Clubs excel at Community Engagement, need to work on purpose and threats

It’s clear from the National Conference that community engagement is already a strength for many clubs. More than a strong point, it’s being leveraged as a competitive advantage.

A driving motive for community engagement should be the idea of social licence to operate. That’s the informal “license” granted to an organisation by various stakeholders who may be affected by the organisation’s activities.

As argued in my presentation to the conference, community engagement is a necessity if you are to maintain your club’s social licence to operate. And to engage your community most effectively, it should be done by conveying your club’s core purpose. Whether your strength is in veterans’ welfare, a central hub for community groups, a cherished asset for older community members or all of these things. Whatever your core purpose, know it, sharpen it and live by it.

It’s also important that you stay on top of your threats and challenges, don’t let them smoulder.

The banking royal commission has provided many useful lessons to the business community and recently an approach has emerged to stay on top of those threats.

An initiative being proposed for big banks is the idea of a ‘social risk officer’. It’s proposed they report directly into the board and provide an objective assessment of the organisation’s relationships with key social groups and the threats therein. It’s an admission, on the back of hard earned lessons, that the quality of the relationships a bank has with key social groups is just as important as its financial condition.

This proposal is seen as much more than a tree hugging exercise but a pathway to greater and more sustainable profits.

So how can your club apply this lesson to your world?

While paying for a dedicated social risk officer is hardly sustainable for most in the club industry, it’s not beyond the realms to include the task within someone’s existing role. They may be your marketing manager or even your CEO – yes it’s that important. Equally, relationships with key social groups can be a reported agenda item in both your board and executive meetings, keeping it front of mind.

Remember, if you’re struggling with your club’s community engagement strategy, or your relationships with some key social groups are posing real risk to your club’s future, Wilkinson Butler is only a phone call away.

Andrew Butler
Managing Director

Office: +61 2 8069 9677 | Mobile: +61 423 296 903

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