Membership, Rotary Club

Growing Membership by Personalizing Rotary

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Many around the world have used traditional recruitment methods such as membership drives, print advertising and inviting guest speakers to join. While clubs have success with these methods finding prospective members, there is a key component that will help to convert more people into actual members.

Most Rotary clubs would be elated to have the chance to add new members on a regular basis. Many around the world have used traditional recruitment methods such as membership drives, print advertising and inviting guest speakers to join. While clubs have success with these methods finding prospective members, there is a key component that will help to convert more people into actual members.

What is personalization? How does the concept let a prospective member make the commitment to join? Personalization is taking elements of a prospective member’s life and applying them to the benefits of Rotary, thus creating a mutually beneficial experience. Understanding an individual’s background, story and interests are integral parts of the concept. Asking a prospective member to tell their story will enable a club to emphasize the parts of Rotary that will best suit them.

Every individual has a professional and a personal history. Some might be business owners; some might be an employee or even be retired. People will have different interests in their desires to serve as well. There will be individuals who want to get involved in hands-on service projects and others who will want to join a committee. These stories will lay the groundwork needed to create a Rotary experience that will be the right fit for the prospective member.

The broader concept of personalization has become a way of life in today’s Western society, especially amongst younger professionals in their 20s and 30s. Individuals of those age groups are accustomed to personalizing everything they interact with. Their social media pages, iPhone cases and television viewing habits have all become customizable. Molding their lives to Rotary can be off-putting. The good news is that Rotary can be personalized for individuals, all without eliminating the traditions that make Rotary great.

Here are some examples of prospective membership situations that may arise and how a club can use the personalization concept to bring in a new member:

  • A time-starved business owner might not see the commitment of Rotary as something he or she can do. Personalize Rotary for this person by explaining the benefits of the in-person networking element of a club and how it can help their business. Also, show them opportunities on how their business or profession can benefit the Rotary club, thus making it a mutual partnership and time well spent.
  • An employee is hesitant to join Rotary because he or she has revolving commitments that may make it difficult to make the weekly meeting. Ask the member about their interests and see if there would be a fit outside of the regular meeting. Perhaps this person can make service projects that are outside the regular workday, or attend events of behalf of the club that can serve as meeting makeups. Allowing for some flexibility will enable this prospective member to join the club as opposed to turning them away.
  • An individual approaches a current member about a service idea they had for the community and asks if your Rotary club engages in that activity. If the club does, extend membership and ask for their help. If the club doesn’t perform that service, extend membership and ask them to help get it started. Asking someone for help personalizes the experience because his or her expertise is needed in the organization.
  • A guest speaker from a local charity speaks to a Rotary club about a project in town that they need the club’s help with. The club has committed to provide members for service and also provide financial support. Take the next step by extending membership to the individual speaking to the club. This will allow them to create a partnership that goes way beyond writing a check or providing a helping hand.

Using the concept of personalization could rapidly grow a Rotary club if used in conjunction with traditional membership drives or advertisements. The magnetism of Rotary and its mission is enough to peak one’s interest, but refining the message to the fabric of one’s soul will make them a Rotarian for life.

About the author: Michael Bucca is an Emmy® award winning freelance technical manager for television stations in the New York City area. He currently serves as membership chair of the Central Ocean Rotary Club of Toms River. He can be reached at buccam@gmail.com or followed on Twitter @MichaelBucca.