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    November 2011: FAWCO Region 5 Regional Meeting

    Report by RC 5: Frauke Rademacher-Heidemann

     FAWCO 2011 Region 5 Meeting  ‘ Region 5 Rocks ‘, November 11-13 in Berlin, Germany

    Meeting Highlights

    All eight clubs in Region 5 participated in our annual Regional Meeting, this time in Berlin, where the AWC of Berlin hosted and planned a perfect program with high concentration on FAWCO work mixed with highlights of life in Berlin.

    32 FAWCO Club-Reps, -Presidents, -Members joined by the FAWCO President and Board gathered in Berlin’s Filmhotel ‘Hollywood Media Hotel’, almost next door to the ‘Hard Rock Café’ in the center of the city. Reason enough to choose topics that ‘rock US Expat’s life by new Tax and Banking issues’, FAWCO’s world wide Target Program on Water, and exchange of club activities and experiences.

    Each club had prepared reports on Club Profiles, Best Practices, and Issues and Concern, ahead of the meeting, allowing us to make best use of our time. Our 2nd VP plans to make the club data available on our FAWCO Website as benchmark data to be shared world wide.


    A key topic was ‘Understanding US-German (and other countries) Cross Border Tax and Banking Issues plus Estate Planning’. Margaret Spethmann from Hamburg presented information she collected in her long term intense research and provided detailed but compact documentation


    Margaret, seated on the left, offered her support to the clubs and the FAWCO Board on voluntary base. Our appreciation and thanks go out to Margaret. Her future help with be highly valued. Cat Connor (AWC Hamburg) is FAWCO’s Web specialist. Cat answered questions on website technology and security issues. Thanks to Cat for  volunteering her knowledge and her support.

    Celebrating AWC Berlin's 80th anniversary at Ronald McDonald house, long time beneficiary of AWC Berlin

    FAWCO was formed in Berlin, 80 years ago. The AWC of Berlin was the host then and now invited us to celebrate the 80thbirthday of the ‘old lady of Berlin’ who remained remarkably young and vibrant.

    On our way to the party Angelika MacLarren, President of AWCB, gave us a grand tour through the city, with a walk through the Brandenburg Gate and down the glamorous avenue ‘Unter den Linden’. We stopped to visit the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse.

    The birthday cake was waiting for us at the Berlin Ronald McDonald House which the AWC of Berlin sponsors since several years. 


    The RMDH team does impressive host work for  children with cardiac disease or other medical condition requiring close relatives to accompany the children.             

             Club Reports and Best Practices                                


    Detailed work on the club reports took place the next morning. Managed by Susanne Hirschberg (AWC Duesseldorf), the clubs exchanged experiences, ideas, recommendations to be shared by all:

    Tracy Moede (AWC Hamburg) summarized the results:

    Best Practices (BP) broken down in 5 categories for BP library on the FAWCO website: Membership (recruitment, welcome, retention, recognition of volunteers, etc), Club Management (how to deal with difficult members & difficult board members, consistency in maintaining board members, etc.) Communication (magazine, email, e-newsletter, etc.) Fundraising, Activities / Events, External communication (presence in community, local government, etc).

    Region 5 Best Practices:

    AWA Vienna: Publication of books „Living in Vienna”, Highlights magazine

    AWC Taunus: Annual charity event

    AWC Hamburg: FAWCO conference fees raffle,, Currents magazine

    AWC Düsseldorf: ACE – All Club Email (e-newsletter)

    AIW C Cologne: “Writing Women Group” activity, fundraising program

    AWC Berlin: Annual generation charity Bingo

    IWA  e.V.,  Augsburg: Membership recruitment drive

    MIWC Munich: Team system for (board) job sharing

    Resulting Discussion:


    Vienna: Do other clubs take an admin fee out of any profits to pay for club costs other than event expenses? Vienna takes 20%.

    No other clubs take a fee.

                Hamburg: 8€ per member goes directly to FAWCO Foundation Target project.

                Düsseldorf: charity focus on women, children, education

                Cologne: annual Gala with live and silent auction

                Taunus: leftover auction items from gala are sold in an on-line auction

    *suggestion came from Margaret Nelson Spethmann. She has offered her HH home for auction in other region 5 clubs’ charity auctions. Contact her for details.

    Activities / Events

    Hamburg: uses evites for larger club events

    Cologne: weekly /bi-weekly e newsletter w/ events, updates

    Düsseldorf: sends out paper calendar in mail 2-3 weeks every 2-3 weeks

    Munich: sends brief email update if group activity after activity took place in which host is thanked,  brief update of what happened & a reminder of next meeting.


    Berlin: Stammtisch takes place same date, same place every month. Monthly meetings a platform for new members to meet club.

    Hamburg: Hamburger Helpers offers new member event 3x a year for prospective members to meet club and current club members. New members are matched up with current members based on (mainly) neighborhood so currents member can show new member “the ropes” and accompanies new member to events to get her started in club. End of year appreciation event for helpers.

    Augsburg: offers beginning German classes given by club, included in membership fees (must be member, taught by volunteer member).

    Problem: getting members to rejoin, non-members attending club events, but not joining

    Solution: Augsburg: member covered by insurance at events.

    Hamburg: if there are too many non-members unwilling to join, event is taken out of club  listing. Membership fees pro-rated quarterly, dues tax deductible for German clubs. Non-members pay more for events by 10-15€

                 Taunus: offers club dues and separate Mom-kid group dues.

    Problem: How to keep “lifers” involved?

    Solution: Munich: monthly meetings w/ speakers

    Düsseldorf & Hamburg: honorary membership

    Club Management

    Problem: How do you fill “holes” in board positions & committees?

    Solution: Munich: renamed board “TEAM”. Volunteers work on responsibilities together in teams and have fun working as a unit sharing the job. Only 3 elected officials. Very loose terms   (2 years optimal, but 6 months OK). Not all team members must attend board meetings. Reporting among team members essential, Not one person owns a job. Demonstrate job. Give job a deadline. Only 6 months, until January next year, etc.

    Hamburg: List only the positions you legally are required to in the constitution. The rest can be listed in the guidelines or by-laws. This was the board can easily change things with a majority vote.

    Augsburg: Don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t assume the answer will be “No”. Give the perfect candidate the chance to say “Yes”. Don’t underestimate the shy person. Catch the newcomers.


    Constant contact – go through FAWCO website for discount.

    Pros: can see click visits, value is in the appearance, easy to use, track links.

    PayPal – better than a bank transfer, convenient for members, 2% fee per transaction.

    A special highlight of the meeting was the pre- and post conference activity. On the night before the meeting our member of the AIWC Robin Goldberg gave a wonderful piano concert at the Steinway-House. On Sunday afternoon several of us visited the opera house with a performance of CANDIDE  by L.Bernstein.


    Region 5 thanks Angelika McLarren and her team of the AWC Berlin for a professional and wonderful meeting !

    We parted with the announcement of ‘Next Year in Augsburg’ as the location for our Region 5 Meeting, Nov 2012. Our newest member club in Region 5, the IWA e.V., Augsburg, has offered to be our host in 2012. THANK YOU !

    Frauke Rademacher-Heidemann FAWCO Region 5 Coordinator

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