By Gary Bennett, past president of the Rotary Club of Kelowna and current member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
I read with great interest what President-elect Mark Daniel Maloney had to say about growing Rotary in the March issue of The Rotarian. He is spot on. Healthy membership is the life blood of any organization and Rotary is no exception. Because we all benefit from a thriving membership, all of us share a responsibility to help grow Rotary and bring in new members. President-elect Mark’s emphasis on growing Rotary is a welcome reminder of our opportunity to help.
When you think about why people stay or go, it really isn’t that complicated. People have many competing commitments in life. No one is required to be a Rotarian; it is voluntary. People will seriously consider joining if they perceive the net benefits they receive exceed the costs. Members will stay if that experience proves true. And it follows logically that the reverse is true. A person will not join if they think the net experience will not be positive, and they will leave if the experience has not been beneficial.
Fortunately, The Four-Way Test and the Rotary Code of Conduct, can help us in building that positive experience. They are all about treating people fairly, building better friendships, and creating goodwill. These principles go far beyond Rotary. They are the backbone of judicial systems around the civilized world and the envy of anyone living under totalitarian rule. These are the things people are drawn to. If our clubs are perceived to operate under these principles in our community, people will be drawn to us.
Here are ten things every member can do to create a positive experience:
- Apply The Four-Way Test and Code of Conduct in your lives and in your club proceedings. Before judging or expressing a point of view, sending an email, taking any action, find out the facts of a situation. After doing that, determine if an action is fair to all, will build goodwill and better friendships, and will be beneficial to all concerned. If not, don’t act.
- Become an advocate for policies and practices that are based on truth, fairness, inclusivity, and diversity.
- Always greet members with warmth and interest.
- Treat members with the respect you would like to get.
- Take the time to listen and evaluate diverse opinions and defend the right of members to express a view different from yours.
- If you have a concern with another member, speak to them personally. Don’t send a complaining email.
- Before you send an email or communicate with others, make sure the assertions you are making are based on fact. Always use an appropriate tone. Ask yourself, is it fair and will it build goodwill and better friendship?
- Get involved and spread the news about Rotary’s good work.
- If someone expresses a concern about Rotary, listen and see what you can do to correct the situation.
- None of us are perfect. We all can display poor judgment at times. If you find you’ve made a mistake or offended someone, apologize as soon as possible. Not only will your action be good for Rotary, but you will gain respect for doing so.
The above is not an all-inclusive list; you may have ideas to add to it. Share your ideas with others.
I believe if we as individual Rotarians all adopt the strategies above, we will gain enormous respect and fondness from our Rotary peers, and each of us will be much happier being part of an organization that operates in this manner. Moreover, our club’s reputation for being welcoming and fair will spread throughout our communities. This will result in people gravitating toward Rotary who are seeking fellowship and an opportunity to serve their community. Getting and keeping members will become much easier.