MEMBERSHIP - THIS YEAR, IT’S GOING TO BE DIFFERENT! Or is it?
We start our Rotary years full of excitement and anticipation at the prospect of the great meetings, great projects and great times ahead of us. The months of July and August traditionally mark our highest levels of enthusiasm for the year, as we settle into our new roles, often on new committees and under new club and district leadership. We’re raring to go, and ready to do what it takes to make our local and global communities better places to live.
Across the district, we often experience our greatest membership gains in the first half of the year, but will this be the year where we remain in positive territory, or will we again be riding the rollercoaster of membership gains and losses, lucky to end up with numbers that are somewhere near those we started with?
This is a pattern that seems to repeat each year, particularly in clubs that are doing things in the same way they always have. Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results”.
With this in mind, we are changing the way we do things at district level. The first change was to form a strong committee of enthusiastic leaders, including our DG, DGE and DGN, to tackle our membership challenges as a team, rather than saddling all of this responsibility with one person.
Our second change was to start working collaboratively with the district Public Relations Committee, so that our messages outside of Rotary across our district reflect our goals for membership development. This includes adopting the Regional Membership Development Plan, so all districts across Australia can make the most of our Public Relations funding to deliver consistent messages across the nation.
But our main change is in mindset. We want to have a strong focus on retention moving forward. We have always been fairly good at getting people into Rotary, but we have not been so good at keeping them. The reasons people leave Rotary are varied, and many such as death, poor health and relocation are clearly beyond our control, but most of the reasons people leave Rotary are entirely within our control.
So if this is to be the year we change our membership outcomes, this needs to be the year we change some of our processes. At PETS earlier this year I challenged every president to allocate one meeting, preferably early in the year, for a club forum. This is a meeting where every member, especially our newer members, must be given the opportunity to have their say about how their club is performing; what we are doing well, and where we could improve. I now challenge each and every member of D9520 to hold your club president to that challenge. We should encourage brainstorming for fresh ideas, and when opportunities for meaningful change arise, give them a try. Maybe it’s time to lose some of those rituals which we partake in for no other reason than “we’ve always done it that way”.
It’s important to remember that we don’t need to lock ourselves in to a new way of doing things. Often the smartest way to approach a new initiative is to agree to a trial period, so we can monitor and review its effectiveness. If it doesn’t work, you can always go back to the old way. None of us tries to fail, but we often fail to try. Let’s be bold and make a commitment to try something new this year. You never know, you might be the Rotarian we keep at the end of the year that we otherwise would have lost.