These are points that I feel we should consider strongly as we start our year of membership. Let me know what you think.
How to increase Rotary Membership and retain the members we acquire:
We should emphasize the positive results of membership growth in India, Korea, Eastern Europe and the many new, young Rotary clubs here in North America as examples to others of what can be done to increase new, young members into Rotary.
Most often, the cause of declining membership is that Rotarians themselves, even where changing, positive demographics have had an impact on the area of their Rotary Club, do not invite young people to become an active part of their Rotary fellowship.
There are four levels of responsibility for membership:
1. Rotarians themselves must accept their responsibility for membership
- Rotarians are leaders in their communities and therefore well connected within their community of business and professional leaders, young and old.
- Rotarians are likable and trustworthy leaders with whom others, of all ages, enjoy spending time and sharing opinions and goals.
- Rotary Clubs must provide constant, weekly Rotary information to their members to allow their membership to have confidence and pride in the reasons they choose to be Rotarians. Information about Rotary leadership programs for youth like Interact, RYLA, Youth Exchange, Rotaract, Ambassadorial Scholars and Peace Studies should be emphasized.
Talk about these benefits to local schools and prospective Rotarians has renewed two failing Rotary clubs in our district last year and this was the reason to start a new club in Dryden, NY. Young men and women were pleased to become Rotary members. Young students today want to help others. Helping students to help others is a true power of Rotary.
Rotarians simply must involve themselves in communicating this power. If we do this, young people will come to our Rotary clubs.
- Rotary clubs must provide a team for the new member sponsors; a mentor for each new Rotarian and the club information chairperson to inform new Rotarians of all the details of the power of Rotary.
2. District Governors, starting as governors-elect, must take seriously their responsibilities for membership:
- District Governors Elects (DGEs) must inform their club presidents that they will expect to meet with the club membership chairs to see the list of all club members and the check off list that indicates that each club member has invited someone to join their club; someone preferably less than 50 years of age. All Rotarians must be involved in
inviting young people to become Rotarians.
- Each DGE must expect that club presidents will have a club Rotary information chair to give a “Rotary Moment” each week for Rotary Education. Rotary International should provide such “Rotary Moments” as examples of what can be said. Senior, and new Rotarians, can state why they remain active in Rotary and what they have done in Rotary.
- Each DGE must expect the club presidents will provide each new member sponsor with a club mentor who is an experienced and dedicated Rotarian for the newly sponsored Rotarian to check on the new members and to give them support.
- As District Governor (DG), these requirements must be checked at each club visit.
- The RI President must inspire Rotarians to meet these needs. Rotary train representatives of the RI Membership Committee to check on the progress, and to hold accountable, each district by contact with the DG. Presidential Recognition must be tied to these membership goals and achievements.
3. New Members also have a responsibility for membership:
- Each new member must be expected to invite someone new to join the club during the first year after they join Rotary. This should double the number of new members and also reduce the average age of the club. New members can have a strong influence on the future direction of club activities.
- The new member’s sponsor, mentor and Rotary Education chair must be certain that the new members are adequately educated about Rotary so they can explain Rotary to their prospective new members.