District Positions: What is a membership chair to do?
By Tom Sturiale
By definition, job No. 1 is to attract new members into Rotary. But really is that all? And, by the way, how? It may be that the job is much more important and it can be argued that it is the most important job in the Rotary club. If we think the only task before the membership chair is to bring in new members, we may continue to observe the same results of the past. That is, new members enter the club, sit around for a few months, attend fewer meetings, do not get involved, fail to be embraced by all the members, do not attend any district events, and finally leave Rotary, totally disillusioned. Check your club records. How many new members have been inducted into your Rotary club during the past 10 years and how many of them are still in Rotary?
A more broadened description of the membership chair’s job may include some of the following four ideas:
First: They should be instrumental in influencing the development of the club’s mission, its vision and the club story – in short, the Rotary club’s “value proposition.”  That would be the club’s statement of what it is trying to achieve, its raison d’être, and the reason that folks want to run, not walk to join the effort.  The membership chair is not expected to do this alone, but they should also encourage the club leadership to ensure it gets done. 
Second: They should ensure all the issues of club meeting agendas, venues, meals, costs, etc. are addressed and resolved so that prospects, visitors, speakers and new members enter into a Rotary environment that is warm, friendly, receptive and welcoming.  Nothing will turn off a visitor faster than a cold, unreceptive atmosphere. Visitors whose names are mispronounced, not introduced well and are not welcomed will not return. Think about it: How would you like to be treated when you enter a new, unfamiliar environment?
Third: The membership chair needs to demand help from all the members in terms of how many new members the club wants, which classifications they desire, who are the local folks they would like to have enter the club, and how they are going to ensure the new members are properly inducted and welcomed. The club leadership has to be encouraged to achieve a consensus of members on all these issues. Most importantly, the members need to develop a list of prospective Rotarians for the Membership Committee to work on. This is the first step of the vetting process. Further vetting will be done through club visits and other introductory meetings with members.
Fourth: The membership chair needs to encourage the club leadership to ensure that new members are properly educated, mentored and involved in club activities as soon as they join Rotary. This cannot be left to chance because chance doesn’t work very well. These issues are probably the most important factors that determine the longevity of new Rotary members. 
Yes, the membership chair’s job is to bring in new members, but they also need to insist on help in all of these key areas from the club leadership and all the members.
Growing our Rotary clubs is serious business and requires serious attention and focus.
Tom Sturiale is vice chair of District 7910's Membership Committee.
Here are the Membership Corner articles that were posted during February: