Corporate membership: What has worked for us and what hasn’t

Corporate members have helped the Rotary Club of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Corporate membership has helped the Rotary Club of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, attract senior business leaders.

By Robert Fisher, Rotary Club of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

As the first club chartered in Australia, we have a membership of around 250 people. We had two ‘champions’ who were keen to introduce corporate membership. Over several years, they sought acceptance of this category in the upper layers of Rotary, and eventually were given the go-ahead to try it as part of a pilot project in 2011.

Motivators

We saw corporate membership as a way to uphold our club’s long tradition of attracting the most senior members of Melbourne’s business community, and tap into corporate networks to use their expertise to enhance our social programs. It was our belief that we could achieve significantly greater impact by getting entire corporations involved. We are able to offer them access to a highly respected service organization, and opportunities for their staff to put in volunteer hours and engage in projects.

Five years on

We currently have 17 members from six organizations. RI, district and Rotary Down Under dues are paid for each corporate member as if they were ordinary members. We aim to have just one corporate partner per industry or field. Professional services, banking, and higher education are among some of the industries that are represented. (One member dropped out last year due to lack of senior level connection, and probably inadequate relationship management on our part.)

Our corporate members are engaged in one or more of our projects such as homelessness, domestic violence, and clean water. While they are enthusiastic contributors, the greatest challenge is getting and keeping their attention. They all have extensive time commitments. Attending regular lunch meetings is not easy for them, so we run less frequent and more informal evening meetings to provide them an additional option to keep in touch. Also, our club has a  corporate team which meets quarterly with all the corporate members to provide updates and identify potential areas of cooperation.

What have we learned?

Perseverance and focus are required to ensure that the expectations of corporate members are met. This requires constant efforts to maintain close relationships with the corporation and the individuals. We have found that it is better to get prospective corporate members excited in projects first, rather than just focusing on adding members.

Even with its challenges, we have found corporate membership to be highly beneficial.

Editor’s note: All clubs are free to experiment with different membership models– such as corporate membership — through the flexibility granted by the latest Council on Legislation.

12 thoughts on “Corporate membership: What has worked for us and what hasn’t

  1. Thanks for sharing. We used to have the highest businessmen of our community as members , now they are not keen on supporting Rotary at all.Good to learn about how flexible we can be. Not quite clear about how you approach these corporate members.

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    • Héctor. Buenas tardes. Soy miembro del Rotary Club El Peñón en Caracas Venezuela. Hemos puesto esta modalidad en practica con buenos resultados. Estoy a la orden para cualquier consulta via skype. Un fuerte abrazo rotario.

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  2. Was corporate membership a category added to RC Melbourne’s club bylaws?

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  3. My Club has also been considering Corporate Memberships and this article was quite useful to know the pros and cons. Rtn. Firdaus Kapadia, Rotary Club of Nasik Road, India. RI Dist. 3030.

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  4. In our District 7610 we are working on potential corporate memberships – glad to hear of the efforts of the Melbourne club. Would be very interested in the fee / dues structures, the success of getting corporate memberships to increase service projects, and corporate members shifting to individual memberships.

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  5. I agree, if we can successfully bring in Corporate Sector in Rotary everywhere, we can achieve GOOD Financial support and their expert administrative officers and manpower to assist us at various projects!
    Only one point bothers me is sometimes our Rotarians won’t agree to Corporate world terms as their own ego of ‘prestige’ goes down!!

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  6. Pingback: Corporate membership: What has worked for us and what hasn’t | The Rotary Club of Carteret

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