A review of membership best practices from 8 of our clubs

By Tom Sturiale
This week’s "Membership Corner" is a review of membership best practices conducted by District Governor-Elect Karin Gaffney and Assistant Governor Steve Levitsky of eight Rotary clubs in our district: Brookline, Concord, Fitchburg, Leominster, Newton, Shrewsbury, Watertown, and Westborough. 
It is a concise summary of many great ideas.
1. Clubs that attract and retain members have good meetings and have a culture where membership is a priority. These clubs want to grow.
  • Welcoming and there is good energy in the room
  • Even if there are only five people at the meeting, it still needs to feel like the club is alive and vibrant
  • The meal is not the reason people attend these meetings
  • Open feedback culture
  • Be thoughtful about where a prospective and new member sits at a meeting (not at the old timers table and not with some who will monopolize their time) – the goal is to have them talk with as many people in the club as possible
2. Clubs that have grown have changed to be “flexible”
  • These clubs alternate meeting times and have reduced fees by changing venue to a less expensive option
  • These clubs allow for 50-percent attendance and count attendance for participation in events and committee activities.
3. Clubs that are growing “self-assess” – look in the mirror – and figure out what is good and what needs to be adjusted to stay fresh and current with the times.
  • These clubs ask their members for feedback and do member surveys to understand if the club’s leadership should consider changes and what members like/dislike
4. Clubs that keep their new members have developed an “onboarding” process and use it consistently after a new member is inducted
  • Create a Rotarian Roadmap to set expectations and provide support for a new members starting on day 1. New member meets with committee chairs. There is follow up in 90 days to make sure new member is well established in a role.
  • Information meetings for new members - Create a “booklet” of information for new members
  • Call new member after a meeting and ask them to join a committee – give them a meaningful role as soon as possible and then mentor/follow up/keep in touch to see if it’s working out for them and they like it
  • Ask new member to do something at every meeting after they join (lead the pledge for example)
  • Figure out what a new member’s “strength” is and utilize it right away
5. Club that grow have a dedicated membership chair that understands that “it’s a sale job” – someone in the club owns membership and is devoted to this process, always looking for a way to interact and appeal to new members
  • Create a Membership Tracker – a spreadsheet to track follow-up with perspective members
  • Follow up, keep in touch, even if a lead is “lukewarm” – at least once/month
  • Add all speakers and visitors to weekly distribution list for newsletter and email updates about what the club is doing and invite them to club events
  • Have materials available to handout at all events and when you meet a perspective member – like a club brochure, business card list of all the service projects that club has completed
  • Plan a quarterly Rotary “information” event to educate community members on the club’s activities and on what Rotary is all about; ask each member to come with a prospective new member
  • Attend business and community networking events and be prepared to talk about Rotary (and have a Rotary business card to hand out)
  • Members consistently invite guests to the meetings – and there is always follow up with these guests
  • Thank members for helping with membership recruitment – acknowledge members who are succeeding in bringing in new members
6. Clubs that are growing have good PR tools
  • Use social media and take lots of pictures – and update the website and Facebook page constantly with fresh/new info
  • Hang the Rotary banner at events in town
  • Use public access TV for interviews and to show events
  • These clubs have “branded” themselves with heavy use of consistent messaging
  • Make sure it’s easy to find out information about the club – meeting info is easy to find and accurate on web site, district web site, club runner etc…
  • Make sure club members know where to find the latest and greatest info about the club and its activities/member contact info – keep everything fresh and current
7. Clubs that retain members have a process for keeping their members engaged
  • Everyone is involved and is a stake holder in something the club does – find out what each member has an interest in/passion about and then exploit their interest/passion
8. Clubs that succeed and grow are attracting “younger” members
  • Meetings allow for productive accomplishment of an activity or committee meeting and are not just sitting and listening to a speaker
9. Clubs that are growing have FUN
  • Social events each quarter and invite spouses and family
  • Mix up the meetings and do something different, creative, surprises!
10. Clubs that are growing have a strong connection to and in their local community
  • They have a member who is a stakeholder in town government (police chief, selectman, etc.)
  • Have an event that honors a community member and showcase the story of Rotary at this event
  • Celebrate the community with an event and invite other community service organization leaders  - these are like-minded individuals who would make good Rotarians
11. Clubs that are growing collaborate and do joint projects with other Rotary clubs and with other community service organizations – these clubs do not operate in a bubble of isolation
  • Do a joint project with the Lions etc. their members are also service focused and will help spread the word about all the good work Rotary is doing
  • Multi club projects and fundraisers raise awareness and create more opportunities for fellowship
12. Clubs that are growing have established a “corporate membership” and have a strategy for sourcing good candidates for a corporate membership
Tom Sturiale, chair of District 7910's Visioning Committee and vice chair of its Membership Committee, may be reached at tsturiale36@gmail.com.
For more information on Rotary memberships:
August 2016 'Membership Corner' articles:
"A Rotary Membership Guide" is a collection of "Membership Corner" articles written for this weekly newsletter during the 2015-2016 Rotary year, which began last July 1. It is intended to offer an idea or thought each week aimed at stimulating discussions, questions and actions to effectively increase membership at all our clubs. Click here, to download this 52-page "Guide," in Word format.