New approach vital to membership growth
Past RI President Cliff Dochterman is author of The ABCs of Rotary. Rotary Images
Potential club members are everywhere. But to get them to join Rotary, clubs must use creativity and imagination, says Past RI President Cliff Dochterman.
"Rotary International leaders keep emphasizing membership growth and extension because Rotary's very survival depends on it," says Dochterman, a member of the Rotary Club of Moraga, California, USA, and author of The ABCs of Rotary, a resource for new members. "If Rotary is to grow, we all must take action."
Dochterman believes clubs can thrive by seeking new members, retaining current ones, and sponsoring new clubs in the community. He offers the following tips:
Seeking new members
Clubs must have a specific plan in place, says Dochterman.
- Use a team approach. Teams should have several members who meet with qualified business and professional leaders to discuss the benefits of joining Rotary.
- Set aside one club meeting per month to be a "visitor day," to which all club members would invite a friend or prospective member.
- Seek out natural prospects, including Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholars, Rotaractors, and Group Study Exchange (GSE) team members.
Retaining current members
"Keeping current club members is just as important as bringing in new ones. The key is to adapt and change," says Dochterman.
- Make sure club meetings, service activities, and social events are interesting, fun, and worthwhile.
- Initiate more hands-on projects so club members will feel that they're making a difference.
- Eliminate 100 percent attendance requirements.
- Be alert to the symptoms that lead to resignation. Club leaders should be considerate to members' personal problems.
Sponsoring a new club
"Don't think about cloning your existing club. The new century of Rotary requires and permits a new vision of fellowship and service," says Dochterman. "It's time to think about sponsoring a new kind of Rotary club." For example:
- A club composed entirely of executives and professionals under the age of 40. The nucleus could be former Rotaractors, GSE team members, and Foundation program alumni.
- A club in an ethnic or minority section of the community, with members who share common economic and cultural interests.
- A club that meets in a shopping mall, airport, high-rise office building, golf course, or other nontraditional but convenient location.
This is the second in a series of articles on membership tips from experts. Read Take steps to keep recession from hurting retention