One vivid memory of my college days is the ‘30 days book’, which was very popular then; it worked on a simple principle — one can learn any language within 30 days. One month of our ongoing Rotary Year has gone and we have just 11 months left. I am reminded of Robert Frost’s line: “I have miles to go before I sleep”. Much needs to be done and time does not stand still. Many clubs would have inducted new members during the Club President installation programmes. Our impact starts with our members — the people who work sincerely with their clubs to solve some of our communities’ immediate challenges.
Diversity is a source of innovation, as well as one of Rotary’s core values. Having members from different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures give our clubs a broader understanding of the community, its challenges and possible solutions. Apart from growth, we need to work on retention. Rotary International has conducted extensive research globally on the reasons members leave their clubs. The result: Members who leave within the first year do so because they were not fully informed about the responsibilities of membership before joining or were not fully educated about Rotary after joining.
I have seen for myself in renowned clubs, retention rates are higher, as members feel valued because they feel their contribution makes a difference. These clubs do regular classification assessments looking for new classifications that come out of economic and industrial developments in their respective cities. Probably in the early sixties there was no Computer and IT services related classifications. That was the time IBM and ICL entered the country and that was the beginning of the classification called “Data Processing”. Today new classifications are opening up every week with the expansion of industry, trade and technology in different sectors.
Success of retention is not merely retaining members and engaging them. Membership retention is keeping those members involved and excited about the club every day. Plan programmes at least once in two months where the club members interact with one another in an informal ambience and build positive dynamics. This exercise will lead to forming a successful team of Rotarians that knows each other’s strengths and weaknesses well and can support one another.
Let us request fellow Rotarians to identify people they know in their local communities who would be assets to the club — an important step in membership growth. Encourage others to invite prospective members to club meetings, service projects and community events so that they can see how your club helps the community and provides opportunities to form connections and friendships.
Rotary has been making history and bringing our world closer together for over 113 years. It is Rotary’s ethos to serve humanity and bring peace to the world, say goodbye to conflicts and strengthen Rotary by “keeping the Member in Rotary and keeping Rotary in the Member”.
Be the Inspiration, ask Rotarians to inspire each other and together we’ll change the world.
Director, Rotary International