Sunday, October 3, 2010

Step 1 of Helping Clubs Attract the Members They Want: Understand the Situation

How can your Rotary Clubs position themselves to attract the Rotarians they want? Zone 33 District Governors in training for 2012-13 grappled with this issue during their training in Naples, Florida with Rotary Coordinator Bevin Wall leading the exchange. In this article, Step 1 of 3.

First Step: Know the Membership Situation and the Key Issues Highlighted in the RI Strategic Plan. 

The Regional Numbers. Zones 33-34 comprise approximately 70,000 Rotarians in the southeast United States, Caribbean Basin and northern rim of South America. During the past 10 years, with the exception of 1 recruitment spike, the Zones together have lost approximately 800-1,200 Rotarians per year, net.

Retention is Key. Of those being lost, most are the "under 5 years in Rotary" category. (See Jan 2010 Zone 33-34 Membership Survey) Retention is poor. From 2005-2009 Zone 33 (SC north to Maryland) Lost 23,372 members and inducted 21,625 members for a 12.02% annual loss. At a 10% retention loss there would be modest growth.

RI's Membership Approach History. In 2001-02 a recruitment campaign occurred in Rotary, leading to a one year increase in members, although all the gains were lost the next year. Since then, the focus has been on retention, but only net loss/gain membership totals have been available from RI. Having the regional retention data for the first time gives us a clearer picture of where the membership battle is being won and lost.

New Emphasis. However, while a good measurement tool for progress, the new RI Strategic Plan shifts the emphasis from counting net Rotarians, to concentrating on strengthening Rotary clubs, focusing service and enhancing RI's public image. It is believed that an emphasis on quality will positively effect retention rates, and stabilize or increase membership numbers. The RI Strategic Plan uses a regional approach to deploy people, structural and materials resources for Governors to help them help their clubs.

Next Article: Step 2 of Helping Clubs Attract the Members They Want: The Key Issue.

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