Membership Corner: How Exciting Are Your Rotary Meetings?
By Tom Sturiale
Wednesday noon and it is time to go to another Rotary meeting.  Gee, I wonder who is speaking today and what he/she will talk about? Haven’t we heard the same thing before? Do you think we’ll have the same old lunch menu? Will the meeting start on time and will the speaker have enough time to cover the subject? Would it be embarrassing if only half the members show up? Isn’t this getting to be old hat?
Have you heard these complaints before? Are you having any difficulty in getting your members to attend meetings? Are you retaining all those new members you just brought into the club?  Maybe it is time to think about changing the format and content of your Rotary meetings. Have you asked your members for their opinions and are they forthcoming with good ideas for change?
Many clubs have addressed these issues and are experimenting with different venues, menus, speakers, meeting times and formats. It is essential to find out what the opinions of your members are and what their interests are.
Change is necessary to keep up with the various interests of your members and the different perspectives of new members.  While “same old, same old” is good for tradition, it may not be good for the future and for the growth of Rotary. Legacy features of Rotary meetings are important to many senior members but may also not meet the changing requirements of newer members. What can we do to mix it up once in a while, to keep the interest level high and to entice all our members to attend each and every meeting – or at least most of the meetings?
The weekly Rotary meeting is the cornerstone of our organization. This is where we bring together all the talent, energy and ideas of our members.  If they begin to lose interest in the meetings and fail to attend, the organization would begin to weaken. It would also make the task of attracting new members so much more difficult. Club leadership is responsible for developing a mechanism for members to offer their ideas – and when there is reasonable support, they need to act on those ideas.Here are a few thoughts gathered from discussions with folks in several clubs as well as my own:
  • Some members may not be able to continue attendance at the noon-type meetings and/or may not be able to afford the lunch costs. Consider altering your schedule to include either a breakfast or an evening meeting once a month or an evening meeting to which spouses/partners/guests are invited.
  • How about organizing meetings where high school athletic teams, honor students, outstanding teachers, veterans, outstanding community contributors, doctors, nurses and people who have really made major contributions to relieving pain, suffering and misery for our fellow citizens are invited to be honored or to be asked to speak?
  • There are hundreds of major businesses and corporations around eastern Massachusetts with thousands of brilliant folks who would like to tell us about their vocations and their businesses.  Let us ask the leaders to come in and tell us about their companies.
  • There are universities and colleges with great professors and teachers. Let us ask them to come in and tell us about what they are teaching our kids.
  • We could ask financial advisors to come in and talk to us about investment planning and retirement planning – not as salespeople but as information sources.
  • How about town managers to talk about city and town issues?
  • How about beer, wine and olive-oil tasting experts?
  • How about the pluses and minuses of the federal Affordable Care Act?
  • How about speakers that have absolutely no message at all but are there to simply entertain us – such as actors or comedians?
Many of the most interesting people I have met are fellow Rotarians. The second object of Rotary speaks about our vocations as an opportunity to serve society. We should strive to have each of our members act as principal speakers to describe their vocations, careers and personal interests to the other members. One of our obligations as Rotarians is to apply those unique talents to work to better our communities. There have been many interesting speakers, but those I have enjoyed the most have been fellow Rotarians.There will never be one type of meeting or one set of speakers or one agenda that will equally satisfy each and every Rotarian. But each club needs to examine their members’ needs and establish meeting formats that satisfy most of the members most of the time.
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 December: