Membership Corner - November 2, 2015
Membership Corner: Rotarians of 7910 – Membership Please!
By Tom Sturiale
The Rotary year is one-third over and will be half over in a few weeks following the holiday season, which will quickly pass. How are we doing? The club presidents have settled in after their honeymoon period and now fully realize the magnitude of their job and how to do it. Now it is time to lead and energize your clubs towards the major goals of Rotary. We need a strong membership effort and more participation in the good works funded by support from The Rotary Foundation.
In last week’s newsletter, Ralph Hammond, chair of District 7910's Foundation Grant Coordinator Team, published a summary of where our district and each club fits in the worldwide ranking of RTF support. (To read it, click here). Find your club and decide whether that is where you want to be. The Rotarians of District 7910 should be proud to note that we have financed and supported almost 500 projects worth upwards of $7 million since 1997 and have more than $1 million of projects going this year. 
It should be pointed out that this newsletter has developed into its most readable and interesting form in many years. It is easy to read, very navigable and contains news of many clubs in which we should all be interested. Sadly, only about 30 percent of us even bother to open the Newsletter and less than that spend more than a couple minutes reading it. 
Club presidents could help to advertise the merits of the newsletter to their membership. There may be reluctance on the part of some because the newsletter is associated with the term “District.”
What is the District? It is simply a group of Rotarians who spend untold hundreds of hours of their precious personal time trying to help clubs, train Rotarians, organize events, report to Rotary International, take care of necessary finances and reporting, organize project paperwork, keep track of RTF funds, conferences and forums, and handle dozens of other responsibilities. The work and time devoted to Rotary is not done for personal gain or glory – it is done for the good of Rotary and Rotarians!
We should all be proud and thankful for the work of the “District” and support it enthusiastically. Why not?
I had the pleasure of speaking last week to the Rotary Club of Chelmsford and offering a few tips on how to energize a membership effort, which is summarized below. There is a very useful Rotary International brochure titled Strengthening Your Membership: Creating Your Membership Development Plan, which all club presidents should purchase (for only $2.50) and read. Of course, we are all interested in strengthening our clubs as a long-term objective, but in the short-term we need to kick-start our membership efforts. While short-term in nature, I am convinced that if these steps are followed, they would lead to long-term results.
  1. Consensus: Organize an assembly meeting now and get the members to understand the urgency of a membership need and to secure a general agreement on the club-membership objectives – numbers, timing, who, etc.
  2. Continuity: We need to establish a membership committee and chair for multi-year periods transcending the annual leadership changes.  We cannot afford the wasted time reinventing the membership wheel year after year.
  3. Consistency: While every club is different in demographics, size, history, projects, venues, dues and fees, interests, etc., they should have their own value proposition espousing their story and the values of Rotary. They need to develop a story about what makes their club tick. What makes them unique among the many other organizations competing for an individual’s time? It needs to be a strong enough story to convince others to join Rotary and share their time, talent and treasure
  4. Process:  At either the same or another assembly meeting, it is incumbent on all the members to contribute to a target list of prospective, desirable members.  Every member knows someone who fits the characteristics of a Rotarian – school administrators, business folks, town and city managers, charity leaders, religious leaders, retirees, neighbors, friends – i.e. anyone who is of good character and willing to accept and contribute to the Rotary way. Small clubs should have a minimum of 10 prospects, mid-size clubs, 15 to 20, and larger clubs, 20 to 30 prospects. This is a list that needs to be refreshed from time to time - and not left to stagnate.
  5. Contact: Now, your membership committee has a working list from which to conduct its efforts. Pick one or two more socially oriented folks to approach a prospective member. Develop an opening statement, a la: “Hi, I am from the local Rotary Club and one of our members suggested you may be interested in learning more about Rotary; “Will you be interested in spending a few minutes with me to talk about our local Rotary Club?”;  or “We could really use your help with some of our charitable projects. Will you help?” You get the picture. Add your own thoughts.
  6. Finally - Close the deal:  Ask them to join you as an honored guest at your weekly meeting or a project or an event.  Meet them again, invite them again and ask them to join. And, lastly, get them integrated, involved, introduced and educated ASAP. Commitment will follow and a lifetime Rotarian will result.
More details of all the above are contained in the “Membership Corner” articles published each week in this newsletter.
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 October: