Membership Corner - September 21, 2015

Is There Value In A Prospective-Member Target List?
By Tom Sturiale
The term “target list” sounds like a desperate, last-ditch effort to entrap unsuspecting members into Rotary. Okay, so let’s use a term like “potential members” or “possible Rotarians” or “influential citizens” or anything you deem politically correct. 
The issue is, we need a vehicle to keep us focused on an actionable plan to attract new members into our Rotary Clubs. I will refer to it as a “target list”.
There is great value in a list of potential members. First, it represents a consensus by the club members that new members are important and there is agreement on the names of potential members. Secondly, the list of names provides a basis for an organized, actionable plan of attack. The Membership Committee chair and his/her committee members will have the information they need to approach potential members. 
It seems clear the approach we have used over the past few years has not yielded the results we intended. Our membership has not increased and we sometimes have difficulty maintaining it. This is an issue that is concerning. Our annual budget is based on a certain level of membership. More importantly, our club programs are dependent on enough members for support and financing. So it is self-evident that we need to maintain and increase our membership base. 
The usual approach is to exhort the club presidents, who in turn exhort the membership chairs, who in turn exhort the members to bring friends, neighbors and acquaintances to a club meeting in hopes they will become members. After we are fortunate enough to add a few members, the emergency ends and we go back to business as usual until membership falls off and we go through the same routine again. Let’s face it. This reactionary approach will never work in the long-term. The best we will achieve is to maintain the status quo, if we are lucky.
Each club should develop its own membership plan based on its individual club needs, demographics and resources. One of the essential planning steps is to gain member consensus and assistance in the development of a list of potential members. Every club member knows the names of many local business folks, retirees, trades people, religious leaders, charitable-organization managers, educational administrators, teachers and many others. Club presidents and Membership Committee chairs can conduct interactive assembly meetings to gather names for their target lists. It may take several meetings to develop an appropriate list, but every journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step – take it! 
There are additional avenues to pursue. Your past and planned speakers are also potential members. How about examining your lists of past members as possibilities? Do you maintain contact lists of all your past scholarship recipients, your RYLAns, ESSEX students, Interact and Rotaract students? Many have returned home with college degrees and are now successful local citizens. They would be thrilled to receive a call from a Rotarian.
The success of a long-term membership effort depends on a long-term plan. That plan depends on a list of potential members that can be passed on to succeeding club leaders. We cannot afford to reinvent the membership wheel year after year. It is important for club leaders to take the initiative, attend our district's Membership Forum and Dinner on October 14, become educated, motivate your club members and begin to develop a long-term membership plan. 
Begin with a “target list”!
Please let me know any ideas, comments or stories about Membership you would like to share. E-mail me at
Tom Sturiale, vice chair of District 7910's Membership Committee.
Here are the Membership Corner articles that were posted during August: