Membership Corner - March 21, 2016
Membership Corner: A challenge to incoming presidents
By Tom Sturiale
Congratulations to all the incoming presidents in District 7910. You have completed your PETS training and are prepared for what will be an exciting and challenging year. You still have three months to develop your plans. There are so many items to consider that you may get bogged down in details.
It may be useful to focus on the important few items and to rely on your organization of committee chairs to take care of the many details. Of course, it is critical that you do have a slate of officers and committee chairs to carry on the work of the club. Your club asked you to take on the role of president and is incumbent on them to support you by assuming the responsibilities of committee chairs. But, assuming you have that structure in place, what might be considered the important few items? 
The foundation principles of Rotary are wrapped up in the four Objects of Rotary. Look them up and understand them. The first one is especially important: “The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service.” What does that mean? The most common attraction of new Rotarians is the opportunity to join an organization, which will provide networking with people they want to associate with and enjoy fun, friendship and fellowship. It may be for personal or for business reasons or it may be for the camaraderie or the support structure which Rotary provides. As time goes on, Rotary engagement strengthens and we become more committed to deeper Rotary goals. It is important to note that the first Object of Rotary pertains to all members, not just new members.
So here is the challenge for incoming presidents. Look for all the opportunities in your clubs to develop “acquaintance” in the form of fellowship, fun and friendship among members. Start with biographical talks by members. This provides the members the opportunities to learn about the amazing skills, attributes and backgrounds of everyone in the club. Schedule non-business meetings in different venues with spouses, partners, friends and families, to develop familiarity and fellowship relationships. Plan on picnics or dinners during which members can meet each other in a social environment. Plan open assembly meetings to learn what your members want to have happen in their club. 
All strong organizations follow the same principle that commitment begins with the relationships among members. Acquaintance leads to friendship, which leads to trust, which leads to commitment!
Of course, you will have many other projects, fundraisers and programs to worry about during the year. Rely on others to get those jobs done. The president cannot do everything.  It is more important for you to develop the basic underlying foundation of the club through strengthening relationships. That is your challenge!
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