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PDG Debbie Loveday, Assistant Rotary Coordinator —

Ever thought of changing the status quo, reinvent and become a vibrant exciting club, which meets the needs of future new members?

Article by PDG Debbie Loveday, Assistant Rotary Coordinator

Are you a member of a dinner club? Do you still follow the traditional style Rotary agenda? Ever thought of changing the status quo, reinvent and become a vibrant exciting club, which meets the needs of future new members?

I suspect that we have all taken part in membership satisfaction surveys, where the same old culprits of dissatisfaction raise their ugly heads, namely meals, and lack of communication.

How many times have you been to a meeting and the evening wraps up and you cannot remember what Rotary business was discussed or how you contributed?

Has the meal become the focus of your Rotary meetings? Are members frustrated? They joined Rotary to volunteer in projects to help their local community. A mid-week evening meal out might not fit in with their family, work or lifestyle commitments. Young professionals, parents and those working are time poor.

If the Club chooses to meet at a sports club or other, the venue is chosen because of its central location and ease of access for members. It is usually open daily and can supply a room to meet, plus meals, tea and coffee and a bar.

It seems to me that sometimes the focus of the meeting is lost in the social ambiance of enjoying a meal. There can be more fellowship than Rotary business.

In the past two years when the COVID pandemic restricted us to online meetings, there was no meal to complain about. Communication was key to keeping people connected and invested in the ideal that is Rotary.

Now we are back and eager once again to meet face to face. Eager to get involved in doing good in our communities. However, we are still faced with the number one challenge that is the meal. Costs have gone up, quality not improved, and now staff shortages. Things appear to be worse than before.

I say remove the meal!

A meal can be optional after the meeting. This allows for fellowship and really getting to know members of your club. This may seem drastic, but just think about it.

Have an hour’s business meeting that is Rotary focussed and that all members can contribute to the club program and projects. This is great for team building, getting everyone involved and included.

Membership retention is key. When I joined 12 years ago, it was important to find everyone a role to play in the club. Involve members by seeking their opinions, engaging them in conversation. Diversity of members brings a new dimension to the discussions and avoids group think. If members are included, feeling they belong must surely follow.

If you want to attract new members, maybe a younger professional demographic then a one-hour meeting from 6-7pm may suit these people well. Imagine a vibrant diverse club that has re invented itself by changing the program format. A team focussed on positive creative discussion, people of action.

Paul Harris said, ““If Rotary is to realize its proper destiny, it must be evolutionary at all times, revolutionary on occasion.”