Doesn’t that make you proud to be a Rotarian

Membership is an issue for many clubs, and not just Rotary Clubs. Our recent “Selling the Sizzle” workshop certainly got people thinking about this issue, and here is just one attendees thoughts following the event.

“I attended an MPRC seminar in D1200 in November, run by fellow Rotarians from another District, an RI initiative. There were lots of things of interest and it was thought provoking. Plenty of time to think about the issues raised while I went off on an Antipodean holiday just after.

One thing I heard several times throughout the seminar was the statement “Doesn’t that make you proud to be a Rotarian?” But at the same time we were being told that Rotary in the UK was in crisis, continual decline in numbers, do this and do that to recruit, form new clubs, Satellite Clubs, Associate Members, throw away the rule book in some instances, the important thing is to get recruits.Box with contents and Aquafilter 2014

Well, I thought, if we are all so proud of being in Rotary and Rotary is so good then why are we not recruiting in vast numbers, why are people not flocking to join us, knocking on the door and saying “Can I be part of this, PLEASE?” It cannot be just poor media exposure, many of us live in quite small communities, know lots of people, why are they not joining?

But they are not, are they? It follows, surely, that the public perception of Rotary is somewhat different from our own. Maybe we are getting drunk on our own whisky (an old Scots phrase that I am sure you can decipher for yourself). We need to research, objectively, what OUR COMMUNITY really thinks of us. Are we still perceived as being that stuffy ‘old men’s lunch club’? Are we just ‘comfortable’ with the format we have had for years, of old friends gathering for a meal once a week, jacket and tie, ‘fewer now than there were once – but that’ s to be expected, we’re getting older’.

FatherChristmas smallWe need to accept that the community perception of our Club, not our own analysis of ourselves, is the important one and then change our club to make it attractive to the community. We may think we are having fun while we meet but if nobody else thinks that and wants to join in then we will just wither and die.

20141114_193122[1]There isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution to Club membership. All communities are different and so it follows that there is a different prospective membership resource. Bath, Bridport, Dorchester and Lyme Regis (for example) will have to tackle things in different ways. But the common theme is they each need to look at their community profile, get out and interrogate it and see what it thinks of Rotary, take that as the starting block and progress accordingly. Don’t try to change the community view of Rotary without first changing your club, it will not work. And if you don’t change your club to suit the results of that interrogation then the club will surely die.”

John McCallum
Rotary Club of Lyme Regis
Dec 2014


2 responses

  1. I couldn’t agree more, and it is all about perceptions. I am proud of being a Rotarian and proud of what my club achieves, both in our community and internationally, but I also know most of my friends think I belong to some strange, exclusive organisation. And I see us doing things, in our meetings and in the streets, which just confirm this perception.

    So I agree to do need to change the way our clubs work, and then we need to invite our community in to see what we really are. Suggestions of change tend to fall on deaf ears in our club, we still toast the Queen and Rotary Round the World every week….why? At a formal meeting yes, that’s fine, but in 21st Century most people don’t do this. New clubs don’t do this. Perhaps we should be visiting more new clubs, sharing our wisdom and learning how to be 21st Century Rotary.

    Sorry I missed the “Sizzle”,


  2. Good comments! John I am glad you thought “Selling the Sizzle” was useful – sorry you could not make it Penny.

    Stephen Lay – Assistant RI Public Image Coordinator Zone 18A


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