Does Your Club Have A Prospective-Member Protocol?
By Tom Sturiale
What process does your club utilize to introduce prospective members and new members into the club? \It should be done in a formal and consistent manner of which all members are aware. We should strive to conduct some level of information for Rotary International as well as the specific club and district goals and objectives. 
First-time visitors to the club meetings should be introduced as friends of or visitors to Rotary, not as prospective members. This is to ensure that we are not placing the visitor, and possibly their host, in the difficult or awkward position to make a hurried decision about joining Rotary. The purpose of the visit is to acquaint the visitor with the Rotary club, its members and the nature of the Rotary meeting.  If we do our jobs correctly in terms of education, encouragement and familiarization, the visitor would decide to join Rotary in due time. 
How should we educate prospective members? Some clubs have formalized the process to include class-like educational sessions, including the history and mission of Rotary, the benefits and responsibilities of membership, club objectives and projects, opportunities for involvement, club and district organization, and The Rotary Foundation. Of course, if you are working with just one or two folks, an informal session or two would suffice. Whichever method you choose is immaterial, but it is important that some level of education is imparted. Rotary and the prospective member should have reasonable expectations of each other.
There are several educational tools available from Rotary International, including the Prospective Member Information Kit (423-ENB) and the Prospective Member Video Kit (424-ENB). These include brochures such as "Rotary Basics," "This Is Rotary," "What’s Rotary" and "Welcome to Rotary." There are others that you can look up on the RI website. Your club should order them and have them on hand to distribute to prospective members. 
Every club has a member-retention problem and part of it stems from the lack of Rotary education for new members. Building a solid foundation of knowledge and then getting the new member involved quickly in projects they are interested in will help immensely in retention. 
Now that you have familiarized the prospective new member with Rotary and your club and introduced them to the members, and they are convinced to join Rotary, it is time to induct them into Rotary. It is important that this should be a formal ceremony where the new member is introduced and inducted into the club by a senior member. There are sample induction ceremonies available at the RI website, if you need them. We want to honor new members and make them feel important and needed from the first moment of their membership. You should have all the documents, information brochures, pins, name tags/badges, etc. available at the same time. The sponsoring member should introduce the new members and the new members should be asked to say a few words about their personal and professional achievements. If this sounds like a big deal, it should be! This should be an occasion that new members look back on and reflect on as important event.
Now, the real work of developing a Rotarian begins: mentoring, more education, involvement in club and district activities and projects, introduction to all the members, classification talks, fellowship events, assignment to committees, assignment of responsibilities and engagement across the board. Failure to follow up in all these areas will result in a disinterested and uninvolved Rotarian who will eventually lose interest, fail to attend meetings and finally drop out. So get your act together, attract some new members and formalize your process to bring them into your Rotary club.
Please let me know any ideas, comments and stories about Membership you would like to share. E-mail me at
Tom Sturiale is vice chair of District 7910's Membership Committee.
Here are the Membership Corner articles that were posted during November:
November 30: A Rotary Thanksgiving