Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of blog posts celebrating Membership Month.
By Michael Walstrom, president of the Rotary Club of Downtown Boca Raton, Florida
Rotary, like any business, has customers. For us, those customers are our members and we must provide value to assure satisfied customers. The key to attracting and retaining young professional “customers” is presenting a Value Proposition that is attractive.
In a previous post, I discussed the Young Professional (YP) Membership Development project I took on in District 6930. I put together a survey of ten questions designed to get at the core of what brought those members into Rotary, why they stay, what they want, and what challenges they face. From this, we learned that young professionals are looking for networking and mentorship, but have concerns about time, money, and family commitments. Fortunately, Rotary has considerable value to offer in all of those areas.
- Networking: Many young professionals are looking for business, and that’s OK. People do business with those they know, like, and trust. Rotary can help there, as long as expectations are set from the beginning.
- Leadership: Through Rotary, young professionals are able to establish themselves as leaders in the community. Their values can be made clear; they give back, and learn to work with others. “Come, join us, be a leader.” This is a strong value proposition for the young professional.
- Mentorship: Many of our young professionals are also interested in working with current community leaders and in being mentored. How many of your club members could provide this value?
- Time & money: Clubs have increasing flexibility to address the time and money issue in ways they see fit, ways that are adapted to their unique communities and challenges. Some examples include corporate memberships, and “Rule of 35” memberships which allow members under the age of 35 to pay a reduced rate that just covers dues to RI and the meals they attend.
- Family Commitments: Family is important, and there may be no better place for a young professional to spend quality time with their family, while teaching kids valuable life lessons in service. We say, families welcome!
Once we have identified the value our clubs have, the key is to get that message out. Again, like any business, we need to develop a coordinated marketing plan to “sell” our club to young professionals in the community. A Young Professionals Committee is a good start, but I’ll save more on that topic for a future blog post.
Check out Rotary International’s Engaging Younger Professionals, a new online toolkit that helps clubs better understand younger professionals. From ideas for outreach and engagement to long-term benefits of becoming a Rotarian, this toolkit helps clubs rethink their membership, from a broad perspective down to a tactical level.