We have already discussed the losses suffered with membership over the past ten years and how over half of the Rotarians who join us leave within the first two years.
What is clear is that a lack of knowledge of what Rotary has to offer is seriously affecting the retention of our members.
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It’s a fact that only just over 50% of our membership in these islands has a My Rotary account.
That is a bit like spending £2.50 a week on your Sunday newspaper but never actually reading any of it!
For so long we have spent time advertising to the outside world how great Rotary is and how people should join us, and we have forgotten about our current members.
It’s time to focus on educating current hard-working Rotarians about what opportunities are out there, and answering the question which I am constantly asked: “why do I pay my subs?”
We are a membership organisation first and foremost. Our subscriptions pay for the running of the organisation so that we can safely collect and donate 100% of money to our carefully chosen charities and of course our own charity The Rotary Foundation.
So why should people join us and what do they get for their money that they would not get by volunteering for a local charity on a Saturday morning?
- Our projects and activities are, of course, covered by our comprehensive insurance which is vital.
- We have a Rotary Great Britain Ireland Support Centre, based at Alcester in Warwickshire, offering first class support for all clubs on finance and club administration, along with legislation and legal support.
- Experts to support you with any issues with health and safety, diversity equity and inclusion, and safeguarding, all vital for your event planning.
- Specialist advisers in membership, public image, The Rotary Foundation and humanitarian services to help you plan events and projects to grow membership.
- A huge list of Rotary youth competitions which run from club level to national level that is unique in the Rotary world. Ideal for members to get involved with and share their skills.
- Exchange programmes for our young people and young professionals.
- The Rotary Youth Leadership Award programme always needs willing helpers and is a wonderful way to encourage our next generation of leaders.
- Rotaract, Interact and RotaKids all need Rotarians’ involvement and provide a great opportunity to help develop our young people and young adults.
- Rotary Friendship Exchanges where Rotarians can travel and be hosted by clubs around the world.
- Rotary Fellowships where those with similar interests can join together to make new friends and carry out projects together or just have fun (I hear the Gin Fellowship is particularly good!) Rotary Action Groups. Any Rotarian can join these and focus on particular areas of interest, for example peace, water, healthcare or the protection of endangered species.
- The opportunity to enhance leadership skills and join the district or national leadership team. Receive expert training in the roles and learn alongside colleagues from across the world making lifelong international friendships.
- Access to Rotary International’s comprehensive online learning centre.
- Help respond to international disasters in a constructive and meaningful way.
- Have access to a grant system, funding and support for projects from the multi award-winning Rotary Foundation.
- The opportunity to attend conferences locally, nationally and internationally, meeting fellow Rotarians from across the globe and make lifelong friendships.
- To make a difference to one person or a whole village of people.
- The opportunity to be able to say I’m a Rotarian and we eradicated polio from the world – it’s going to happen!
Just to reiterate all these need the input of Rotarians, and each opportunity is open to everyone who wants to get involved.
The list goes on, but the most important thing is that we must ensure ALL members, both new and experienced, know about and have access to everything in Rotary.
Let each member choose what they would like to become involved in.
Every member of your club should have a MY ROTARY account so as they can explore these opportunities.
Every new member of your club should open an account straight away and see what is available to them.
It’s time to focus on educating current hard-working Rotarians about what opportunities are out there.”
New members should be mentored, not just on a club basis but on a district basis so they are fully aware of all the activities and opportunities at their disposal.
Who knows, out there in a club in your district will be a future RYLA lead or Interact lead but they have no idea they can become involved.
We need to invite all Rotarians in these islands to look outside of their clubs at the wider world of Rotary.
If this can be achieved, our new Rotarians will not leave after two years because they will find great satisfaction in being a Rotarian and another step towards better retention will have been achieved.
So, before you ask that question, “why do we pay subscriptions? What’s in it for me?”, just stop and think for a minute.
Go and explore Rotary because your next Rotary adventure could be just around the corner.