Thames Valley Network and South East Region

CONSTITUTIONS AND COMMITTEES FORUM

Benson, November 4th, 2015

 

NOTES FROM AFTERNOON DISCUSSSION SESSION:

 

1. How can we ensure and encourage the U3A ethos of participation in our membership, our activities and our planning?

 

·         Promote the Objects and Principles of the U3A

·         Get to know the background of new members

·         Use group leaders to channel information to members

·         Encourage members to contribute in smaller ways

·         Thank members publicly

·         Improve communication to members

·         Improve self-confidence of members, so that they feel able to contribute

·         Encourage members to value their life and experiences

·         Nurture, don’t dictate

·         Give each new member a welcome pack/contact list

·         Use a “buddy” system

·         Committees should be pro-active in informing members about ethos

·         Asking for help should be done face-to-face

·         In communicating with members, ensure that the language used is inclusive

·         Note all feedback from all members

·         Have a “potted history” of the U3A available at all meetings

·         Email new members after 12 months to get feedback on their experience

·         “Carrot, not stick”

·         When assigning jobs, start with smaller tasks

·         Encourage all members of each interest group to get involved

·         Ensure that new members are made welcome

·         Send a copy of the Objects and Principles to all new members

 

In order to find new committee members:
 

·         Get to know the membership and their talents; “talent spot”

·         Approach members personally

·         Make job descriptions available

·         Set up subcommittees so that potential committee members can see that they won’t be working alone

·         Incoming committee members to “shadow” outgoing members

·         Offer support/training to committee members

·         Use resources of local networks to exchange views/experiences and encourage

·         Ensure members understand that what they give they will get back

·         Keep a list of key volunteers

·         Show appreciation

·         New committee members could be given smaller tasks to start with, or not assigned a specific role immediately

·         Ensure that existing and potential committee members are aware of the Constitution and the Objects and Principles

·         Invite prospective committee members to observe meetings

 

2. What strategies can we put in place to encourage new members, and thereby keep fresh ideas and potential new volunteers, coming through the door?

 

·         Do not close lists to new members.  Let National Office know if your U3A is reaching capacity and seek their advice.

·         Use local media - newspapers, online media, radio stations, etc.

·         Have Open Days, Freshers’ Fairs, Showcase Days

·         Have Open Meetings which public can attend (minute guests policy for insurance purposes)

·         No waiting lists for groups - if group is full, give members the opportunity to start a new one

·         Use advertising opportunities

·         Have a stall at a market

·         Encourage members to spread the word to neighbours and bring them to a meeting (minute guests policy for insurance purposes)

·         Use car stickers, available from National Office

·         Talk up the U3A to everyone, including younger people who may pass on the message to older relatives

·         Distribute leaflets, available from National Office

·         Use social networks

·         Give leaflets to large companies for people retiring

·         Put leaflets in libraries, CABs, town halls

·         Attend agricultural shows

·         Meet and greet potential members at meetings

·         Spread information by word of mouth

 

3. How can we cope with “difficult” committee members who want to dominate, or those who want to do nothing?

 

·         Effective chairing

·         Chairman to talk to member(s) before meeting

·         Suggest roles to inactive members

·         Encourage teamwork

·         Be open

·         Consider joint committee action/behind the scenes negotiation

·         Consider a “cooling-off period”, or postponing a discussion until the next meeting

·         Inactive committee members could be given something small and achievable to build confidence

 

4. What key issues would we put on an annual planning calendar?

 

There was insufficient time for this issue to be generally discussed, but our group had agreed that it was  essential to plan well in advance for activities, so that the membership can be informed in good time.

 

There was a query about what constitutes a Quorum - this is one-third of the members of the committee.  For an AGM the figure varies and U3As should consult their own constitution

 

U3As were encouraged if possible to update their constitutions using the new model.  This and other useful documentation and advice is available on the U3A national website.