Membership Corner - August 17, 2015

Is Your Club Like A Symphony Orchestra?
By Tom Sturiale
Be careful – it is a loaded question. 
Last week, my wife, Diane Sturiale, and I attended a concert at Tanglewood. It was a beautiful evening and the music was wonderful. I was struck by the contrast of the orchestra before and after the conductor arrived on the scene, with his little, white baton, and it reminded me of some Rotary clubs.
Prior to the conductor's arrival, the various members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra were tuning their instruments and practicing their parts of the concert. It sounded like total confusion – a cacophony of noise being generated by the horns, the strings, the percussions and all the other instruments. One wondered how they ever could play anything akin to music.
Then, magic! The conductor entered stage right, walked to the podium, bowed to the receptive audience, and turned to the orchestra. Total silence. And then the music began. Everyone was in tune and the music flowed from the orchestra to the audience in the shed and far beyond, to all the folks spread out over the lawn. It was simply beautiful!
Have you noticed how some club meetings are totally disorganized. The meetings do not start on time, there is some fumbling with the opening remarks, members are talking in the background, committee chairs do not offer explanation of their activities, club banners or flags are not present, introductions of guests are not crisp, members arrive late and leave early.  Whereas other clubs meet on time, the president is well-organized, the flags, banners and other information are all set up, the bell is polished (buy a tube of Flitz – it is magic for polishing your bell), the pledge is recited, a patriotic song and an invocation are recited, members are polite and friendly and welcoming to guests and new members, committee chairs offer quick, concise reports about their activities, the food and venue are great, there are exciting agendas for future projects and speakers, the speaker is interesting and informative, and the meetings end on time.
 A few days ago, I had the pleasure of speaking to the Rotary Club of Acton-Boxborough about membership.  The meeting, attended by 20 of 30 members, started at 12:15 p.m. sharp with the ringing of the bell, the pledge, an invocation, the Four-Way Test, Happy Dollars, and a couple of reports by committee chairs. Following an excellent lunch at the Boxborough Holiday Inn, there were more committee reports about upcoming events. Then, I had the opportunity to share some membership suggestions. Acton-Boxborough is a very active club with an incredible number of fundraisers and projects –  visit their excellent website for more information. They are certainly like a symphony orchestra after the conductor arrives on the scene. 
When the president rang the bell, the music was soothing to the ear! It was great to see their club brochure describing all their activities and projects. The Five Avenues of Service were clearly explained through all the individual projects within each Avenue. And finally, their newest member has already been tasked with chairing a project. Congratulations Acton-Boxborough – that is how to run a Rotary Club!
Some clubs may be like symphony orchestras before the conductor arrives – total chaos - and many clubs are like the orchestra after the conductor (nee president) arrives on the scene – serene, organized and purposed. How do you rate your club?  Which club do you think prospective or current members would be most interested in joining or staying?  What steps should you consider to improve the nature of your club? Every club should think about what could be done to improve. 
That is the name of game – grow and improve; improve and grow. The better we are, the more we will be able to convince others to join our Rotary cause.
Tom Sturiale, vice chair of District 7910's Membership Committee, may be reached at