By Amrit Pal Singh, immediate past president, Rotary Club Chandigarh, India
For a Rotary club to be effective, it must be active in all avenues of service. It must also create a positive public image and be a catalyst for promoting peace and understanding globally. The key to achieving this lies in the members. Without members, there is no club, and without effective members, clubs cannot be effective.
Many leaders talk about membership development and retention in their strategy sessions. Some complain about disinterested members, while their members talk about feeling disconnected to the club or even to Rotary in general.
As president of my club last year, I had the opportunity to look at membership closely. I feel the burden lies on both sides. To have an effective club, members and leaders must work together to build community and trust. In particular, leaders should:
- Get members involved: Members need to be active in projects and programs of the club. Give them specific tasks according to their expertise and time. This could be as small as delivering announcements at a meeting or as big as running a project or fundraiser. When members are involved, they feel more connected. And an active Rotarian is a committed Rotarian.
- Give members responsibility: Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks, and give members independence and ownership. Encourage members to make a project their own, be it a small one like beautifying a community park or a big effort like a global grant application for water and sanitation systems in Africa. Encourage them along the way.
- Create a sense of belonging: The club and its members should be like one extended family. Welcome members at meetings and take time to learn what is going on in their lives outside the club. Come up with activities that allow established members to get to know newer ones. Let members know the club stands behind them and is there to support them if they need anything.
- Build trust: Conduct yourself in a manner that earns your members’ trust. The Four-Way Test is a reminder that if you follow basic ethics in your daily life you will earn trust. Members will give you their best when they trust you.
- Acknowledge success and effort: Take time at a club meeting to acknowledge successful efforts. Consider writing something up in the club’s newsletter or on your website. Extending compliments builds a member’s sense of worth and satisfaction in the club.
- Communicate well and regularly: Provide your members with information on everything happening in the club. Share the decisions of your board both during meetings and in club publications. Seek your members input on key decisions.
Members also have a responsibility to see that a club succeeds. This includes:
- A sense of commitment: Members should show they are committed to the cause and purpose of the club and Rotary in general by being available to perform tasks, contribute to events and projects, and do more than show up for a meal.
- A sense of ownership: Members should take on activities or projects and make them their own. Give your club the same attention you would your profession or personal efforts. Give it your time and attention.
- A sense of sharing: Share your insight and expertise with others, whether professional or personal.
- A sense of giving: Be ready to give of your time, effort, or money, to the extent you are able. When everyone in a club is generous with their time, money and talents, a club thrives.
- A sense of accountability: Be accountable to the club and to each other. If you are given a task, do it with the same diligence you would your job or a personal pursuit. Don’t renege or go back on a commitment to another member or the club without discussion. A club’s performance reflects on its members. If a club is struggling, it’s probably because some or all of its members aren’t fully committed.
I strongly feel both the club leadership and its members are responsible for creating a bond of love and affection, an atmosphere of togetherness, and all-around camaraderie. Everyone has to make an effort in order to create an effective Rotary club.
Excellent points suggested for building a positive club atmosphere.
I accidentally lost my reply while typing it, earlier, which caused it to be incomplete. Please forgive me.
I would love to have someone to visit our club, and be a Guest Speaker on the mportance of taking the time to volunteer, and/or accept being delegated to assist in accomplishing goals and objectives; even though we are a small club. If we work as one, we will grow successfully as one. It can be done.
Your desire to have someone to talk about the importance of volunteering shows your heart is in the right place and you understand it’s importance. When people join Rotary it is assumed they want to serve as part of the rotary experience so to volunteer should come naturally to them. However, at times there is a mismatch in expectations and results. I think, as expressed in the article, we should involve the members in planning and executing our projects, then give them the responsibility and independence by delegating fully.
You should look for the human resource available in your area to find someone to speak on the subject. You can consult the district officers or other speakers in the corporate world around you. An experienced Rotarian can also do this.
Wish you all the best in your endeavours.
Amrit Pak Singh
excellent compilation and all matter is very useful
Couldn’t agree more with you A.P.
However ” Food for Thought ” is to consider introspection and revisiting the core i.e. The-Club ; where “Leaders in their respective professions ” become part of Rotary-fraternity , for a delightful experience in serving the Society.
Action-ground is @ The-club ; wherein through ” Connect ” + ” Interaction ” we aim for betterment of Society , as an individual + part of a Team.
It could help to undertake an objective & sensitive screening of Club’s existing membership , for any de-learning needs as well as imparting re-training / Rotary orientation ; for looking beyond oneself. The Club’s elders , leaders and Past-Presidents might deliberate and consider to hold the ball , as a Team.
The excercise should also evolve in providing answer to often raised question w.r.t. optimum membership for an effective club.
As you very candidly said – ” An institution is as good as it’s members “.
Dear Rtn. Tandon
You have rightly said that the Club is the core. Everything happens in the club. Rotary is nothing without its clubs.
Yes the senior Rotarians in a club should guide, mentor as well as listen to the other members. Leaders should be open to discussions and suggestions as good inputs can come from any member. This also forms a basis for making strategies which are in line with the goals of the club and Rotary in general.
Amrit Pal Singh