How to identify your club’s membership problem

Rotary Club of James RIver, Richmond, Virginia

Members of the Rotary Club of James River, Richmond, Virginia, USA.

By Richard Cunningham, Rotary Club of James River, Richmond, Virginia, USA

My club is a relatively young club (10 years) and does not carry some of the baggage older clubs do, although we certainly have had our problems. The club had dwindled down to just four members at one point before I transferred into it in 2012.

Near the end of 2012, a small team embarked on a structured and planned process of cultural change. Under the umbrella of “Service-Centered Leadership,” we have been able to achieve some amazing results. The club has grown to 24 members and is on its way to stabilizing at 40 active members, at which time we will look to seed another club.

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Where are all the young members?

Evan Burrell and club

Evan Burrell, left, discusses membership with Rotarians in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Monika Lozinska/Rotary International

By Evan Burrell, a member of the Rotary Club of Turramurra, New South Wales, Australia

As a former member of Rotaract and now a young Rotarian, I get asked quite a lot, “where do we find more young members like you?”

It may seem like young members are as elusive to catch as Pokémon, but with the right strategy and awareness, it’s not that difficult at all. The truth is, they are really all around us. Continue reading

What defines a Rotary club? You choose

John HewkoBy John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary 

What Rotary has achieved over the past century is remarkable. We were one of the world’s first membership service organizations. Rotary members have made a decisive positive impact in our communities and around the world, from helping to draft the UN Charter in San Francisco in 1945, to spearheading the most successful global health partnership in history with the launch of our PolioPlus program in 1985, bringing one of the world’s most feared diseases to the brink of eradication.  Continue reading

How to reach prospective members in the workplace

The Rotary Club of Cayman Island's project team to Guatemala.

The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman’s project team to Guatemala.

By Gina McBryan, a member of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands 

We all have our stories of how we were introduced to Rotary, and for the most part, those stories are positive. I could have been a Rotary member much sooner, had someone approached me.

I’m sure every club encourages their members to bring along guests and sponsor new members. For the past five years I have been a Rotary member, I’ve heard the same words of encouragement from my club leaders. And worldwide, our membership totals have remained stable. This makes me think of that line about the definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results.” Continue reading

How can you make your Rotary club multi-dimensional?

Multi-lifestyle club diagram

A model of the Multi-Lifestyle club approach adopted by the Rotary Club of Harrogate Brigantes’

By Richard Bosworth, a member of the Rotary Club of Harrogate Brigantes, North Yorkshire, England

At the beginning of 2013, I was serving as membership chair of my club when I realized that we needed to do something to slow the loss of membership. Three years later, we have a vibrant and growing multi-dimensional club – we use the term Multi-lifestyle Rotary Club – that is making full use of the digital age and is discovering smarter ways of operating to secure our long-term future. How did we do it, and what do we mean by a multi-lifestyle club? Continue reading

16 ideas for breathing life into your club

Participants in the summit draw their ideas on paper.

Participants in the summit draw their ideas on paper.

By Anabella Q. Bonfa, District 5320 membership chair

How do you breathe new life into your Rotary club? We held a young professional summit recently in southern California, USA, attended by 52 members of Rotary and Rotaract — some new and some with many years of experience — who came together for half a day to share their thoughts. Everyone had fun, and many creative ideas surfaced. Here are just a few:

Plan events that are family-friendly to engage members with young children. Continue reading

What does a Rotary club designed by younger members look like?

Members of the Rotary Club of Metro Savannah

The leadership team of the Rotary Club of Metro Savannah with the author (seventh from left in white shirt).

By Gordon Matthews, past governor of District 6920 (Georgia, USA), Rotary Club of Savannah East

A panel of three young members spelled out for us the issues that block young people from joining Rotary during our spring assembly a few years ago — scheduling, cost of dues, and rules.

I’ve been active in developing leaders in our community and have worked with our Group Study Exchange teams in the past, so I know the energy and potential in this “under 40” generation that we need to tap for Rotary. But I’ve also seen several Rotary clubs try to do this with limited results, because they stayed too close to the traditional model and dues structure. Continue reading

The key to a successful multi-generational Rotary club

Emmanuel Rey

Emmanuel Rey addresses his multi-generational club.

By Emmanuel Rey, a member of the Rotary Club of Villa Devoto, Argentina

In 20 years as a member of the Rotary family, I have learned much. I began my Rotary journey as a member of Interact when I was 12, and six years later moved on to Rotaract. After passing the maximum age of 30 for that program, I proudly became a member of my Rotary club two years ago.

At first, I dreamed of building a big and youthful Rotary club, especially as I observed how hard it was for my fellow Interactors and Rotaractors to bridge the generation gap and become members of Rotary. Continue reading

3 ways to make Rotary personal

Michael Bucca (right) celebrates his wife becoming a Rotary member.

Michael Bucca (right) celebrates his wife becoming a Rotary member.

By Michael Bucca, Membership Chair, Central Ocean Rotary Club of Toms River, New Jersey, USA

Most Rotary clubs would be elated to have the chance to add new members on a regular basis. Many around the world have used traditional recruitment methods such as membership drives, advertising in newspapers, and inviting guest speakers to join. While clubs have success with these methods, there is one key component that helps convert more prospective members into actual members. Continue reading

Surefire ways to welcome new members

New Member Welcome KitBy Wally Bobkiewicz, a member of the Rotary Club of Evanston, Illinois, USA

This year, our club has been working to enhance how we welcome and orient new members.

Through this effort, we learned of a resource available on shop.rotary.org — a New Member Welcome Kit containing just a few items, all of which are updated to reflect Rotary’s visual identity. This kit is intended to be supplemented with club-specific materials that highlight our membership and our impact in the community. Continue reading