New clubs hold key to membership growth
Corbett Parker (first row kneeling) and members of the Rotary Club of Houston Skyline, Texas, USA, pitch in on the club's Habitat for Humanity day. Photo courtesy of Corbett Parker
Just two years after completing his Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship, Corbett Parker, 28, started the diverse Rotary Club of Houston Skyline, Texas, USA.
Parker, who studied in the Netherlands in 2005-06, has long identified with Rotary. “I believe that knowledge calls, ultimately, for a life of service,” he says.
After completing law school, Parker took a job as an attorney in downtown Houston, an area where Rotary had little presence. When he talked with local Rotarians to see how he could keep Rotary in his life, he saw an opportunity: Bring Rotary back to Houston’s downtown area, and attract young professionals who work there.
Chartered in June 2008, the club now has more than 30 members, who range in age from 23 to 50 and include Latin and African Americans as well as immigrants from Africa, Eastern and Western Europe, and South America. Five Foundation alumni, including Past District Governor D’Lisa Simmons, also have joined.
Parker, who served as charter president, brought a fresh approach to the club. Meetings take place over cocktails in the evening to accommodate work schedules. Members under age 35 pay lower club dues. Outside meetings, fellowship continues through text messaging and social networking Web sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
The Houston Skyline club is not the only new club playing an important role in membership growth. In many districts, start-up clubs are helping to bridge the age gap that sometimes inhibits younger prospective members from joining. Below are some more examples of newer clubs that are creating their own niche in the Rotary world and helping to build membership:
- On the outskirts of Amsterdam, 21 people gather at De Houten Vier restaurant each week. The newly chartered Rotary Club of Amsterdam-Arena exemplifies the diverse membership that Rotary International leadership has stated is necessary to keep the organization strong. Read more.
- Three former members of the Rotaract Club of Rushden, Northamptonshire, England, came up with the idea to launch a new Rotary club after they had turned 30 and could no longer qualify for Rotaract. The Rotary Club of Rushden Higham has an average age of 32, and all but four of its members are female. Read more.
- A five-year-old Japanese Rotary club is expanding its membership by recruiting Foundation and RI program alumni. The Rotary Club of Kanagawa Shonan, Kanagawa, which began as a gathering of young professionals, was chartered on 15 December 2004 with 23 former Ambassadorial Scholars, Group Study Exchange team members, and Rotary Youth Exchange students. Read more.
- The Rotary Club of Duluth Superior Eco, which spans the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin, USA, is focusing its energies on helping the environment while reaching out to younger members. Read more.
Learn more about starting a new club