Young clubs welcome program alumni into Rotary
Members of the Rotary Club of Kanagawa Shonan at an informational booth during a recent community event in Japan. Many members of the club are program alumni. Photo Courtesy Rotary Club of Kanagawa Shonan
A five-year-old Japanese Rotary club is expanding its membership by recruiting Rotary Foundation and Rotary International 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. The club now has a few members who have not participated in Rotary programs, but it continues to actively recruit alumni.
Club leaders hope their example will inspire other young professionals to join Rotary.
The Kanagawa Shonan club is different from typical Rotary clubs. The average age of its members is 38, and the club dues of ¥70,000 (US$740) are about a third of the dues for other Rotary clubs in Japan. Because many members speak English, they have been able to make contact with clubs outside of Japan and cooperate on World Community Service projects.
The club's first Rotary Foundation Matching Grant project financed the digging of three wells and the repair of a fourth in 2007, helping 10,000 children in the Philippines gain access to clean water. During another international project, club members raised money for young survivors of the 2004 tsunami in Thailand by setting up a booth in their community to sell handkerchiefs that the children had painted.
On the Philippines water project, the Kanagawa Shonan club cooperated with two other alumni-formed clubs: the Rotary clubs of Colombo Reconnections, Western Province, Sri Lanka, and Mandaluyong-Pasig-San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines.
All three share another connection: Lina Aurelio, past governor of District 3800 (Philippines), helped charter the Philippines and Sri Lanka clubs in 2002, and met with Japanese Rotarians during the RI Convention in Osaka, Japan, in 2004. The Kanagawa Shonan club was chartered later that year. Aurelio maintained contact with all three clubs, linking them by e-mail.
A fourth alumni club, the Rotary Club of Osaka Next, Osaka, was formed in 2007. Another, the Rotary Club of Chubu Nagoya Mirai, Aichi, recently received its charter.
Recruiting alumni has been an important focus of Rotary’s membership development efforts. A 2006 report on alumni recruitment from the RI Membership Development Division found that 58 percent of clubs admit they don't recruit alumni, and as few as 22 percent of clubs both recruit alumni and have alumni as members. Only about 3 percent of current Rotarians are program alumni.
The 2007 Council on Legislation adopted changes that made it easier for alumni to become Rotarians.
Adapted from an article in the 2008-09 English edition of The Rotary-No-Tomo , the certified Rotary regional magazine serving Japan.