By Tom Gump, president of the Rotary Club of Edina Morningside, Minnesota, USA, and a District 5950 trainer
Since 1 July, 2016, my Rotary club has recruited and brought in 31 new members. Eleven of these new members are women and eight of them are under 40 years of age. The club has gone from being classified as a “medium” sized club in our district to being classified as a “large” club in just over nine months. How did this happen? Here’s our tips:
- Know your club’s strengths. If you meet in the morning, you will probably be a good fit for a 9 to 5 employee. But if you meet at noon, you’re more likely to appeal to retirees or parents of school-age children. If someone doesn’t fit your format, recommend them to another club. They won’t forget you and may send you someone another day. Let all the clubs in your area know you are looking for members, and they may send you some that better fit your format than their own.
- Keep a list of potential recruits. It doesn’t matter if it’s a paper list or if it’s kept on the desktop of your computer – it just makes you think about those people and others that may be a fit for your club.
- Make recruiting the top priority in your club. You can’t do everything as a club president, and knowing that will give you some freedom to focus on the most important thing. Having new members – with new energy – will help you have more people to raise money for The Rotary Foundation, serve on your committees, and invite additional members/more smiling faces to your meetings and fun event. Let your members know this is the top priority so they can all help.
- Create a letter that lists all the great things about your club. List your star members, the advantages of where your club meets, how many members it has, etc. Make sure to tailor the email/letter to the wants of any potential new member.
- List potential areas of responsibilities. Potential members will want to know how they can fit in and what opportunities there are for serving.
- Be persistent. There will be times that it takes literally a dozen requests to get someone to a meeting. Keep asking. They may come to a meeting, or tell you they can’t join now because they are too busy, or they aren’t interested in joining at the moment. These are all fine answers as long as you keep track of them and keep in touch. How many times did you have to be asked? (It was over a course of two years for me)
- Talk about Rotary wherever you go. At church, temple, work, neighborhood gatherings, family gatherings, parties, etc. You’ll be amazed how easy it is after you practice for a while. Getting a lot of “no” answers built my confidence because it didn’t hurt as bad as I thought and most people were actually happy I asked, even if they responded negatively. It’s always a good time to recruit.
- Celebrate when you get a new member. This gets the club excited about getting more members. Our club makes a poster of the individuals after they’ve been voted in and we put it in the front of the room at our next meeting. We do the same thing when we induct a new member.
- Realize there is no finish-line. Even if you are at the size that your club wants to be, there are always reasons people leave. And new insights always benefit a club. You’re either growing or you’re dying.
- Be vibrant. Wear a turkey suit before Thanksgiving (it’s only your dignity you stand to lose), wear a lanyard with lots of “flair”/Rotary pins (it gets people talking to you), make outrageous centerpieces for your meeting tables (it gets people talking to each other), greet people outside the building you are meeting in and hold the door open for them (it lets people know you care).
These really work. Try them out.
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.