It’s no secret that membership amongst service clubs is down and has been declining in North America for many years.
In our Rotary District of 61 clubs; membership has declined by 475 net Rotarians (or 17%) in the past 10 years. Some of our clubs have fared better than others with membership as 6 clubs have increased their membership ranks, another 10 clubs have maintained their membership levels while 45 clubs have lost ground.
Rotary International (RI) and their Districts have long been concerned about membership erosion and have made it a strategic priority in recent years but yet our membership continues to decline.
While decreased membership has financial consequences for RI and Districts, it has even greater implications for Rotary clubs as it is our club members that do the projects, get the grants, build the structures, cleanup the communities, work the fundraisers, hand out the dictionaries and run the clubs. Without sufficient levels of skilled membership at the club level then the work of ‘the many’ falls onto the shoulders of ‘the few’, which often contributes to burn-out of our most dedicated Rotarians.
My focus as District Governor is entirely on the needs of the D7980 Rotary Clubs with membership being our top #1 priority and not just one of many others.
My leadership approach to turning our membership decline around consists of the following:
- Focusing on member retention through engagement first and recruitment second. There are many reasons why people leave a service organization like ours and all but 2 of them (diminished health or relocation) are largely preventable.
- Assembling a top notch District-wide membership team that is putting together a proactive out-of-box approach membership plan for our clubs under Kathy Chartier’s Chairmanship.
- Dedicating significant budgetary resources towards our membership effort with reserves if more is needed.
- The Governor track (myself, the next 2 District Governors plus iPDG Amey) are all working closely together on the membership issue as we believe that this an important multi-year endeavor and not simply the ‘DG Project of the year’.
- Engaging our 12 Assistant Governors to closely work with the clubs in their area on membership issues.
- We are bringing in RI’s membership Guru, Brad Howard, to work with our President’s during the Council of President’s on October 3rd.
- We have been enlisting the help of many Past District Governors.
The clubs visits have been an eye opener with respect to how clubs are working (or not) on their membership issues. I have received considerable feedback, which I am communicating back to the membership committee.
We will begin implementing our plans in early October and continue throughout the year.
Spoiler Alert: Participants will see the connection between Public Relations and Fellowship to Membership as our program rolls out.
Rick Bassett – DG