Membership tools you can use

Paul Roy

Paul Roy

By Paul R. Roy, membership chair for Rotary District 7820 (Canada)

Sometimes you do not have to climb over the fence or scale a wall. All you have to do is stand on your toes and peek over the top to get a new view of things.

While attending a conference in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, USA, for Rotary Zones 24 and 32 this past September, this thought came to my mind. “They can’t see over the fence.” Many of the district membership leaders were expressing all the challenges they have with membership growth and retention despite all their efforts.

Bring them in, keep them

Rotary, as many of us know, has had a large turnover in members during the past decade. We are losing as many as we are bringing in. This tells me attraction is not the issue but retention. We are good at bringing them in and terrible at keeping them. I agree engagement is important, but satisfaction is key. Many new members joined Rotary because of the ideals of Rotary. People do not leave Rotary. They leave clubs who did not live up to their Rotary expectations.

The land of healthy and vibrant clubs starts with change that’s just outside your comfort zone.

 

Where does member satisfaction come from? It comes from healthy clubs who make Rotary one of the most exciting hours of the week. The clubs that succeed are those who are OK with members who only come to two meetings a month but attend a committee meeting and are fully engaged in club projects. That’s a Rotarian in my book.

If you want members to fill the room each week appoint a strong program chair that will bring in great speakers. Getting great speakers is easy. Just ask “how would you like to speak to a group of influential Rotary members about the success of your company or organization?” Very few will ever say no. Our members want to be inspired. What a great way to do it.

Success in membership is a club issue. You can’t expect your district or Rotary International to provide the solution for you. Rotary is about the club. RI has all the resources we want at our disposal. Our zones have a great web site with ideas to share. All the tools are there. Great ones to start with in my opinion are the Vibrant Clubs Assessment and Club Membership Health Check Up.

No quick answer

But there is no silver bullet, and no quick answer. It boils down to this. Create a membership plan the general membership of your club is part of developing. Put your plan into action.

The land of healthy and vibrant clubs starts with change that’s just outside your comfort zone. Stand on your toes and look over the fence. There lies a horizon you haven’t seen yet.

6 thoughts on “Membership tools you can use

  1. I believe Paul is spot on on most of this article, but is off base when he states that ‘Success in membership is a club issue.” Clubs are on the front lines, but if success in membership is not the top priority of areas, districts, Zones, regions, RI and TRF, and the leaders of each, then success in membership will continue on the course it has been on for the last two decades.

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  2. Pingback: Looking over the fence | Warsaw Rotary , Club 3393, District 6540

  3. Hi Paul, you are absolutely spot on. We recommend that after a new member has been in the Club for about 3 to 4 months we have an info session for them. It is at that stage that they are usually asking ” what is this Rotary really all about ” Our DG, Greg Cryer tasked the RC of Durban North to produce a DVD called “The Coach”. This DVD is a collection of all the “stuff/info” that one needs to run a “fireside chat” and subsequent info session etc.
    Best wishes, Yours in Rotary
    Bruce Steele-Gray DGD District 9370.

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  4. Pingback: Today’s Links | Rotary International District 3040

  5. Paul, I must respectfully challenge the conclusions you’re drawing. You state:

    “Rotary, as many of us know, has had a large turnover in members during the past decade. We are losing as many as we are bringing in. This tells me attraction is not the issue but retention. We are good at bringing them in and terrible at keeping them.”

    Why are we losing roughly the same number of Rotarians as we’re recruiting? The observation and conclusion could just as confidently be written this way:

    “We are losing as many as we are bringing in. This tells me that we are only recruiting enough new Rotarians to maintain normal levels of attrition that all organizations experience. We need to get much smarter and much more efficient in marketing to prospects.”

    The conclusion that Rotarians are dropping off the rosters because they aren’t satisfied is only partially substantiated by the facts. Other factors contributing to attrition have noting to do with satisfaction. These include death, illness, changes in job or career, changes in family dynamics, and financial stress, to name a few.

    If Rotary is going to do more than tread water, numbers-wise, we’re going to have to do a better job of taking stock before drafting plans.

    Yours in Rotary,

    Rob Wood
    Past-president, South San Francisco Rotary Club
    Vocational Service Chair, District 5150

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  6. In my opinion the single biggest issue comes down to leadership at the club level. Most club members do not see the relevance of the District and view International as way beyond their comprehension. The most important leadership role is that of the Club President. A club member should not agree to take on this most important of roles if they are not prepared or able to provide true leadership. I have seen to many people who either do not understand leadership or who think that being a club president is an passive responsibility. Ineffective leadership, leads to membership decline, apathy and a failure to ensure that a club truly focuses on “Service”. To often the choice of a Club President is uncontested and goes to someone who really does not want the job. This is not a problem that District or International can solve. If effective leadership at the club level were to focus on membership retention and a modest increase in new members, total membership would increase. If each club prevented two members from leaving each year and had a net increase of two members, overall membership would increase by at least 120,000 (without taking into account membership deaths).

    Lester C. Cooper
    Past President, Lake Chelan Rotary Club
    Chelan WA District 5060

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