Just as the picture depicts, our membership numbers in the district are at crisis point. This is certainly not to blame any one person, club or challenge. We have arrived here as the consequence of our lack of action, and acceptance that we have a problem. In a 12-Step program (like Alcoholics Anonymous) they tell you the first thing you must do is to admit that you a problem. Well folks, we have a problem.
This is not to say that some of our clubs aren’t doing great, in fact some are on FIRE! Visit the current District 5630 Membership Chart below to see how your club is performing.
There is also a great Rotary tool you can use in your club, called the Rotary Club Health Check.
Every club has plenty of potential for Growing Rotary Membership. It is as simple as 1) admitting you too have a problem, 2) accepting the fact it can be better and 3) inviting some new faces to join you. If we waited for complete strangers to just walk through the doors of our Rotary meetings, we would certainly not have survived for 115 years as an organization.
So how can you, one individual Rotarian, make a difference?
First – Take a realistic look at your current club members. Are they all just like you? Of course they’re not. Start by creating a list of 5 to 10 potential members (family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, community leaders, etc.). Are the mayor, police chief, fire chief, school superintendent, hospital CEO, car dealership salesman, co-op manager, librarian, seed dealer, insurance or real estate brokers members? If the answer is no, invite them! They might join, but not if you don’t ask. It might be the obvious choices we are not even considering for membership.
Who is missing from your club?
Look at your professional classifications in your community. Are there any other professionals (insurance, automobile, legal, medical, real estate, agricultural, graphical, grocers, eco, domestic, etc.) whom you can invite to talk about their vocation? I’ll bet there are plenty. Write them down, compile a master list. Write out a personal invitation on a card and send it to them. Follow up with a personal visit, invite them to coffee or call them. They might not even be aware they are welcome to join. They may not have ever been invited. So quit procrastinating and Just Do It! (to borrow a phrase). And don’t forget to ask people to join in on your club projects. Invite them to your social events. These are a great way to just relax and get to know each other better.
Second – Consider forming a Satellite club in a nearby town or village, on a different day, around a specific cause or at a member-rich location (hospitals, schools, colleges, plants, retirement communities). These missing members are all over the place, but they might not be able to join you on the day or times you regularly meet. So go meet them at their time, at their location. Smaller pockets of members can be an integral part of your club and might be able to join you on your projects.
I have created a map of community opportunities – towns close to our club communities where there is no Rotary club. On the map I have marked 14 “target” communities with a green rectangle.
The No. 1 reason people join Rotary is to do LOCAL Service. They need to learn what Rotary is all about through service to their own community. Communities need and want service opportunities for their own residents. Rotary can fill those shoes.
Our mission is broad and flexible. We can (and should) extend the hand of friendship from Rotary to these neighboring towns. Schedule a community Town Hall and social evening in these communities. Invite residents for pizza, burgers, brats with beverages (soda or beer) and discuss what needs and opportunities Rotary can help meet. These smaller satellite clubs will be autonomous, with their own leadership, conducting their own fundraising, developing their own ideas and projects, but will count in your club member numbers! Plant the seed and it will grow. I bet that many of you already live in these neighboring communities, so you can be our CHAMPION for Rotary!
The district wants to help with the planning, advertising, logistics, funding (food and travel expenses) and the support for these new members. On the district website Resources Page, you will find tools for Satellite Clubs. Check out these helpful guides. I’d be interested in hearing what you think about these tools.