5 steps to club growth: why membership matters

Ainsley Brown at installation banquet

Ainsley Brown, left, receives his pin as Vocational Service Director from then-president Jemelia Davis at the club’s 2017 installation banquet.

By Ainsley Brown, Rotary Club of St. Andrew, Jamaica

My club, the Rotary Club of St. Andrew, Jamaica, has a storied history. We were chartered in 1966, four years after Jamaica’s independence from the United Kingdom, as the third Rotary club in Jamaica. We have a pioneering spirit as demonstrated by being the first Rotary club in Jamaica to allow women to join.

Rotary is a wonderful global movement that allows individuals to come together and take actions that are an expression of our collective will to make this world a better place. Our members are our greatest strength, and membership matters. But our greatest strength is also our greatest challenge. Like a lot of clubs, we struggle with membership. How do we recruit new members, retain existing members, transition members of Rotaract into Rotary, and re-engage current or former members?

I won’t be so bold as to suggest we have found the solution to membership growth. But I do believe we have found a solution. And the funny thing is it was staring us in the face the whole time: The Four Way Test. The best way to grow membership, in my opinion, is by “building goodwill and better friendships.”

The club carried out five initiatives in August 2019, spearheaded by our director of club administration and the membership chair, that we hope will re-engage, retain, and recruit past, present, and future members:

  1. Member call – Calling members to ask how they are doing and encouraging them to attend. While this is certainly not a new idea, it goes a long way in saying to members you are appreciated and it is proven to get people out to meetings and events.
  2. A games night – a fun-filled night of fellowship, relaxation, and networking.
  3. A membership mixer – Yet another fun-filled night of fellowship, relaxation, and networking, this one with an eye toward corporate relationships. The club has engaged a major financial institution in Jamaica to sponsor the mixer geared toward allowing prospective members to interact with existing Rotarians outside of our mid-day meeting time on Tuesdays.
  4. The Membership Challenge – Attracting members is a challenge, why not make the effort into a contest. Each club member is challenged to invite a guest to a club meeting or service project. Members earn additional points if the guest joins, represents a vocation not presently in the club, or is a young professional between the ages of 25-45.
  5. Tell your story, Why am I a Rotarian? – We know stories not stats attract people to Rotary. This initiative creates an avenue for members to tell their Rotary story. By sharing our journeys, members better understand, appreciate, and learn from each other’s experiences.

Through these and other efforts we will build goodwill and better friendships proving that membership matters.

Find strategies and ideas to connect with prospective members.

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