Editor’s note: Membership is the life blood of Rotary. Surveys have confirmed that members join because they want to connect with other people and take action to create lasting change. For Membership Month in August we have asked several experts to talk about how they reach out to prospective members, keep existing members engaged, and create an environment that allows new clubs to form and thrive. This is the first in that series.
By Elizabeth Usovicz, Rotary International Director, Zones 30 and 31
Rotary connections are powerful, for both current and future members. After 16 months of lockdown, online business and virtual Rotary meetings, I recently met a longtime client for lunch. The restaurant we chose was quiet that day, and the dining area was empty except for one table.
Our fellow diners were two young men of different races. They seemed to be talking about business as my client and I were seated at a nearby table. We didn’t focus on their conversation until our ears perked up like hyper-alert terriers when we heard one of them say, “Rotary.”
Expanding the conversation
My client is a past president of her Rotary club, and we both began to listen in on the young men’s conversation. One was explaining the motto of Rotary, Service Above Self, and the service projects of his local Rotary club. “I have to introduce myself,” I told my client excitedly. She laughed as I slid out of my chair and moved toward their table.
They looked up, surprised, when I approached them. “Excuse me,” I smiled. “My colleague and I heard you say “Rotary” and we wanted to introduce ourselves.” I pointed to my lapel pin. “We are both Rotary members too!”
Each One, Bring One – and beyond
As it turns out, one of the men, Jeff, is a member of the Rotary club of Lee’s Summit, Missouri. He was discussing Rotary with Jordan, a prospective member.
Jordan grinned in amazement at our Rotary connection, which happens every day for Rotary members across the globe. “Wow!” he said. “You mean people in Rotary just find each other like this?” My client, Jeff, and I each smiled. “We all serve,” I replied. “We are people from all backgrounds, all walks of life, and we all serve our communities.”
That brief exchange was a simple, yet powerful moment of Rotary pride and purpose for three Rotary members. For Jordan, it was an impressive example of the strength of the Rotary network and our capacity to connect people across communities.
Each one of us is a role model for growing Rotary
Since that lunch meeting, Jordan has visited Jeff’s club twice and is on the path to becoming a member. Jeff’s support of the Presidential Initiative, “Each One Bring One” prompted me to reach out to three prospective members.
What if each of us did the same? What if each of us encouraged the formation of a new club? By this time next year, our Rotary network and our capacity to connect people across the globe will be even more powerful. All we need to do, like Jeff, is to be a role model for Each One, Bring One. Find your Jordans and invite them to lunch.
Read President Shekhar Mehta’s July message about Each One, Bring One
About the author: Elizabeth Usovicz is a member of the Rotary Club of Kansas City-Plaza, Missouri, USA, and Rotary International Director for Zones 30 and 31. She was a Rotary International Women of Action honoree at the White House in 2014.