The focus on growing membership is constantly being highlighted. Let’s not forget why Rotary was formed by Paul Harris in 1905 with business leaders wishing to maximise business opportunities while actively contributing to the well-being of their community.
Listen to this article
Today we seem to shy away from talking business. Corporate membership has been available for many years, yet clubs seem reluctant to consider it as part of their membership drive.
I regularly hear members saying: “We are no longer in business, we don’t know the terminology or understand current business requirements.”
Clubs do not feel confident talking to business leaders about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or maximising their networking opportunities. So how can we address this?
For Rotary, corporate members bring new life to our clubs.”
Recently I met with a club interested in acquiring new members but unable to engage with the business sector.
The first question I asked was: “Who has children employed locally?” Immediately, the proud members started discussing their family experiences.
We compiled a list of companies where they could ask their children to find if a CSR plan exists, who is responsible, how charities are chosen and what budgets are allocated.
The list was distilled to eight target companies and within two weeks they had two new corporate members from an hotel and printers.
So why would companies want to join Rotary? We have concentrated on the CSR angle for some time now and, with the difficulties during Covid, many companies are rebuilding their businesses with new staff and fresh ways of working.
So what has Rotary got to offer corporate members? We should think of it as business membership, the potential to increase company performance by networking locally and globally.
Previously, many Rotarians had their membership fees paid by their firms. Companies knew their staff were being recognised in their community as trustworthy, organised, proactive, having a social conscience and, most of all, available for new business conversations.
When companies consider their employees’ personal development plans, the focus is what can the staff member offer in the local community?
How can they get their hands dirty with a local project which raises the business profile and builds teamwork?
Many firms would prefer this approach under the guidance of Rotary, as opposed to simply fund-raising, although the two often go together.
So who should we target as a corporate member? All businesses are trying to increase their interaction with potential customers. In the West Midlands, we have a range of companies as corporate members; care homes, hotels, football clubs, solicitors, restaurants, academies and even a racecourse.
Corporate membership has been available for many years, yet clubs seem reluctant to consider it as part of their membership drive.”
What they have in common is that all are in competition in some way or another. The need for differentiation from their competitors results in a more professional profile with increased business conversations.
For Rotary, corporate members bring new life to our clubs. They will probably be younger, more willing to get engaged, whose businesses will have budgets for CSR and personal development.
This fresh blood can introduce new and topical project ideas, add diversity and inject renewed enthusiasm.
Rotary is a membership organisation. New members increase income and expand opportunities to make a difference for citizens locally and throughout the world.
So next time you meet at a golf day, business expo, school careers event, networking club, or accept a hospitality invite, consider how Rotary could help others to increase their business performance.