It is always exciting when something good happens as a result of mentorship and collaboration! This past week, Council Chair Rick Pockett received notification that Multiple District 5 was awarded a public relations grant for 2014 in the amount of $20,000 to be distributed between the six districts and the multiple district to promote Lionism. Each district will receive approximately $2,200 to support its project, with the remainder awarded to the Multiple District to complete a social media campaign. The grant seeks to reach over one million people in Saskatchewan, North Dakota, and South Dakota through the public relations projects.
MD 5 applied for a public relations grant this year in order to confront a growing problem: declining membership across the region. The Council of Governors attributed this problem in part, to the lack of effective public relations activity to increase awareness and interest in Lions Clubs International. The grant includes six specific projects—one from each district—along with an overarching project at the Multiple District level to promote Lionism.
In the Saskatchewan districts, the information technology committee from 5SKN will purchase equipment and programs to create websites and develop PowerPoint displays, specifically targeting young adults; while in 5SKS, the public relations committee will purchase banners used for public events or events sponsored by local Lions Clubs to replace existing banners that have become worn and out-of-date.
In the North Dakota districts, the public relations committee from 5NE will purchase advertising and public relations materials to be used by the media to promote community awareness of Lions service; while in 5NW, the district will use the funds to create advertising and public relations about the refurbishing of the 4-H camp facility used by the general public and Lions throughout the district.
In the South Dakota districts, the funds will be used in 5SE to pay local radio stations and media outlets to develop information for use in paid and public broadcasts to promote Lions activities throughout the district; while the information gained from a pilot test in of ad campaign materials with local newspapers in 5SW will enable that district to develop a public relations campaign to use in local newspapers throughout the district
At the Multiple District level, the Long Range Planning Committee and the Public Relations Committee which I chair will consult with social media experts to develop the capacity to use Internet and video streaming to disseminate publicity to the general public using social media.
This successful grant application was the product of mentorship and collaboration. The mentorship resulted from knowledge of the grant application process and the development of successful grant writing skills for research projects at NDSU. Over the years, I have helped to successfully bring over a million dollars of federal grant support from the US Department of Education, the US Department of Homeland Security, and the US Department of Agriculture to NDSU to fund my research in intercultural communication and risk and crisis communication. The collaboration resulted as I worked with the District Governors and Vice District Governors while they developed their projects. We worked through several drafts of their plans to help make the projects fit more closely to the guidelines provided by LCI. Then, once the projects were finalized, I prepared a final draft that all involved reviewed and provided input. By using my grant writing skills and working alongside of the district leadership teams, we put together a proposal that was favorably reviewed and funded.
I have always thought of mentorship as a personal, ongoing relationship whereby a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide those with less experience or knowledge through communication, demonstration, and follow-through. This approach has guided my work with young people, students in my classes, members of the debate teams I coach, the campus Lions club that I advise, and the community organizations in which I am involved.
In the case of the public relations grants, my experience and knowledge of the grant writing process helped the district leadership teams; and the willingness of the district leadership teams to utilize my experience and skills to help craft a successful grant proposal resulted in a $20,000 win for the Multiple District! That’s how mentorship and collaboration pay off. Let’s celebrate our successful achievement together and use the public relations dollars to tell the public more about Lionism and why they should become members of the world’s largest service organizaiton!
–Lion Robert Littlefield