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.
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’.
We 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.
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.”
Rotary Club of Lyme Regis