City Club of Eugene
Board of Directors
January 7, 2021
Call to Order at 5:30 pm via zoom.
Board Members in attendance:
Scott Coltrane – President
Kitty Piercy – President elect,
Skip Coburn – Treasurer,
J. Ingrid Kessler – Secretary,
Members: Joshua Burstein, Katherine Schacht, Marilyn Milne, Ralph Pledger, Laural O’Rourke
- Approve Minutes — A motion was made made and seconded, passed unanimously.
- Approve Agenda — The agenda was approved.
- President’s Report (Scott) – The City Club office was successfully moved to our new Pearl Street location. As it turns out, we have a bit more competition for the conference room than expected. At the moment with meeting restrictions in place, this is not really a complicating issue. Our new PTO paradigm is working well for Silver, who already used some of that time during the last calendar year. Scott changed the text for our Friday forum introductions. They are now shorter and drive people to our website for speaker biographies and additional information. Our sponsors are still mentioned at the beginning of our programs, but now their mission statements are at the end which further shortens the introduction and seems to be working very well.
- Executive Director’s Report (Scott ) – Program attendance via facebook is down but the number of audience members for each program grows over time so those numbers continue to change. Another confounding element in tabulating our audience is that we are not counting views on you tube at this time. Question: Are members getting email alerts about upcoming programs? Answer: Yes, there are weekly updates announcing upcoming programs. However, the email list needs updating. Some members, including some board members, are not receiving these weekly e-mails. There was discussion about making sure all club members are getting our e-mails: Keeping the email list updated could be a function of a more successful CRM (Client Relationship Management) platform than what we are currently experiencing. In the meantime, we need to check with members that we have updated emails for them. Also some people may opt out. A final concern is that e-mails may be going to member’s junk folder. Idea: It would also be good to have a monthly City Club update so that members feel better connected to the club. A newsletter, which has been provided in the past, is a great idea but may be too long. For monthly announcements, we could even have a standard template. Each month the sender would just fill in the template notifying members what the upcoming programs of the month are. It was noticed that we continue to have a slow erosion of membership during this difficult time of separation. Solutions to bolster membership include some members transferring to a volunteer membership to make membership more affordable. We need to ensure that our members feel wanted and needed. Their membership is truly important to us and we need to make sure to convey that it matters. Some people may regard membership as an entertainment expenditure which is difficult when so much online content is free. It is very difficult to replace the in person social contact. We are doing well with sponsorships.
- Treasurer’s Report (Skip)– There was a typographical error in the material presented to us in the board packet. The reports presented are through 11/30/2020. All other numbers in the report are correct. The search for a CRM continues with two proposals having been received. There is a third opportunity which may be promising. While making a change would cost money and the conversion would be extra work, the benefits may very well outweigh these drawbacks. Skip as our Treasurer recently sent a link to the committee members to begin to investigate the third opportunity after which further discussion will ensue. Question: How does our cash on hand compare to the previous year? Answer: While we didn’t have the exact number in front of us during the meeting, it is thought to be likely a bit higher this year. Plus, in current receivables, we have $5000 expected from the University of Oregon, $5000 from Lane Community College, and the City of Eugene is likely to give us $2500. We were in a relatively strong position at the end of the summer campaign and we may be up to that amount soon again. One-time expenses such as website design have been carefully planned, so even with some unique expenses, we are A-OK. We have about 6 months of operating expenses in the bank.
- Old Business
- New Format for City Club Forum Questions/Interaction — We had our first online interactive session this past week where members of the board attended the taping and were able to ask questions of our speakers. Success on several fronts! The tapes came out well. There was lots of participation, so much so that we didn’t get through the list of questions. Next time those who didn’t get to ask their questions will be given a preference in line. Question: Could we have the Q&A go on a bit longer? We could then edit for KLCC but also have a longer format via Facebook. It was noted that when we meet in person, meetings are indeed a bit longer than an hour. Also, even after the speaker portion is concluded, we could allow a little bit of hangout time afterwards that isn’t recorded. A reminder that we received program committee minutes to review in our board packet. We have some great housing programs coming up. Scott will continue to send us those committee meeting minutes to keep the board informed.
- Media Committee Update (Marilyn) — Written information was sent to us prior to the meeting. The website is shaping up with lots of content uploaded at the end of last month. We are almost ready to have it go live. This is now likely to happen next week. The new website has some software that is different from our previous website, so we may have some challenges ahead but our developer has offered ongoing support to a reasonable degree. Podcast update: our initial round of episodes included 13 podcasts. We have a great sound engineer to help us produce these which comes at a modest cost. We reviewed the budget and now may look to approve 8 more podcasts. After discussion, the idea to approve 16 rather than 8 through the rest of our fiscal year surfaced. 16 allows us to broadcast some programs from previous times which lend themselves well to this format. In fact, some of our previous programs on “evergreen” topics are proving to be among the most popular. A motion was made to allocate funds to approve 16 news podcasts. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.
- Membership Committee Update (Ralph) – The committee has had no meeting since our last Board meeting, but the next meeting is scheduled next week (before our next Board meeting) and will be monthly thereafter. The committee has been discussing the decrease in membership during these times. Now, every person who doesn’t renew gets a personal email, and if they still don’t renew they get a phone call from a committee member. These are personal contacts which are of value. The committee is now considering recommending to the board that we have a reduced membership fee during this difficult time when we are unable to meet in person. Question: If we are indeed supplying less value, since we can’t meet in person, should we ask less in dues? Especially now, but also into the future, we need to be keenly aware of whether or not our dues are affordable so that we don’t leave people out. An important thought: anything that is membership-based usually leaves a lot of people out. We should consider who is missing and who needs to be encouraged to participate. Right now our “regular” fee is perceived as high and even exclusionary. Idea: We could do a fundraiser to subsidize membership fees. Question: What are we hoping to achieve by lowering price of membership? Answers: Overall the goal is to retain members and grow membership to be inclusive. Along those lines, we are continuing to examine our rate structure in general. Idea: We could use a temporary, and very affordable, “maintenance fee” during this time of separation and as we transition to our new fee structure. In considering a new fee structure, we could consider a greatly reduced fee for people who qualify for OHP, for example. Or we could consider a tiered approach. For example, some groups have a staggered membership, such as three levels, and each person decides what they will pay. After we decide our new membership structure, we will engage in a membership drive. As we explore a temporary lower rate, our ongoing expenses are a consideration. They continue to be steady, with online expenses now replacing previous, in-person meeting expenses. Directors who have a longer tenure with the Club noted that membership is strong for us comparing to historical numbers. Also, we need to make sure of the trend and not react too quickly. This is an important topic that needs significant consideration. A Director commented that they felt a new, lower rate structure would be necessary if we offer a discounted rate now. Otherwise, returning to a rate that is perceived as quite high may become an obstacle for ongoing membership. In additional considerations, a new membership structure that encourages a diverse membership may resonate with our donors. Their donations may be known to allow us to be particularly inclusive. This section of our meeting ended with a reminder that we need to make sure that folks know that we are continuing to be very successful. This restructure is purposeful and in the spirit of constant improvement. We are already providing very good value. Ralph will continue this discussion in committee.
- Monumental projects (Scott) – – In advance of our meeting, a memo was sent to us by Mary Leighton delineating many of the details of this project. We have been asked for a financial commitment. Mary has already done a great job reaching out to other community members for their support. he board expressed significant enthusiasm. This is a great addition to City Club activities. A motion was made and seconded to grant 500 dollars to this effort, with the hope that other community members will join us in a financial capacity. Additionally, we noted that we could revisit the idea of using additional City Club funds in the future if necessary. The motion passed unanimously.
- New Business
- Email Newsletter in January (Scott)– It may be that previous newsletters were too long. Now we would like to make some high-level announcements to our membership about our activities in a new, revamped format. Then we may go to an even shorter format for monthly announcements. A motion was made and seconded to pursue this course of action. It passed unanimously.
Announcements – (all) There was a special shout out to Marilyn and the media committee on their excellent work. Laural is working with evacuees from the wildfires up the McKenzie. This is a long-term recovery group that is looking for support. Please reach out to Laural with ideas and connections.
- Summary of Actions and Plans (Scott) –
- Scott to work with Silver on our membership email list
- Ralph will continue to work with the membership committee on membership structure
- Marilyn will launch our website.
- Scott will communicate with Mary about the monumental project.
- Skip – new action – Should we post a message about defending the values of democracy and a commitment to civil discourse in light of recent events? Should we draft a statement and put it on the website? The board showed interest in this idea. Skip will gather us via email.
Adjournment (Scott) – Adjourned at 6:45 pm.