Community meeting notes – 27 May 2023
Martin welcomed everyone to the meeting, and opened the meeting after leading the Refuge and Bodhicitta prayer.
Volunteering made easier
There was an initial discussion about background issues.
- Everything done at TBS depends on volunteers (not everyone is aware of this)
- People coming for first time may not be aware that they can volunteer.
- Information on website about volunteering is limited (currently PDF form about teams that user needs to print out – bit clunky and uninformative)
- The Community Support Team (CST) along with Publicity has been working on the idea of a “volunteer hub” on the website. Over time it could be developed to provide better information about volunteering, easier methods for doing so and perhaps more real time information about current volunteering needs/opportunities.
- Better website functionality will not itself make a difference. But it can help reinforce the importance of volunteers to the centre and make it easier to volunteer.
- This is important because many volunteer organisations including TBS have been affected by COVID. There was discussion about a recent Conversation article on this subject. Anecdotally we also know that other centres and organisations have indicated they have less volunteer support than previously. Partly a result of COVID, people have changed what they want to do, plus effects of inflation/cost of living means people are needing to take up second jobs
- Visiting teachers to the TBS have commented that volunteering to support a centre is very positive activity from a Dharma perspective, as centres are a focus of Dharma practice generally. However, care needs to be taken with such messages when they are coming from regular Melbourne centre people as opposed to visiting teachers, as it could be perceived as self-serving.
There was a broad discussion and a range of suggestions about how we could strengthen awareness of the importance of volunteering and of specific volunteering opportunities:
- We could include a one liner about volunteering opportunities in the footer of some regular TBS emails, and link to a (re-developed) volunteering page on website (ie the volunteer hub).
- Consider a semi regular campaign with a focus on TBS volunteering -e g once or twice a year.
- Communications about projects and/or other volunteering opportunities should also emphasise the value of being part of a community experience “eg come and join us in doing….”
- Make sure people understand they can volunteer for a specific job/task/project that appeals to them without any expectation that they should have any ongoing involvement – eg as part of a team – if that’s not what they’re looking for.
The website- – volunteer hub – and form
- Re-develop the volunteer page on the website. Eg put volunteer stories on website / possible slide show of range of opportunities / accessible for people to see. Include quotes & photos and emphasise the community experience on the volunteer web page.
- Need to rework/build a new volunteering form and place it on the website/volunteer hub. The CST is already doing some of this work.
- The form could allow for a more personalised response – ie prospective volunteers could indicate the types of activity etc that interest them. Ideally the form would be open-ended, so we don’t unintentionally limit the types of skills or activities that people might like to be involved in.
Supporting new volunteers
- Communicating with person who has submitted form to follow up, let them know about range of current volunteer activities.
- For new volunteers it’s important to make sure they are supported and have access to any information or tools they need to have an enjoyable experience. New volunteers should have a buddy.
Other ways of promoting awareness of volunteering
- After classes and at the end of retreats, a TBS rep – not the class or retreat leader – could mention about volunteering around the centre.
- Posters around property asking for volunteers / simple, enticing & fun / flyers at the door / festival.
- Consider a volunteer open day (perhaps on the same day as a Garden Open Day) that includes information re gardening, working bee, admin, enjoyment shop, anything / all teams have stands / talk about what is involved etc.
- A garden team member suggested that potential garden volunteers might not be able to come on Saturdays. Perhaps there could be opportunities for people who would like to, to drop by for gardening during the week.
- Hold sangha working bees particularly project based eg redecorating a room. Perhaps different projects at different times of year / specific / achievable tasks that can be done collaboratively.
- Perhaps have a teams planning day to help identify the types of volunteers/volunteer opportunities and needs for the next calendar year
- Seek job search-type internet pages for volunteers and on them post volunteering opportunities at TBS/ perhaps focus on retirees and notion that may give them a sense of community.
- Ensure we acknowledge valuable volunteer activities that might currently fly under the radar (eg–finance committee).
These ideas will be passed back to relevant teams for consideration.
There was initial discussion about the background issues:
- There is a new communications strategy team which includes some members from the digital and technology team and the former publicity team.
- The team has also been joined by a volunteer who is an experienced social researcher. His skills will help the new team focus on ways to optimise TBS communications so that they reach a wider variety of age groups and interests
- Core of communications is now digital advertising and Facebook posts (for retreats, good response) and is cost effective.
There was a broad discussion about strategic communications opportunities:
Use of platforms and technologies
- Post Facebook reels / small videos
- Use of different digital platforms for different demographic/generational groups eg Instagram or Snap Chat, You Tube, Facebook etc
- Utilise Google reviews (to increase profile), and utilise other aspects of Google business, eg ads and Maps – make sure photos are up to date, add our own photos / ensure search function of key words re TBS
- Digital poster screens
- Hash tags for Instagram
Research and data collection
- Research piece for existing students
- Survey at end of retreat / specific feedback form with set questions – after figuring out what it is exactly we would like to know
- Data collection – include post codes on mailing list to help understand demographics of people attending the centre.
- Forms should mention our treatment of personal information and that we don’t store any payment information on the TBS website.
- Focus on the community living near the temple. The population is booming. Many local residents don’t know the centre is here and our knowledge of the local community is also limited.
- Local promotion –– eg possibly bigger signage on Cookes Road and elsewhere. Local posters
- Reconsider doing intro talks around Craigieburn / Sunbury communities (although these were labour intensive).
- There is a lot of existing TBS content on YouTube although we have stopped streaming and posting ongoing classes there. Ideally, we would clean up the content that’s there at the moment and have a historical record of one or more introductory series & one complete PTE series.
- In recent months several people have been trained in use of campaign monitor, creation of forms and doing web edits. This has helped to decentralise publicity work to various teams. This program has been really successful, and it would be positive to continue and extend it.
These ideas will be passed back to relevant teams for consideration.
The online credit card payment facility via the website has made it much easier to arrange registrations for centre events and the associated payments. There was a suggestion that people might prefer to pay by bank transfer rather than by credit card. This suggestion will be passed to the finance committee for investigation.