Posted by District Governor John May on Aug 10, 2018
As a membership driven organization, members are the lifeblood of Rotary and our clubs.  As of July 1, 2018 our District membership was 2313. We ended last year with only one less member than when we started July 1, 2017.  Kudos to all of you for your hard work this past year.  However, I believe we can reverse the trend that our district and many others have experienced with either declining membership or no growth.  I believe that if we work together and think creatively, we can accomplish this.
There is an article in the August issue of The Rotarian magazine, “Step Right Up!” - by Geoffrey Johnson. The article shares 10 tips that one Rotary Club in Edina, MN did to increase their membership.  In addition, the article highlights five suggestions for increasing membership that I feel are worthy of considering. They are:
  1. Look to young Rotarians for fresh perspectives
  2. Appeal to local volunteers 
  3. Emphasize service
  4. Embrace diversity
  5. Get them in the door
I recently spoke with a young professional in their mid 20’s who had been a Rotarian but left because his job was relocated to another community.  I asked him if he had joined another Rotary Club and he said no.  When I asked why, he told me many of the same things mentioned in the above article – the cost, doesn’t want to commit to a weekly meeting, etc.  However, he is interested in the networking and service aspects of Rotary without the structure that seems to come along with most clubs.
I think this information presents us with the opportunity to develop new clubs that address the needs of this segment of our community.
I found the section, Appeal to Local Volunteers, interesting.  The Roc City Rotary Club in Rochester, New York developed a creative way to showcase Rotary to non-profit organizations in their community.  They describe this as a “service oriented dating game”.  This reminded me of the networking that is developed through Rotary Means Business.
For the past several years we have talked about making our clubs more diverse – increasing membership of people of color/ethnicities and women.  RI President Barry Rassin said that for Rotary to serve our communities well, we need to represent our community in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and background.  Recently District 5150 reached out to their LGBTQ community since they were under-represented and created a new club.  The Rotary Board also approved an LGBTQ Fellowship Group at their June Board meeting.
We need to start reaching out to people who might not know about Rotary or who feel they wouldn’t fit in.  We need to become a more inclusive organization.
Membership recruitment is two pronged:
  1. To continue recruiting new members to keep our clubs vibrant and relevant.
  2. Establish new clubs utilizing new models that attract individuals who don’t fit into our legacy clubs. 
Expanding locations of Rotary clubs is how our district grew in the past and how Rotary International grew and reached into all the corners of the world.
Resources are available to you from the District Membership Committee.