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Thinking differently for membership


DGE David McPherson —

Establishing a new Club in MY town would detract from MY Club, Right? WRONG.

Article by DGE David McPherson

What’s the Holy Grail of most DGs? To increase membership in their District. Why? Not because of any egotistical reason to say “Look at me, Look at me” (Kath Knight accent) but to increase the IMPACT of Rotary in the District in which their Clubs serve, for Rotary to remain relevant in their communities and to do their bit to prevent Rotary disappearing into oblivion.

Ok, but HOW do you increase membership? We have tried for many years to get members to bring others along, and that works in some Clubs but still we see a slide in membership across our zone as shown in the following diagram:

Membership in Zone 8

So how is it that some Districts in some years can show a significant increase in membership such as with D9640 that between 2017 and 2020 had an increase of over 200 members, including the highest percentage of female members in our zone (38%), the highest percentage of members in our zone under 40 (11%), and, get this, with ZERO loss of members!! Yes ZERO.

So how was this achieved? Well coincidentally or not, they also increased the number of ‘New Style’ Clubs with 9 new style clubs in the last 3 years and 8 Satellite Clubs since 2012. They have Passport Clubs, Satellite Clubs, Corporate Clubs, Networking Clubs, University based Clubs, Cause based Clubs, Rotaract, Rotex, and Interact Clubs.

But of course, establishing a new Club in MY town would detract from MY Club, Right? WRONG.

The research done by RI shows that 88% of members in new Clubs are NEW TO ROTARY. Yes that does mean that 12% must have come from another Club, but it is hypothesized that those 12% of members would probably have left Rotary anyway as they would have stayed in their existing Club if they were satisfied with the membership experience they were getting.

There are plenty of examples of an existing Club starting either a Satellite Club or a traditional Club and both Clubs thriving and benefiting through a greater impact and awareness of Rotary in their community. See Ballina-on-Richmond Club and Lindisfarne Club as just two examples.

Stats also show that the between 2018 and 2020 the 20 highest growth existing Clubs in Zone 8 brought in a total of 252 new members, whereas the 16 new Clubs in the same period brought in over 400 new members.

Experience in our District 9790 has shown that our newest Club Central Murray Sunrise chartered with 32 members in July this year, 15 of whom were new to Rotary and 7 former Rotarians now rejoined. It now has 36 members. This is in a town with an existing Rotary Club of 27. So that 63 Rotarians in a community of 9,300 people.

Advice from the AG and the sponsoring Club member advisor regarding the only satellite club in our District, Rotary club of Mooroopna – Satellite Club, is that those members probably wouldn’t have joined the main club anyway.

Some years ago our District had what was called an ‘Extension Chair’. Well you like I are probably wondering “What on earth is an ‘Extension Chair’?” Well after some investigation I found that the role of that chairperson was to establish new Clubs in that District.

This role has been more successful in some Districts than others however now that RI have made it easier to establish New Style Clubs, I have decided to establish in our District in 2022-23 a New Styles Development Chair.

Bill Porter from the Mooroopna Club has kindly agreed to take on this role with the aim of following in the footsteps of other Districts who have established Clubs that are both traditional and New style Clubs.

I have heard all the negative comments regarding establishing new style Clubs. How they won't last and it's all just a ‘flash in the pan’, and its putting ‘quantity’ ahead of ‘quality’, etc. etc. etc.

But one thing is absolutely guaranteed, if you do nothing, then nothing will change. We will continue to see membership decline and Rotary will eventually disappear from the landscape of our communities.

Paul Harris; Changing World
OUR CHALLENGE!  "The secret of change is to focus your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new". - Socrates