Starting and Managing a PROBUS Club

How the Toronto Club Started

Probus Toronto - The First Year - Some History

This note was prepared at the end of our first year as a Probus club.

Starting the Club

In early summer of 2014, John Agnew (a former Rotarian and also a Senior) was looking for a Probus club to join. He knew about Probus from a number of friends and their enthusiasm for the clubs they had joined. But, he found that while there were many clubs in the Toronto suburbs and in the surrounding areas, there were none where he lived, in central Toronto.

On July 7th, 2014 he wrote to Richard Furlong, the Probus, District 2 Director, to ask about any plans for a Toronto club, only to find that although a couple of attempts had been made in the past there had been no success to date.

So, he asked the obvious question - "How do I go about starting one?"

Fortunately, Probus Canada has a web-site containing all the information needed to get going. And by visiting a club in Scarborough and Richard's Newmarket Men's club, it was possible to see Probus in action and get some very useful advice.

Read the entire article about the first year of PROBUS Toronto [PDF]

By 2018, the Toronto PROBUS Club was so popular that they could not accommodate more members and even the wait list was full.

The new PROBUS Canada website has made public an extensive Club Reference Guide for operating a PROBUS Club. We highly recommend reviewing the advice and sample forms they have created. You will find a standard constitution, bylaws, information on liability insurance, financial guidance, suggested roles for the management committee, and much more. While created for Canadian clubs, the information is of use to any club, anywhere.

PROBUS Canada Club Reference Guide
Standard Constitution for a PROBUS Canada Club [PDF]
Suggested Bylaws for a PROBUS Club [PDF]

Operating Manual

The Men's PROBUS Club of Newmarket, Canada, has generously shared their operating manual to assist other executive committees organizing and managing their club.

Download PDF

What is the right size?

Tim Casey from the very successful Port Perry PROBUS Club, Canada, shares two documents discussing how many members is the right number for your club, and how to gain new members. Tim has also indicated his willingness to speak at your club on these and other club management subjects.

How Many Members? [PDF]

How to Grow Your Club. [PDF]

How to start a club in your area
We are looking for more stories about how clubs started and practical information for those wishing to create a new club anywhere in the world. If you have anything to contribute, please contact the webmaster using the form below.

Making your club successful

Keeping your members happy

Rob Neary recently ran a survey at the AGM of the Probus Association of Queensland, Australia in which he asked “What things does your club do that makes you feel happy to be a member of that club?” What he received back are the Keys for a Successful Club out of the pens of the 36 clubs represented there.

The keys were:

  1. Have a good variety of speakers
  2. Make room for your members to talk about their interests and hobbies
  3. Reduce the formality of meetings - remember the 3F's - well 4F's
  4. Serve a good Morning Tea
  5. Make sure that members mix around and don't form cliques

Rob is preparing more information for this page. Please be patient.

Membership Development and Retention Strategy

The Probus Association of Queensland is currently working with Probus South Pacific on a Membership Development and Retention Strategy. We hope to make it available to PROBUS Global members soon.

A district meeting of 118 Canadian PROBUS Club executives held a day-long discussion on best practices, inefficiencies and potential solutions.

One Page Summary [PDF].
Meeting Outputs by Role [PDF].
Ideas Generated [PDF].

Rob Neary from Queensland has produced a lot of materials to help with membership retention, club growth, and club management. He is happy to share his materials with other PROBUS clubs. Here are some samples to use in your emails. Contact him for more.

There are so many ways to promote PROBUS and your local club that Rob has compiled an extensive list of Marketing Techniques [PDF]. Don't give up until you have tried every one of them.

International Day of Older Persons

On 14 December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly designated October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons (resolution 45/106). This was preceded by initiatives such as the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing, which was adopted by the 1982 World Assembly on Ageing and endorsed later that year by the UN General Assembly.

PROBUS Global has declared October 1 as PROBUS Day. PROBUS Day is celebrated by PROBUS organizations in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada and by individual PROBUS clubs around the world.

The September 2022 Newsletter features a long list of ways to celebrate PROBUS Day and use the opportunity to promote PROBUS and your club in your community.

  • Create a PROBUS Club flag or banner.
  • Have your club’s flag flown over City Hall.
  • Have your Mayor proclaim National PROBUS Day.
  • Enjoy cake, or a breakfast, or a luncheon.
  • Arrange for your local press to attend.
  • Hand out Flyers - Distribute flyers, or post notices or signs at schools, shopping malls, community centres and local businesses. Check if permission is required for posting.
  • Register on the Community Calendar - Promote your event in newspapers, shopping malls, on community television or radio, bulletin boards or in pharmacies and restaurants. Go where seniors are!
  • Create a Social Media Presence - Facebook and Twitter are a great way to get the word out and keep your event going past October 1. Many seniors today are tech-savvy—you can keep in touch all year long electronically.
  • Issue a media release - Let your local news outlets promote your plans, including newspapers, local cable, community blogs and radio stations.
Ideas compiled by Linda Metcalfe, PG Administrator and Marlene Pearce, PG Canadian Coordinator.

Rob Neary, President of the PROBUS Association of Queensland, has provided a guide for Marketing Your Club with templates for business cards, flyers, and posters and a myriad of ideas.

In Australia, PROBUS Day is celebrated in towns and cities by lighting landmarks such as bridges, towers and city halls in blue and gold. Look at the list for 2022.

Let us know how you promoted PROBUS Day in your community.

Club Web Sites

These days, a web site is expected of almost all clubs and organizations. Wordpress is often used to create one and there are a lot of examples to follow and YouTube explanations on how to go about it. Even so, some computer skill is necessary.

We invited someone who has set up a club site recently to create a template for a club to follow or to offer any suggestions for making a simple club site without too much trouble or cost. Patrick Whittick has set up the Dunmow PROBUS Club website and useful tools using Google products. He offers this comprehensive guide: Using Google Products for a PROBUS Club.

Linda Metcalfe has a lot of experience setting up club websites with Wordpress and can give you some tips if you are looking into it.

Nick French is a fan of Site 123 for club websites in South Africa. He can give you some pointers if that method appeals to you.

Many clubs and individuals with no experience or technical ability have used Wix to set up their websites.

Many clubs in our directory have websites. Browse some of them and if you see a style you like, ask their webmaster about how they built it. You might be surprised to find that they didn't know anything about how to do it until they began.

Barrie Morgan learned on his own and now builds websites using for his local clubs and friends.

If you are in the UK, David Vickery, one of our members, recommends who provide a web site service for a nominal fee.

Administration Systems

Probus clubs are often very active and can use systems to help manage their activities. These can be in the form of stand-alone tools like Excel or Wordpress, or in the form of specialized integrated membership software. Gaylen Racine, of the East York Probus Club (Toronto Canada) recommends a membership software package called Wild Apricot which has removed a considerable amount of grunt work from the volunteers. Gaylen has written about Computer Administration Systems [PDF].

Awards and Certificates

The Men's PROBUS Club of Newmarket, Canada hands out an achievement award at their annual Christmas luncheon.

  • The recipient must be a long time member of the club.
  • Have contributed significantly to the club.
  • Have made significant contributions to the community at large.
  • Is not currently a member of the Management Team.
  • The decision made by the Management Team, with suggestions from members welcomed.

Reopening after COVID

Rob Neary, President of PROBUS Queensland, has produced an extensive checklist for clubs to prepare for reopening. It appeared in the PROBUS Global June 2021 Newsletter. If you are in the process of returning to physical meetings you would be well advised to work your way through the checklist.

PROBUS Club Reopening Checklist

Zoom Meetings

Many clubs are now holding monthly meetings by Zoom. This is a great way to keep your club active during the pandemic. Members can attend from the safety of their own homes.

For attendees, it is easy enough that most are able to figure it out from the emailed invitation link. For hosts, many features are only available in the paid version of Zoom and it is worthwhile spending time to understand the features and options.

Download the comprehensive Dummies Guide to Using Zoom [PDF], created by our friends from the Lions Clubs International organisation in the UK.

The definitive source for information about how to install Zoom and run meetings is the Zoom YouTube Channel with a collection of short, clear, instructional videos.

Setting up and running a Zoom meeting is not difficult. All your club needs is one volunteer willing to coordinate the process and learn how to manage the meeting. For a PROBUS Club perspective, the PROBUS Club of Cambridge (Canada), has created a page of instructions with two very complete training videos aimed at their members.

PROBUS Global members are invited to attend many online club meetings. For an invitation, pick a meeting you wish to attend on the PROBUS Global Club Meeting and Presentations page. If you are holding a Zoom meeting, please consider inviting PROBUS Global members.

If your club is recording the meeting with the expectation of making it available on YouTube or for download from the club website, it is a good idea for the meeting invitation to include a warning about the recording, telling participants who wish not to show their face to leave their video off while making comments. Some may also wish to only show their first name or nickname on the display. A similar announcement should be made by the coordinator at the beginning of each meeting. When the meeting is being recorded, a RECORDING symbol appears at the top left of everyone's screen.

Hybrid Meetings with Zoom and In-Person

Several clubs have now implemented hybrid meetings that include Zoom guests and members who can't attend in person at the meeting venue. These have been shown to be extremely popular. Speakers do not have to be local residents or visitors. International guests make the meetings more interesting. Members who are unable to attend due to mobility or transportation issues can see their old friends again.

The clubs that have done this are willing to help other clubs work out the kinks in the system. It is not as difficult as it might seem at first. The Newmarket Club has prepared a short PDF describing their setup that you might find useful.

Finding Speakers

We are compiling a Directory of Speakers willing and able to present to your club. Depending on distance, they may be able to come to you, but more likely, they will present by Zoom. All of the speakers listed will have been recommended by one or more PROBUS clubs.

If you have enjoyed a speaker at your club and feel their talk would be appropriate for other clubs, please let us know about them so we can include them in our directory.

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