Fight or flight? Those club members or newly inducted Rotarians “who feel dissatisfied with their clubs have a choice either to form a like-minded group to put up a brave fight to change the organisation for the better or take off from there to somewhere else,” said RIPN Stephanie Urchick.
During an online presentation at the weekly meeting of RC Madras, RID 3232, in May with her aide PDG Tom Gump, RID 5950, UK, on the topic ‘Transforming club culture,’ she said people leave the club, not Rotary, “as they don’t feel happy with the product or service they get there. So, they just take off. Hence, club culture is extremely important in engaging new members. It should not be a revolving door.” In fact, the club culture is the force behind Rotary’s global projects and outreach, she said. If a club is doing great projects, its members are contributing to the Foundation, and receiving global grants, “then it is running smoothly with its members united in strength.”
But it is important for clubs to do an in-depth assessment of their members; ascertain their interests and what they want to do primarily in Rotary. “The survey must find out why they are dissatisfied in the first place, to know if there is a problem that needs to be fixed,” said Urchick. Embracing change and diversity is one sure way to attract youth looking for a different set of experience, she added.
Start new clubs
New cause-based clubs would enable Rotary to grow quicker, said PDG Gump. Adding to that, Urchick said, “such clubs will retain new members longer, and attract youngsters of diverse professions. Rotarians must be change champions and catalysts to take Rotary forward.”
Explaining the five facets of Rotary’s Change Model, Urchick said, “assess (the members and their problems), design (the club’s vision of success), build (a communication strategy), implement reforms (nurture members who are resistant to change and respond to them thoughtfully), and finally, sustain growth (by putting structures in place, and investing in technology). As long as Rotary’s core ideology of service, fellowship, and the Four-Way Test are retained, “we can be flexible to meet the needs of the youngsters,” said Tom Gump.
RC Madras immediate past president Jayshree Sridhar said that as the third oldest club in the country, after RCs Calcutta and Bombay in that order, her club would be entering its 95th anniversary next year. The legacy club inaugurated on May 10, 1929, and chartered in July that year, “has pioneered the Red Measles Programme in 1979 and the Polio Eradication Initiative in 1985.” Around 140 Rotarians from across the world attended the online meet.