Thursday, October 30, 2008

Governor-Elects Talk Membership in Paradise

The District Governor Elects for Zone 33 enjoy a Membership Exercise with RRIMC Bevin Wall during the Governor Elect Training Seminar (GETS) held October, 2008 on Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas.  GETS training is to prepare DGEs for their further training in San Diego CA USA in January 2009. Life must be really hard! Enjoy these pictures.   

It's the Economy, Stupid! & Its Effect on Rotary Club Membership!

I share some insights from Judy Beard Strubing, RRIMC for Zone 23, on the recent economic downturn and the pressure it is placing on Rotary Clubs in the membership area. This is equally applicable to us in Zone 33!  

We’re hearing reports that some areas of North America are experiencing resignations from Rotary due to the economy.  Because the reports we get from RI are often delayed, we have no way of checking to see if this is true for the districts in our Zone.  (We're also advised that another aspect of this is that we may experience a pull back in giving to TRF.)

This is one of those critical times to work together.  I'm asking seven things of you..........

1.  Please check the district records to see if the economic situation is affecting membership numbers in your district.  Are there areas that are being particularly hard hit?  Industries that are being affected?

2. Talk with the clubs about sensitivity to those who might be feeling the pinch because of company cutbacks. Offer ways to help the clubs identify those who may potentially leave and be sure those members feel their membership has value and a special meaning to them - i.e. engagement and involvement.  (Businesses may also begin to cut expenses and may not subsidize their employee's dues and/or sponsorship of Rotary events.  This could have a huge effect on our clubs. )

3. Consider the "New Generations" or “After Five” model in setting up new clubs, which can mean a less expensive approach to meals and venue.  Some clubs may also wish to consider converting to this model.

4. Be creative!  Dues are not the big expense – food, fines and contributions tend to be what our members find expensive.  Consider some of the following:

·        5th meeting of the month – “brown bag” at the business of one of the members – make it a Vocational Day.

·        Meet and eat with Interact Club at school – good for connection and communication with our young future Rotarians and school lunches are cheap!

·        Picnic at a local park during the summer.

·        Are there less expensive meeting venues?  How about Churches or other town meeting halls?  Meals can be “brown bag” or Sub sandwiches.

·        Talk with the restaurant about simpler lunches, i.e. soup and sandwich.

·        Re-evaluate “fining.”  Ask each member twice a year for their estimate of personal club fines for that period.  Encourage “Happy Dollars” as an alternative.

·        Look for hands-on projects to give members alternatives to just writing checks.

·        Consider setting up “Rotary First Harvest” as a district/club project – great for hands-on and community involvement.

·        Consider joint project with County Extension (or whatever group in your community) to teach young families how to do things for themselves: gardening, canning, sewing, home repairs, carpentry (all the things our schools are no longer able to teach.)

·        Big Foundation Gala a tradition?  Consider instead a “Subsistence” Dinner (based on a typical Third World meal) with a minimum donation for dinner, but a great program inviting contributions to TRF.  Money goes to TRF instead of to a fancy meal and evening for the attendees.

 5.  Friendship and socializing is an important part of Retention.  Plan simple monthly events, i.e. “First Friday” – keep it inexpensive and be creative.

    • BYOB drinks and appetizers
    • Potluck dinners
    • Desserts and games
    • Super Bowl Chili Party at one of members’ home (or several homes if your club is larger.)
    • Mystery dinners
    • High School ball games
    • Costume parties
    • Access to a farm?  Hayrides, barn dance
    • Pumpkin Carving party
    • Christmas Tree cutting with hot cocoa and cookies afterward
    • Divide into 12 groups and each group draws a month for which they’re responsible in coming up with a fun and inexpensive social event.

6. Keep your radar tuned to any signs of difficulty.

7. Call your RRIMC for assistance, information or ideas -- that's my job!

If we approach this in a proactive way, we may cause a member to put resigning from Rotary or cutting on Foundation giving further down on that list of where they will cut corners!  

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

District 7600 Rotarians Play Membership Jeopardy

Regional RI Membership Coordinator (RRIMC) Bevin Wallwas a featured speaker at the District 7600 Conference held in Portsmouth, Virginia on October 3-5, 2008. 

Rotary Jeopardy was the game, and involved scores of Rotarians from the district during the session, even DG Bill Pollard, who eventually had himself banished to the back of the room for offering his club an "unfair advantage".  

The game ended in a tie, as tallied by our "FluVANNA" scorekeeper. 

The game is in a Powerpoint format and is available on this site for download by clicking here.  

More pictures from the Conference are available at the District 7600 Photo Album.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Membership Ground Zero - The Club

Business, professional, and community leaders know that accountability for adhering to common fundamentals is necessary for success.  They also know that lack of accountability generally leads to failure.  At Membership Ground Zero – the Club – EFFECTIVE Rotary clubs generally do not have Membership Development problems because they practice fundamentals and set expectations as their form of accountability.

Fundamentals are used because they have proven to be dependable.  For over one-hundred years, effective Rotary clubs have successfully applied fundamentals to strengthen Membership.  But what fundamentals?

