Is a corporate membership plan right for you?

Members of the Humboldt Rotary Club pack food for the hungry in May.

By Christine Warrington, 2018-21 assistant governor District 6760, and a member of the Rotary Club of Humboldt, Tennessee, USA

Like many Rotary clubs, we were looking for ways to boost our membership two years ago when we heard about the flexible and innovative club models being promoted out of Rotary headquarters. We were excited and did a bit of research to see if one option, corporate membership, would work for us. I am happy to report the results have been phenomenal.

I have since traveled to many clubs near and not-so-near to share our success story with other Rotarians at Rotary events. We are at 75 members, up from 45 a little over a year ago and we anticipate growing to 100 members by the end of this year. Here’s a bit of information about how we did it.

Christine Warrington with the banner the club received from District 6760 as  medium size club of the year for its corporate membership plan.

When I talk to other Rotary groups, I stress that our corporate membership plan is not the end all and be all. It is just one of many tools a club can offer to energize and motivate club members to “ask” people to join. Most of the people who are joining our club had never been asked to join Rotary until we rolled out our new plan.

At the start of our evaluation process, we took the following three steps.

  • We discussed with fellow Rotarians within our club who have been long time members as to the feasibility of a corporate plan.
  • We contacted key clubs within the US that have corporate plans in place to understand the perceived benefits.
  • We discussed the idea and came to agreement at our board meeting to move forward with the plan.

We approached two influential companies in our area who agreed to become our first two corporate sponsors. These were the Jones Family of Companies and Bancorp South. Both companies had one member each and will move forward to a four-member and two-member corporate membership respectively.

The plan provides companies the flexibility of using any of their designated members to meet attendance requirements for the organization as a whole. While they pay RI dues for all members in the corporate plan, the cost savings occurs with meals which we calculate at one half of the number of people who are in the corporate plan. (For example, if they have two people who share a corporate membership, they pay one meal cost; for a four-person corporate membership, two meals.) If they choose to bring all members for special events, they are simply charged additional meal costs in the quarterly billing.

The advantage to our club with this plan is to increase organic growth within the companies currently represented in our organization along with providing flexible options for other companies who have the potential to be new members.

Both companies viewed the plan as a great way to introduce Rotary to employees of their company without the stress of weekly attendance for all their members. They also use their corporate membership to introduce employees to the great things going on in our area and within Rotary.

We would be happy to talk with other clubs about how the corporate plan has worked for us, and how it might work for you. Send us an email.

3 thoughts on “Is a corporate membership plan right for you?

  1. Mike McCutchen here, a member of the Rotary Club of Stuart, VA and recently the Area 15 Membership Advocate. I am looking to establish an Area 15 Membership Plan and wondering if you have a plan for your Area that you could share (not above plagiarism). Congrats on your successes with Corporate Memberships, it will be a part of our plan. Cheers, Mike…


  2. It appears that you have welcomed a corporation as a member when it has been my understanding that Rotary only welcomes individuals as members. I initiated a Corporate Membership program where two employees qualify the corp to be a member. One additional note. when you identify a corporation as a “sponsor” it could be a problem when its name is identified with a fundraiser, implying that it has indeed “sponsored” the event, when in fact it may not be the case, it is actually a “corporate member.”
    Congrats on the initiative and the increase in membership.
    Dick Rohe Rotary Club of Rutland, Vermont


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