Membership Corner - March 7, 2016
Membership Corner: A suggested strategy to increase your club membership
By Tom Sturiale
Let us assume your club’s leaders and members have decided to increase your Rotary club’s membership. Let us further assume your club has a few issues regarding size, venue, costs, objectives and meeting agendas - and maybe a few other issues.  It has been a very difficult environment in which to attract and induct new members. What to do? Maybe an effective first step would be to separate each of the major issues and address them, one by one. 
Let us take the issue of size, first. Maybe you are a startup club or a club that has dwindled in size over the years. This may be regarded as a strength since all the members are very close, dedicated and committed to the task at hand. It should be an easier task to get all the members working together to achieve your goals. It should be easier to rally the members around the issues and work together as a team. 
Maybe you have had some difficulties in selecting a proper low-cost venue for your meetings. Until you reach your goal of a larger membership of 20 or 30 members, an alternative approach might be to rotate meetings around member’s homes with catered sandwiches, host-presented meals or potluck dinners. Meeting venues may be available at a local firehouse, senior center, church or library meeting room. There may be many other possibilities. The point is that once the issue has been pinpointed and addressed, you will be able to work on a solution. Meet to develop all the alternatives, prioritize them and decide on a course of action.
A more difficult issue may be the absence of a unifying club objective, which impairs your ability to attract new Rotarians to your club. Your club size or lack of a major Rotary-type agenda also may negatively impact your ability to attract good speakers to your weekly meetings.
First things first. Weekly speakers may not be the most important thing on your agenda. A significant unifying Rotary-club objective probably is. It may be building a handicap access for the widow Jones, a fundraising pancake breakfast, a scholarship award for the talented kid with limited funds, a food pantry, or whatever. The objective should be something that the members can support and may be attractive to one or two or three influential folks in your community.
Now, you may be in a position to work on the main objective – attracting a few good members to your club. Start with a classification survey. Identify all the classifications in your club and think about a few classifications you would like to add – an accountant, a banker, an insurance person, a teacher, a doctor, a real-estate person, or any number of other classifications. Next, develop a list of potential members who may fit your model classifications. Now, work on an approach strategy to talk to these folks and invite them to your club. 
What might your strategy be? It seems you have to be totally honest about the state of your club and what you are trying to achieve. You have the entire Rotary International story to relate but you also need to have your local Rotary story stated clearly. You are a small club, are anxious to grow to a size large enough to become a major influence in your community, and want them to be a part of your effort.
Ask them. If you have done your homework, you would be talking to an influential person of good character who wants to do good things for the community and is willing to spend some of their time, talent and treasure for your cause. Of course, they will say “yes” with enthusiasm! 
Lastly, this is not easy work, but persistence and determination will finally pay off. After all, what is your alternative?
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 February: