By Margie Kersey, Rotary Club of Stone Mountain, Georgia, USA
I love my club, but I was concerned. When I joined in 2006, there were over 60 members. By July 2016, there were only 43. We were adding new members every year, but we were losing more. Looking at the average age of my club, I was more worried – over 30 percent of the club was over the age of 70. The future didn’t look bright.
My goal as club president in 2016-17 was to make my club stronger. Membership was at the top of my agenda. The board and I identified two major issues: 1. We charged the second highest dues in our district and 2. Many members couldn’t make a weekly meeting.
We addressed dues first. We moved our meeting to a church hall and hired a caterer that charges far less than the country club. We presented the plan to our members, who enthusiastically supported reducing our dues from $800 per person to $380 annually. Our dues didn’t include food or anything else, meals and Foundation donations were on top of this charge!
Dues had gotten out of control because the membership didn’t want to conduct fundraisers, so they voted to assess themselves instead. It cost us members – both senior members who were retired and on a fixed income and potential new members who could join “cheaper” clubs within 20 miles of us. We now pay our annual dues in full on 1 July, and our quarterly bill includes the meals we have eaten and other assessments.
That was the easy part.
To address the second problem, we became a hybrid club. Thanks to the Council on Legislation providing more flexibility and removing some of the distinctions between clubs that meet in person and E-clubs that meet online, we became both. We stream our meeting every week using software. Members can log in to view and hear the meeting, as well as interact with other members and the speaker.
We purchased the equipment for $400. It was small and easy to install. The camera fits in the palm of your hand and the microphone sits on top of the slide projector along with the laptop. Most people don’t even notice the equipment.
Now, all our members are able to attend a meeting any way they wish. It has resulted in better attendance from our existing members and has generated a lot of excitement with potential new members. We have added six members so far, and we expect our club membership to continue to grow.
Our next step is adding membership types.
Throughout Membership and New Club Development month, we will be featuring blog posts that focus on club flexibility. From a hybrid club to dual membership, these posts feature clubs who have benefited greatly from restructuring or implementing new membership options.