Membership Corner: What is the vision of your Rotary club?
By Tom Sturiale
The time for annual revitalization of our Rotary clubs is rapidly approaching.  All the new presidents will attend pre-PETS (Presidents-Elect Training Seminar) and PETS.  They will learn a great deal about Rotary and gather considerable information about how to guide their clubs through the next year.
Despite the training, many presidents-elect will begin their year wondering how they will conduct their club throughout the coming year. While being president of a Rotary club is an honor and an exciting experience, it can also be a daunting challenge.  Some clubs do not have a steering committee and a long-term plan that new presidents can rely on for guidance – especially, during the critical first few months of their term.
Three years ago, District 7910 began an ambitious effort to help clubs ease the transition of leadership changes through a process termed “visioning.” A group of folks were trained to conduct visioning exercises with clubs to help them develop long-term plans for their clubs.  Since then, 17 clubs have gone through visioning exercises with the district’s training team.
Visioning is a very exciting experience for Rotary clubs. A few members of the training team conduct a visioning exercise with several members of a club during which a shared commitment towards goals and objectives is achieved, a long-term direction and plan are developed and a plan to optimize resources is agreed to. The visioning exercise helps to develop a continuity of leadership, a consistency in programming and a consensus toward purpose and action. Once a club has gone through the visioning process, the new president can begin the year knowing the plan and with confidence that the members are behind that plan.
The visioning process helps club define their objectives in community service, international service, The Rotary Foundation, youth service, public image, vocational service and membership. I had the opportunity to interview 15 presidents on their clubs’ experience with the visioning process. In all cases, they praised the process and said their club had benefited from the experience. For those clubs who had assigned a visioning champion to ensure continued progress,  good results have occurred. The visioning process does require a club to convert the vision to action plans and the assignment of chairs to carry out the plans. The club visioning champion is the person to ensure this happens through successive leadership changes.  A point of interest is that, in all cases, the clubs that have gone through visioning developed aggressive plans to increase membership.
The visioning process is a continual one. It is not something done once for all time. It is a process that needs to be refreshed periodically. Time passes, club leadership changes, membership turnover occurs and community environments change. As Mike Tyson said, “All plans are great until the first punch in the face!” As times and events change, plans need to evolve and be refreshed. One of the first actions of new presidents should be to review the current plan of their club with all the members and to determine any required updates with all the members. If there is no current plan, then one should be developed with the help of the district visioning team. Although membership objectives are a key part of the total club plan, they will not be achieved unless the club has a comprehensive plan in all the other key aspects of a successful Rotary club.
It is not feasible to just bring in new members. They should be brought into Rotary in support of your vision for the future. What is your vision for your Rotary club?
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 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 January: