Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of blog posts for Membership Month where experts share how they reach out to prospective members, keep existing members engaged, and create an environment that allows new clubs to form and thrive.
By KR Parthasarathy, assistant governor of Rotary District 3150 (Hyderabad, India)
Doing something good in the Rotary world has always been my passion. The reach and access that I was afforded as an assistant governor in my district in India made it possible for me to reach my goals.
My endeavor to grow Rotary in my region began with an idea to revive our 52-year-old community based Rotaract Club of Secunderabad. It was chartered in April of 1968 and is one of the oldest Rotaract clubs in the world. Until the last few years, the club was slumbering with not much activity and not a lot of member engagement. We started at the top, revamping the leadership and bringing in passionate and active people. We were then able to induct 30 new members and discover ways to get them involved in voluntarily community services activities that they were proud to participate in.
Pursue membership leads
The membership leads which I received as an assistant governor greatly helped me in connecting with many young prospective members as well as some older ones, and students and entrepreneurs who were keen to learn more about Rotary. Once I followed up (always follow up on membership leads!), they wanted to be part of our great organization. One such extended interaction involved a medical student, Ms. Kaanthi Rama, who was studying to get her degree at Gandhi Medical college in Secunderabad. Getting to know her opened the door to many others she knew, and we were able to form the Rotaract Club of Secunderabad Medicos with about 70 members.
Rama, who became club president, was so inspired and motivated about Rotary, that she and her members decided to form a community based club instead of a university or college-based club so they could continue to serve Rotary even after they graduated.
Although Rama wanted to add more members from other medical colleges, I persuaded her to help form new clubs at other colleges. This resulted in two new Rotaract clubs – Osmania Medical College with 138 members and Apollo Medical College with 130 members. This added an astounding 350 new members to Rotaract for the first time in the history of our district.
I had a similar long and deep conversation with Ms. Bhuvansehwari, an engineering student in Hyderabad, who was looking to join Rotaract. After continuous follow-up discussions (always follow up your initial membership conversations), I was able to motivate her to form a group of like-minded individuals to form the Rotaract Club of Go-Getters with a membership of 25 young women, thus creating the first all-female Rotaract club in our district.
Chartering a Rotary club as a governor’s special representative was a bigger task. But thanks to the great support I received from our membership chair, Srinivas Peddi, I was able to assemble 29 members in various professions, with an emphasis on having at least a third of them be women. It took three months of exhaustive conversations and motivational talks, but the result was the Rotary Club of Secunderabad New Horizon. (I chose that name to symbolize the new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic). It was the first club in nearly 20 years sponsored on behalf of my club.
I leave you with these thoughts. Use your connections in leadership to arrange talks with prospective members. Follow up on leads you receive. Motivate those people to get the people around them excited. And persistently follow through. It can be a fair amount of effort, but the satisfaction of seeing our organization grow and add new members is definitely worth it.
Take the Online Membership Leads course to learn how a prospective member experiences the membership leads process, and how club and district leaders can create a consistent, positive experience for prospective members.