People are asking to join, why are we ignoring them?

Rotarians in District 7070 package bags with items for childrens’ birthday parties to be delivered to local food banks.

By Bob Wallace, Rotary Coordinator for Zone 24 East and a member of the Rotary Club of Port Hope, Ontario, Canada

At our zone institute in Winnipeg, I saw a presentation about Rotary’s membership leads program and how districts are receiving many requests from the program but not following up on the leads.

Later, I was at Rotary headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, for training as a Rotary Coordinator, and Brian King, RI Director of Membership Development, pointed out to us how failing to follow up on these leads represented a major public image failure. Think about it. A person makes contact with you, and you totally ignore them? What does that say about your organization?  In the business world, companies often make cold calls to generate business, sometimes with no results. In this case, people are coming to us asking to join.

In District 7070, we researched the outstanding list of membership leads and saw that there were many names that we had never contacted. Many times, when you ask people why they haven’t joined Rotary, they will say “I was never asked.” Taking that to heart, we also considered the professional research Rotary has received showing that Rotarians join for friendship and social activities. So we decided to use an old tried and true method of contact. We called to talk to each of the leads.

The main message here is email does not work; a personal call is best.”

This took some time to call all the outstanding leads. But the first impression has worked well. We describe our district, what clubs we have available and their locations. The lead is able to ask questions. In some cases, it was easy to suggest a nearby club, but for others, it was more difficult. In some cases, we suggested a couple clubs they could visit. We then emailed the lead club information, meeting times, and locations. We also emailed the club president and asked them to call the lead and invite them to a meeting. The main message here is email does not work; a personal call is best.

The end result is we have several new members joining our clubs. One example is a lead that joined a club and is now serving on the district conference planning committee. Another lead attended our district conference to learn more about Rotary. Finally, one of the leads mentioned that she wanted to join Rotary now so that when her parents, who are Rotarians, arrive in Toronto for the 2018 convention, she will be a Rotarian to host them.

So what do you say? Isn’t it worth picking up the phone and calling those membership leads?

16 thoughts on “People are asking to join, why are we ignoring them?

  1. Pingback: Our top stories of 2018 | Rotary Voices

  2. Some feedback from the UK – I filled out the enquiry form on the Leigh on Sea page for the Rotary Club and received an email response from Leigh-on-Sea personnel within a few hours. A telephone call was arranged and a week later, I attended my first meeting. I was met and looked after by Phil, the lovely chap who had responded to my initial enquiry. It was a very enjoyable event and everyone was very friendly.
    From personal experience, for continuity I think it is vital that enquiries go through to the actual location groups rather than via a central collecting point. But this does mean that someone in the local group must ‘own’ management of the enquiry form on their website.


  3. I’m so sad, contacted many clubs, e clubs for membership, but even sorry v can’t member you message I won’t get from anybody so sad when ignoring the officials such a great organization makes me so bad


  4. The idea is great but the tool is lacking some functionality. The District and each club should be able to define the person/people or list where notifications are sent. There are many automated systems that can be used for follow-up such as MailChimp and Constant Contact. Why does Rotary always try to reinvent what’s already working?


    • Thank you for your comment, Ray. One change that has been made recently is that now you can view which club a lead has been assigned to on the homepage of the Membership Leads platform. We continue to work to make enhancements to the platform so that it meets the needs of Rotary leaders like yourself. Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback.



  5. I am the DMC of 3240 and I religiously forward the leads to AG’s & all 88 club’s, it has helped and we have been able to get in new members.


  6. The system is working fine. From our experience, it is that people do not read or act upon the emails they receive. Our District Membership chair tries to follow up as you have suggested. If it is not clear which club is an obvious option, then the AG is asked to help guide the prospect.


  7. I just visited the page on My Rotary and I see that notice is sent to the District for Club recommendations, then the Club is notified of the lead. So, there is no excuse for any lead going unfollowed. I suggest someone in Evanston follow up with unresponded leads to see why. Maybe something is broke in the chain?


    • When a lead has not be contacted and resubmits their interest, Rotary connects with the corresponding district to see why they have not yet taken action, which is great! Nothing is broken in the chain, so to speak. The platform is designed so that districts and clubs can use their local expertise to respond to leads appropriately. This encourages the prospective members to visit vibrant clubs and clubs that will meet their personal needs. The beauty of having the districts and clubs take on this role is that they know their clubs better than anyone else! But you’re right, they’ve got to contact these leads and follow up to ensure this process works for everyone!


  8. Does the lead on My Rotary generate any notice to the Club? or, is it the responsibility of someone in the Club to check My Rotary to see if there are any requests?


    • The district get the lead initially to review and to assign the lead to a club. Once this is done the club does get an email notification


  9. Our website entry system could be improved on to allow us to enter prospects, rather than just the prospect themselves. This would allow for better tracking and follow up. But when I’ve tried to do that in the past, the data entry would not allow me to go past some of the fields if I did not know the information. (ie: Even if I have name, city, email and phone, the system would not accept because I did not have an exact address. So these prospects may be falling through the cracks.


    • Hi Doug you can definitely can make referrals through the Member Center page and you only need to enter a perspective member first and last name, email address, profession and preferred club meeting location, the information is then shared with district officers based on the club meeting location on the district’s Manage Membership Leads page who then can assign the lead and make the candidate’s information visible to club officers on the club’s Manage Membership Leads page who then can track the lead’s status. We want to make sure there is no lead left behind and the best follow up would be a text message or phone call will go a long way rather than sending an email.


  10. Great article Bob. I agree with everything you say and note we all need to do a better job of followup. In my travels I run across many member prospects who I pass on usually to the AG if I can locate their contact info. They are best suited to help the prospect find a club that is a good fit. Disappointed to say that when I follow up, over half have ever been contacted or encouraged.


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