Why Members Matters Most in Rotary?
Any organization is a living system, where the quality of people in it projects the image and effectiveness of the organization. Rotary is a social as well as humanitarian organization, Rotary’s members are our greatest assets and hence is our first priority within the organization.
RI President Mark Maloney gave a highest statement about Rotary Membership, “Membership is not only the highest priority of Rotary. It is Rotary.”
When our membership is strong:
- Rotary has greater visibility
- Our Clubs become more vibrant,
- Our members have more resources (Time, Talent, Treasures) to help communities flourish.
- Our ability to serve increases with more hands to make a difference with motto “Service Above Self” and “Doing Good in The World.”
Seven “I” Steps to Members’ Attraction and Retention:
1. IDENTIFY well – qualified potential members of your community. These individuals should be professional or community leaders of strong character who have a commitment to service and who can fill up the gaps that exist in your Club in terms of knowledge and experience to move your Club forward, these individuals can be the valuable resources and assets to your Club.
2. INFORM & INSPIRE the potential members identified above with Rotary success stories including how Rotary made a positive impact on your own personal life, how your Rotary Club activities are making a difference to the community, outlining the Club’s service works, and the connection, friendship, leadership and many other opportunities Rotary membership provides.
3. INVITE the prospective members to attend your Club meetings and Club activities to get them familiarized with the Club leaders/members and to provide additional Rotary Knowledge and experience. During the visit, the prospective member should hear a description of:
- Community service efforts and successes
- The international scope of Rotary service and fellowship
- Rotary’s emphasis on high standards of character and integrity
- Rotary’s attendance requirements and the Club’s dues structure
4. INDUCT the new members in a dignified and meaningful manner. If possible, a spouse might attend. The induction ceremony graced by District Governor or any other senior District Officer, should be used as an opportunity to underscore the benefits and responsibilities of being a Rotarian. The induction ceremony should be special and impart a lifelong memory for the new member. It should imprint on the new member an enthusiasm and a sense of a great worthiness for membership.
5. IMBIBE the new members with proper education. Providing an effective orientation for new members through education is vital to their growth as individual Rotarians and will enable them to participate effectively in Club activities. Most members leave the Clubs because they were never really Rotarians in the first place. An argument can be made that 80% of a Club’s membership know very little about Rotary. Education of Rotarians is key to their retention.
The three key elements to an effective orientation include:
- Benefits of membership
- Responsibilities of membership
- Opportunities for service
6. INVOLVE new members in the Club activities such as:
- Serve as a greeter at a Club meeting.
- Give a classification talk at a Club meeting.
- Participate in a Club service project.
- Make-up a meeting at another Club.
- Ask the new member – especially the younger ones – to find two or three other new members from among his/her peer group. When one “sells” the Rotary idea to one’s friends, the member himself/herself becomes stronger and more enthused about Rotary.
7. INCLUDE the new members in the CLUB COMMITTEES, the Club fundraisers, the Club social activities etc. in which the new Club members have interests, passion and experience to contribute. There is nothing sadder in Rotary than to find a letter of resignation because a member didn’t feel “a part “of the Club. Engagement is key to retention of members.
The Club must make certain it has a continuing Rotary education policy in place. This education process is essential for older members as well as newer ones. Research has shown that a positive program of continuing education can help increase a Club’s overall retention rate.