By Tom Gump, immediate past governor of District 5950 and a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Edina / Morningside, Minnesota, USA
Rotary’s recently launched Membership Society for New Member Sponsors has created a high level of enthusiasm for bringing new members into our organization and forming new and innovative Rotary and Rotaract clubs. How do you attract new members into your club? Or form a core of people interested in launching a new Rotary club? As someone who has brought in more than 50 new members (Membership Society Gold Level), I want to share a few thoughts.
Know why people join Rotary
A great starting point is to review the research we already have for why people join Rotary. Data from Rotary International’s last global survey shows that a majority of respondents said they joined Rotary or Rotaract for local community service and friendship. Respondents also listed personal growth, professional development, and professional connections as important reasons for joining. With this in mind, it’s good to make sure your club can provide these things, and that you advertise them to prospective members.
You have to Ask!
This might seem obvious. But you know what, if you don’t tell them about Rotary AND ask them to join, most people won’t. The survey showed that more than 85% of new members found out about their clubs because a Rotary member personally invited them. Don’t miss out on the opportunity. Ask your family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and other acquaintances to come to a meeting or event, and then follow up on any interest with an invite to join.
Why I love “Each One, Bring One!”
I find the “Each One, Bring One” initiative of Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta to be brilliant because it focuses on what we can do to grow Rotary now – attract new members. His initiative makes it clear that it’s not just the responsibility of a membership committee of a few people, but every member’s responsibility.
Rotary’s value proposition for individuals
As noted above, we need to be very clear with prospective members about what value we offer them, and then deliver on the promise. The survey results suggest we need to:
- Provide a variety of service projects – both local and international;
- Have engaging and fun social events;
- Host professional development opportunities;
- Offer leadership development opportunities, including our partnership with Toastmasters;
- Connect seasoned veterans with younger professionals in mentoring relationships;
- Provide networking opportunities beyond your club; and
- Make our events easy to bring the entire family to.
Rotary’s value proposition for new clubs
Sometimes the best way to meet prospective members’ needs is to gather enough people with similar ideas to form the core of a new club. The value proposition we can share with them is the ability to join others who share a passion to create lasting change. Why start a new nonprofit venture when you can take advantage of all of Rotary’s resources, it’s long track record of financial stewardship, and its expertise in planning sustainable service projects? The Rotary Foundation provides grant support. Action Groups and technical cadres provide technical support. Members of cause-based clubs can do far more than write a check.
Every member has what it takes to bring in other members. And now, there’s a place to be recognized for it. I look forward to seeing your name in the Membership Society for New Member Sponsors. If I can do it, you can too.
Learn more about the Membership Society for New Member Sponsors. This new program recognizes members who have expanded Rotary’s reach by sponsoring 25 or more new members.