Membership Corner: Are speakers potential Rotarians?
By Tom Sturiale
Most of the Rotary clubs in our district invite a speaker to our weekly meetings. What criteria do we use to invite these folks into our clubs? Of course, we are interested in learning about many different subjects. We may have speakers from various charitable organizations, local government representatives, business leaders, bankers, lawyers, doctors, accountants, or a whole host of folks from many different career fields. If each of the 52 clubs have 30 or so speakers each year, we would have upward of 1,500 opportunities to meet, observe and partially vet many potential Rotarians.
Obviously, many of these folks either may not have any interest in Rotary or may not be a good fit for Rotary. But it strikes me that it is possible to develop a membership strategy based on a careful targeting of speakers.
This may be of particular significance to smaller clubs that may be having a difficult time in adding new members. One possible scenario might be for the club leadership and membership chair, who may be one and the same in small clubs, to think about the types of people they would like to have in their clubs.
Consider the classifications you have in your club and those you would like to have. Consider the various projects you have supported in your communities and those you may support in the future.  Consider the characteristics of your clubs and how you might strengthen it for the future. Develop a membership strategy aimed at filling talent and experience gaps in your current membership. Then, develop a target list of speakers from those classifications you would like to add to your club.
Often, we invite speakers to our clubs to fill up the schedule rather than as a strategic move. Rotary is a powerful draw to folks who want to speak to our clubs. The speaker event is an opportunity for the club to meet, observe and partially vet the speaker and for them to be introduced to Rotary. 
Larger clubs rely on different members to chair the membership effort and the speaker events. Club leadership should ensure there is cooperation between those two separate efforts. There may be specific membership targets that may be achieved through careful selection of speakers.
Speakers represent a great opportunity for us to expand and strengthen our clubs. Think about it. Plan it. Try it.
Closing thoughts
We need to keep experimenting with our meeting agendas to maintain members’ interests and to encourage attendance. Meetings need to be fresh, exciting and interesting. This will also assist your club’s Membership Committee chair and members in attracting new members to the team. Please let me know of your 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 January: