Engaging Younger Professionals
Enhance your club’s culture
There’s a disconnect between how we see ourselves and how we’re seen by others. To the outside world, Rotary is viewed as an exclusive "old boys' club" that lacks diversity.
We need to change that perception to attract younger professionals.
We’re not old-fashioned. We need to talk about ourselves as we are: a modern membership organization that creates social change.
We also need to give ourselves a reality check: Are our clubs delivering on this promise? Are they vibrant and energetic? Or dull and stagnant? Are your members happy and fulfilled? Or dissatisfied or just complacent? Maybe your club needs to be a bit more like the leaders you want to attract and engage. You may need to make changes.
How to improve your club’s culture
Evolution is inevitable. It might be time to revisit how your club operates. But don’t discredit what your club is doing well. Show off what you’re proudest of so you can attract others who will help you do more of it. If you aren’t satisfied with the way it is now, or if you worry what it will be like if it continues its current course, you can change its direction.
10 action items to consider for your club
1. Remake traditions. Some traditions, like singing songs, ringing a bell, or reciting the Four-Way Test to start a meeting may be confusing and unwelcoming to guests. Try playing music in the background as members and guests arrive and socialize.
2. Update your lingo. Consider changing the way you talk about Rotary. You’re more than just a Rotary “club.” Show prospective members that you are more than meetings -- tell them about your service projects, networking and leadership development opportunities, and social events.
3. Don’t be afraid of social media. It’s where younger generations live and where they check in every day, if not every hour. If you haven’t already, create and maintain a social media presence for your club that shows prospective members what you’re doing and how they can get involved.
4. Reduce the cost of membership. The expense of Rotary can be a big turnoff. Be transparent about the breakdown of dues to the club, the district, and Rotary International and costs such as meals. Lower your expenses by rethinking your venue or meal. Instead of an expensive lunch, offer a la carte options or meet at a local pub. For more information, visit rotary.org/flexibility.
5. Provide flexible attendance. People are busy. Instead of requiring your members to attend make-ups, encourage them to attend a meeting online or count their participation in a service activity. Take advantage of flexible meeting policies so members can participate even when their calendars are full. For more information, visit rotary.org/flexibility.
6. Make it personal. Acknowledge and celebrate family and personal events like weddings, children coming into families, and big professional milestones or personal achievements. Make your club family-friendly: consider offering child care or welcoming families to your club events.
7. Assign mentors. Connect younger professionals with club members that match their interests, skills, or professional background. Mentors also benefit by staying engaged, honing their leadership skills, and building meaningful connections with other members.
8. Meet and don’t repeat. Clubs have the flexibility to meet how and when they want so it’s not the same get-together week after week. Make it a unique experience, something exciting that can’t be missed. Change up your meeting location, pique members’ interest about a new, exciting topic, and people will pay attention.
9. Go mobile. Younger professionals are more likely to communicate by text message than a phone call or email. After you’ve connected, stay in touch by text. Everyone texts. You need to, too.
10. More than brochures. Brochures and print materials are only part of your promotional plan. Digital communications are inexpensive, fast, and reach a wide audience.
Ready to take action? First, ask yourself, “How does my club need to evolve?” Then talk to other members about the challenges your club faces and possible solutions. Use the resources below for guidance on everything from reduced fees to flexible attendance to corporate memberships.
Club Health Check
Use the Rotary Club Health Check to diagnose problem areas and prescribe remedies. Download PDF
Membership assessment tools
Discover strategies to improve your club experience for members. Download PDF
Decide how and when you hold meetings, and what member engagement means for your club. See page