By Michael Bucca, Membership Chair, Central Ocean Rotary Club of Toms River, New Jersey, USA
Most Rotary clubs would be elated to have the chance to add new members on a regular basis. Many around the world have used traditional recruitment methods such as membership drives, advertising in newspapers, and inviting guest speakers to join. While clubs have success with these methods, there is one key component that helps convert more prospective members into actual members.
What is personalization?
Personalization is taking aspects of a prospective member’s life and applying them to the benefits of Rotary, thus creating a mutually beneficial experience. This involves asking a prospective member to tell their story so you can get to know the person’s background and interests. Then you can emphasize what it is about Rotary and your club that will particularly suit that prospect.
Everyone has a story, professionally and personally. Some of your prospects will be business owners, some employees, some even retired. People will be interested in different things, and have different reasons for wanting to serve. Some individuals might be eager to roll up their sleeves and get involved in hands-on service projects.
The good news is that Rotary can be personalized, without eliminating the traditions that make Rotary great.
Others may really want to join a committee and contribute organization or administrative skills. Still others might be strongest at connecting to members and people in your community and spreading the word about your club. Finding these stories will lay the groundwork for you to create a Rotary experience that will be the right fit for them.
The broader concept of personalization has become a way of life in today’s society, especially among young professionals in their 20s and 30s. These generations are accustomed to personalizing everything they interact with. Their social media pages, iPhone cases, and television viewing habits have all become customizable. Molding their lives to Rotary can be off-putting. The good news is that Rotary can be personalized for them, without eliminating the traditions that make Rotary great.
How to use it
Here are three examples of situations that may arise and how a club can use this concept to make their club attractive to the potential member:
- A time-starved business owner might not see the commitment of Rotary as something he or she can do. But show this person the benefit of in-person networking and how it can help their business, and conversely how they can use their business and professional skills to help others, and you have created a mutual partnership. They will see Rotary as time well spent.
- An employee may be hesitant to join Rotary because he or she has revolving commitments that make it difficult to attend a weekly meeting. But perhaps this person has a real heart for service. They may be able to attend service activities beyond the normal workday hours, and take part in weekend or evening club events. If you apply a bit of flexibility, you could allow the individual to count these as meeting makeups and remove a barrier to membership.
- Maybe you find out a prospective member has a passion for a particular area of service. If your club is already engaged in this area, you can explain how membership will help the individual pursue this passion. Or if not, you can extend membership and ask them to help you get started in that area.
Personalization coupled with traditional membership methods can grow almost any club. Rotary has enough magnetism and appeal to pique anyone’s interests. If we take the time to get to know what those interest are, and refine our message to touch their heart strings, we will make them a Rotarian for life.
About the author: Michael Bucca is an Emmy® award winning freelance technical manager for television stations in the New York City area. He currently serves as membership chair of the Central Ocean Rotary Club of Toms River. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @MichaelBucca.