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Club innovation: A young club shows the drive to thrive

The Rotary Club of Bentley Cheshire, England, began as a satellite club made up of Bentley Motors employees. 

At the Family Fun Day, club members and kids made clay animals.

In 2015, Mike Constable, then president-elect of the Rotary Club of Crewe & Nantwich Weaver, started thinking about satellite clubs. Around the same time, club President Mark Schofield and Past President Peter Saunders were working to grant honorary membership to Wolfgang Dürheimer, the CEO of Bentley Motors, a major local employer.

Here was an opportunity: Bentley has a diverse, energetic workforce from around the globe. Dürheimer liked the idea that employees could get involved with the Rotary club and become part of the local community. A team from Crewe & Nantwich Weaver began setting up a satellite club, coordinating with Bentley.

Knowing that the Council on Legislation was reviewing membership and meeting rules, Constable and the team gave the satellite club a relaxed set of rules. Members record their hours volunteering and attending club meetings so that their total contribution of time is recognized. After meeting as a satellite for over a year, the Rotary Club of Bentley Cheshire was chartered in May. The membership is largely but not exclusively made up of Bentley employees and represents nine nationalities.

The meetings are very efficient and focused, alternating between a meeting room at Bentley and local pubs and restaurants. “We do not charge for meals or drinks as we don’t always have meals and drinks,” explains club Secretary Sarah Newcombe. “We have our meeting first, then the ones who wish to stay for food do and the others can either stay and just have a drink or can go home. I liken it to a pay-as-you-go phone rather than a contract you are tied into.”

Rotary Club of Bentley Cheshire, England Members: 25 Youngest member: 24 Oldest member: 62 Average age: 43 History: The club started as a satellite of the Rotary Club of Crewe & Nantwich Weaver. Since then, it has supported 38 local service projects such as improving a hospital cancer unit’s garden and running a Family Fun Day to raise funds for a local charity.

The club carefully tracks members’ financial contribution and participation in projects. In 2016-17, it recorded over 1,000 hours of service.

Activities reflect the members’ creative energy. In July, a team including both club members and nonmembers tackled the National Three Peaks Challenge. The team climbed Ben Nevis in Scotland, Scafell Pike in England, and Snowdon in Wales, all within 24 hours. The challenge raised funds for Hope House, a children’s hospice, and the club hopes it will also be a recruiting tool to get those nonmembers on the team to join.

And in November, the club will host the Snow Ball, with UK Björn, an Abba tribute band, getting people out on the dance floor. Conveniently enough, the band manager and lead guitarist, Steve Robinson, works at Bentley.  Other ideas for events include a treasure hunt by car and a Rotary’s Got Talent contest.

Newcombe notes that, in keeping with the club’s origin story, its leaders are focused on growth. “Club President Elena Comis and I have ‘Rotary date night’ each Tuesday where the pair of us will discuss ideas to increase membership and suggest ideas that we can then present to the team at one of our meetings.”

What is your club doing to reinvent itself? 

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Club Innovation

Each month, we bring you suggestions of how to innovate in your approach to membership. See more ideas in previous columns.