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Mentoring and Retention


PDG Stephen Humphreys, Assistant Rotary Coordinator —

I know why I joined Rotary and your reasons are probably very similar to mine.

Article by PDG Stephen Humphreys, Assistant Rotary Coordinator

I wanted to ‘’give back’’ to my community both locally and internationally, and I also saw Rotary as an opportunity to make a new group of friends.

So why did I stay and why do so many people new to Rotary leave within one or two years of joining a club? Why are member losses in those early years so high?

The statistics are quite alarming. In some clubs we are losing up to 20% of new Rotarians within the first 12 months of joining and an even greater number within the first 2 years.

And it is not just in those first 2 years that we are losing members. At all stages, 3 to 5 years, 6 to 10 years and over 10 years there is a continuous loss of members. The age demographics of many clubs is certainly contributing to the member losses at the higher end but there are other factors which we must address. It would seem that we are not meeting the needs and expectations of members at all stages of the Rotary journey.

New members need to be made to feel a part of their new club, be given information about the broader aspects of Rotary, we need make sure that we can meet their expectations and we need to ensure that they are aware of the expectations placed on them.

In our headlong rush for new members are we following a sound and welcoming integration process? A mentoring program should be in place to ensure this is happening. Make them feel that they are a part of the Rotary family. Ask and listen to what your new club members say about their experience, help them find where their passion might be within Rotary, and then work with them to ensure that passion is met.

Most new Rotarians will make a decision about whether to stay in Rotary within the first couple of months of becoming a member. The mentors should make sure that they are welcomed at meetings by other members and invite them to attend club projects or events. One of the best ways to build the tie between your club and a new member is through club service projects. That is probably why they joined. Doing good in the world can be quite habit forming and member engagement is one of the keys to retention. Ensure that your meetings are well organised with a structured speaker program. You don’t want a new member feeling that their time is being wasted.

Make time to reimagine your club and get back to grass roots community-based projects in which members can get personally involved.

A healthy club focuses equally on membership growth and membership retention, and now is an ideal time to look at your club’s approach to both areas.