Membership Corner - August 31, 2015

Who Shall We invite To Join Rotary?
By Tom Sturiale
Who would we like to join Rotary and how do we find them? Why were we selected? How did we happen to join Rotary? Has the process changed over the years? Are new members beating a path to our doorstep?
On a personal note, I learned of Rotary as a high school senior in Oneonta, New York, when several of us were invited to a meeting of the local Rotary Club. We were impressed with the caliber of the members. They were dressed in suits and ties and represented the movers and shakers of the town – doctors, lawyers, business men (no women members in 1953), educators, bankers, accountants and several others. I thought someday I might be a Rotarian.
Somehow, 51 years flew by while I served in the U.S. Navy, attended college, pursued a career, raised a family and retired a couple times. In 2004, I wanted to become more engaged in the local community and to meet folks outside my work environment. So I called the Membership chair of the Rotary Club of Framingham, inquiring about membership. I was admitted, became involved, and have enjoyed the experience, achieving great personal satisfaction ever since.
New members may not be beating a path to join Rotary for a variety of reasons. We welcome those who do, but we also may have to step up our game, take the initiative and become more action-oriented in attracting new members.
I have suggested in previous articles that each club create a target list of prospective members involving all members of the club.  Of course, we need to consider our club’s vocational, ethnic, gender and age makeup as well as our desired mix of members. Then, we can more appropriately target the folks we would like to have as members.
We all know folks from many walks of life – professionals, businesses, corporations, local politicians, trades people, educators, clergy, retirees, etc., who may be good prospects. During your club's assembly meeting, conduct an interactive session to poll your members for names of folks they know. It does not have to require either a personal recommendation or a personal contact - although either would be desirable. It is more important to just get the names. 
What about all the past, present and planned speakers? Consider targeting your future speakers list as prospective members. How about all your past members who may consider rejoining Rotary? Every club has a variety of fundraiser projects and charitable activities, during which they establish contact with hundreds of folks, many of whom may be great Rotarians. What about the dozens of RYLAns, ESSEX students, scholarships, Interactors and Rotaractors of the past many years? While many have moved on, several have returned to their hometowns and become prominent citizens. Have you kept track of these young people?  Imagine how they would feel getting a call from a Rotarian asking them about their interest in Rotary? Have you considered corporate memberships?
This is not an easy task and requires some real leg work. But it is an essential task in an effective membership process. We can continue to go on willy-nilly, adding members on an unplanned basis, but an organized approach will lead to a more effective club membership and contribute to a long-term membership process. Obviously, clubs need to grow at a pace that makes sense to them, but also the fear of growing too rapidly may be ill-founded. Clubs could consider satellite clubs, sunrise clubs, e-clubs, and cocktail-hour clubs for young professionals.  Would it not be more desirable to have more members than we planned on rather than the alternative?
It would be very helpful to many clubs to learn how some of the more successful clubs develop their target lists.  Please send your ideas and they will be summarized and distributed to all clubs. E-mail them to me at 
Tom Sturiale, vice chair of District 7910's Membership Committee, may be reached at