  •  The reason Rotary clubs exist is to advance the Object of Rotary.
  • The First Object of Rotary is to Develop Acquaintance as an Opportunity for Service (Membership Development.)
  • Rotary is an organization of business, professional, and community leaders, active or retired, who have discretionary use of their time.
  • Business, professional, and community leaders are not accustomed to mediocrity, associating with anyone who accepts mediocrity, or being involved with mediocre organizations.
  • People join Rotary for their reasons, not the club’s or the invitee’s.
  • People join Rotary to get to know, or get to be known by, like minded individuals – to network.
  • Members stay in Rotary because they are satisfied.

Membership Ground Zero – the club.  In preparing or refining Membership Strategic Plans, consider instituting ways and means of inspiring, encouraging, and equipping members to be accountable for practicing fundamentals.  Imagine what could happen if membership committees had in their membership toolbox information that came from these, or similar, fundamental questions:

  1. How many Rotary information meetings (fireside chats) for non-Rotarians did the clubs hold the previous month?
  2. How many potential member business, professional, or community leaders who have discretionary use of their time were at the information meetings?
  3. What was the club’s average attendance percentage last month?
  4. How many members resigned last month?
  5. How many of the members that resigned had been in Rotary less than three years?
  6. Why did they resign?
  7. How many new members were inducted into the club last month?

Imagine this chain of events: The club membership chair gathers this information each month and reports it to the club’s Board of Directors.  The Board of Directors discusses the information and takes action as necessary.  At the next weekly membership meeting, the club president gives a brief report and recognizes the Membership Committee for a job well done.

This simple accountability system would be a way to keep Membership Development fundamentals in the minds of all at Membership Ground Zero and would lay the foundation for improving the club’s ability to satisfy their customer – the club member.  And we all know that satisfied customers attract others.

 (For more information, or setting up sample Excel spreadsheets, contact Jim at

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Past Presidents Membership Challenge

President Randy Yokum of the Newport News VA Club in District 7600 shares the following strategy:  

My membership goal for the club is to have 8 new members by 12/31/2008.  That’s a 20% increase in our role from 6/30/09.  Our program is called “The Past Presidents Membership Challenge”.  I have selected 8 of our clubs past presidents and assigned 4 club members to each team.  The challenge is for each team to bring in one new member by 12/31.  In addition, I’m meeting the challenge by bringing in one new member myself.  My target is 9 new members this calendar year!  The Past President is also responsible to make sure that his team members are regularly attending our weekly meetings.

Contact President Randy at 

Plan to Make Membership Month Last All Year

As the official Rotary Membership Month of August recedes into the rear view mirror of the Rotary year, I'll make a quick few observations as Regional RI Membership Coordinator for Zone 33. In a nutshell, hard work and planning are paying off for many districts, but the emphasis must continue to be successful.
Districts have done a superb job in conducting Membership events throughout the Zone, whether stand-alone events, multiple events,
 or in conjunction with other activities. Our District Governors, Membership Chairs and their teams are to be congratulated. Director Eric has been very supportive of President D.K. Lee's renewed call for membership action.      
The message that Rotary must grow to thrive (and survive) is being well articulated, and Rotarians are hearing the message. However, as we all know, Rotarians hearing a message, and Rotarians acting on the message are two distinctly different things. Remember Frank Devlyn's "Create Awareness, Take Action" theme- we must have both the awareness and the action! Two out of three words in this year's theme cry out for action. "Make" is an action word, and in it's position at the beginning of the phrase make it declarative! "Real" refers to reality, the way that things actually exist! MAKE DREAMS REAL!  
A roadblock to effective action, the "80/20" Rule, is still in effect at the club level, and this is a pivotal challenge. If the dynamic at the club level does not improve, then the rates of retention and recruitment will not improve. 
Clubs and Districts that have a plan, and institute a system of definable actions specific to their assessed recruitment or retention needs are those that are seeing positive membership growth. A successfully implemented plan requires member "buy-in", incremental measurement of success, and recognition.
Membership Strategic Planning was the emphasis for all District Membership Teams attending the Regional Membership Training Seminar in Evanston in June. Now, this planning emphasis is trickling down to the club level. 
Club Visioning Teams to assist clubs with strategic planning are now available, at a club's request, to come into the club and work with their leadership to help set goals, and to define measurement and success. Clubs must make a serious commitment to changing the current dynamic, and taking the next big step toward realizing their potential as Rotary Clubs and their place in their community. Experience Facilitators from The Rotary Leadership Institute are conducting these sessions. Clubs are welcome to explore this opportunity. For more information contact me at
Planning is an important step to productive and forward looking action, but it is not "action". As Leaders of Rotary, the 2008-09 "Dream Team" must continue to work the plan, and keep a results-oriented eye trained on the short-term and long-term horizons of Rotary membership. For us, "short-term" should be a monthly assessment through the end of June 2009, with adjustment of the plan in January, as needed. "Long-term" should be measured annually, with a duration of no more than 3-5 years out, and must involve successive years leadership.
We must break the mold. As the saying goes, "If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got!" In membership, let's together move our clubs beyond what we've always done, and we will see more opportunities for service and fellowship than ever before.

Bevin Wall, Zone 33 RRIMC  

Latest Membership Minute is out

In this month's edition of Membership Minute: 
  • Raising Public Awareness to Generate Interest in Rotary Club Membership 
  • PR Resources for Clubs 
  • Using Technology to Enhance Your Clubs Public Image 
  • Links to Membership Statistics and Publications
Subscribe for email delivery and view past issues at Membership Minute