a report on membership retention and recruitment incentives;
- Established a youth initiatives discussion area and the CU website;
- Contacted community newspapers resulting in several positive articles on racing pigeons;
- Established liaison with the Royal Winter Fair;
- Developed promotional tools to be used at the International Plowing Match;
- Explored various uses of YouTube;
- Developed promotions material for the Calgary Stampede;
- Promoted live bird releases at local events; and
- Developed a promotional CD.
Unfortunately, the leader and general fund-raising initiatives were unsuccessful generating only a total of $3000 from 32 donors and Naomi’s contract had to be terminated after 22 weeks. As promised, the position was funded by the donations with Naomi’s total wages and expenses totalling $6100 and total donations just over $6100. This amount included a laptop computer, which remains in the general inventory of the CU.
Naomi made a significant contribution in just 22 weeks and many of the materials and programs she created will continue to pay dividends. Her contributions also opened the dialog on the unlimited possibilities that employing a permanent promotions staff member could lead to. An example of one of these possibilities relates to the feedback that we received following a very successful promotions booth at the International Plowing Match:
The CU booth was visited by:
- several school teachers that indicated a keen interest in adding topics relating to pigeon racing to their classroom curriculum, including an open invitation for classroom speakers;
- several previous flyers that indicated a willingness to return to the hobby with a little encouragement;
- several recent immigrants that had raced in their homeland and were not aware of the hobby in Canada;
- Several media outlets looking for follow-up stories; and
- A request for a presentation to a senior’s home.
These are all areas that a permanent promotions person could follow-up on that would have an extremely high probability of recruiting new members and no cost education of large segments of the population and all from just one booth at just one event.
I am sure that the various volunteers that assisted at the IPM will attest to the big effort required to hold a successful promotional activity. We were lucky to have Steve Walsh to spearhead this effort and recruit the needed volunteers. What is needed is a sustained effort in this regard. Something a permanent promotions staff member could provide.
It is obvious that the membership fund-raising route is not a viable method of funding such a position. We will be researching government grants and other options in the coming months. We may have solutions to offer the membership in the coming year.