Rotary clubs make changes to attract younger members
Members of the Diablo View Rotary Club donate their time by cleaning up the Iron Horse Trail in California. Photo courtesy Diablo View Rotary Club
When Rotarians in Walnut Creek, California, USA, found it difficult to attract young professionals to the area's morning and afternoon clubs, they set out to establish a new club that would accommodate busy, on-the-go schedules.
The Rotary Club of Diablo View (Walnut Creek), chartered in 2009, meets in a local brewery at 5:30 p.m. every Thursday. Club president Jennifer Beeman says the club sets aside time each week for socializing before turning to club business, and that the relaxed atmosphere appeals to younger members.
Beeman was only 24 years old when she became a charter member of the club, and she's now one of the youngest female club presidents in Rotary. The club has 26 members, 90 percent of them between the ages of 25 and 40.
"Because we have younger members, our attitude is different. People have told us how refreshing it is to have young faces behind Rotary," Beeman says.
She says the club carries out many projects in the community so that members have an opportunity to do hands-on service. Every month, for instance, it plans an outdoor project, such as cleaning up nature trails. Younger Rotarians usually have more time than cash at their disposal, she says, so they tend to contribute by volunteering.
The club recruits new members through social media like Twitter and Facebook, and it has a mentoring program to help with retention. All new members are assigned a mentor, who spends extra time with them outside regular meetings.
"The modifications we've made have helped our club appeal to younger professionals and retain them," Beeman says. "They’ve created a high-energy club."
Beeman says clubs must be willing to make a few changes to attract younger members. Here are some examples of what other clubs are doing:
- Through a student membership initiative, the Rotary Club of Hope Island, Queensland, Australia, invites college-age students to meetings and subsidizes the cost to bring a youthful perspective to the club.
- The Rotary Club of Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, has created the 25 Club, a club-within-a-club. The members hold additional meetings, sponsor regular social gatherings, and carry out a number of service projects. The inductees are generally younger, and after a year, they transition into the parent Rotary club.
- The Rotary Club of Crawley, Western Australia, Australia, started a mentoring program that helps new members transition into the club. The club’s average age is now in the 30s.
- The Rotary Club of Bricktown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA, meets in a tavern. First-time guests are treated to two free beverages, compliments of the club. Read more.
- The Rotary Club of South Metro Minneapolis Evenings, Minnesota, USA, meets in the evenings and lowers costs by not having meals. The third meeting of the month is a happy hour/networking event at different locations in the city. The fourth meeting is a volunteering opportunity. Read more.
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