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.