Innovation and Flexibility: The Key To Expand The Rotary Family
The Rotary District 3360's Foundation, Membership, and Branding Workshops were held on 22-23 August 2020 at the Seeharaj Hotel in Uttaradit. Rotarian dignitaries DG Somchai Kerddecho, DGE Jirayuth Hirunyawat, CP Charin Adthaora-ake, PDG Waewdao Limlenglert, PDG Kamolsak Visitsakulchai, PDG Anurak Napawan, and PDG Suparee Chatkunyarat – amongst others - shared their insight and extensive knowledge with an audience of around 200 Rotarians from clubs all over Northern Thailand. The topics were ‘How to increase the Rotary membership,’ ‘Members Retention,’ ‘Club Health Evaluation,’ ‘How to maintain club alertness at all times?’ and ‘Membership planning and setting up new clubs in RY 2020-2021.’ The takeaway from the two-day seminar was that innovation and flexibility are the key when it comes to expanding Rotary membership in the post-COVID-19 era.
Be Vibrant. Be Alert.
Rotary is a 125-year-old organization, a legendary “brand,” that continuously must develop and adapt to maintain its relevancy in today’s age. Our district has demographics that are somewhat better than Rotary's as a whole, as presented at the meeting, at right.
It’s a common misconception that Rotarians belong to the middle-aged or elderly generation. So how do we get our message through to the younger crowd? This is where digital innovation comes in handy. Social media channels (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram) may help us reach a wider audience. They’re great for promoting events, accomplishments, and club or District activities. We want to be where our audience is. Having a well-structured, informative website, where visitors can read more about the things we do for our community, also helps spread the word about Rotary and our causes.
We also must be resourceful when it comes to attracting new members. We shouldn’t forget to reach out to our family members, friends, and neighbors and talk to them about Rotary, or hand out our business cards when we’re out and about in town.
Branding, PR & Projects: The Correlation To Membership
However, membership acquisition cannot only be observed separately from branding, public relations, and service project management as they are in constant interaction. Visual presentations, photos, videos, bulletin articles, websites, media mentions all serve the same purpose of raising awareness of a club and its service projects and, at the same time, promote Rotary.
Maintaining a meaningful project portfolio that provides true value to the community encourages prospective members to join. It’s important to emphasize to new members that we cannot do everything, so they will avoid burnout. Being in Rotary is not the same as being an employee.
Member engagement is imperative, and the retention of existing members shouldn’t be overlooked. According to statistics by Rotary International, 30% of Rotarians leave their clubs due to cost or time issues, 23% leave because of the club environment, and 19% leave due to unmet expectations.
Flexibility is another key factor when it comes to membership acquisition and retention.
Passport Membership: The Flexible Option
The new Passport Membership category allows prospective and existing members who find it difficult to attend regular meetings - due to work, family, travel, or residence changes - to remain/become members of CMIRC with flexible attendance requirements. A Passport Member is only obliged to perform at least 18 hours of Rotary-recognized service during each 6-month membership period.
Rotaractor = Rotarian
The 2019 Council on Legislation amended the constitutional documents of Rotary International to include Rotaract clubs as a membership type. This means that Rotaractors are now included in the total count of Rotarians.
Other major changes include:
· Rotaract clubs will be able to establish a new club with or without a sponsor.
· Rotaract clubs will able to choose other Rotaract clubs as their sponsors.
· Rotaract clubs will be open to all young adults at least 18 years old.
· Rotary districts are encouraged to include Rotaractors in every district committee.
Corporate Membership For Community Conscious Organizations
Corporate membership allows Rotary clubs to involve any business, nonprofit, or government entity in Rotary by offering an alternative membership package to up to 4 employees. Having corporate members increases the club’s membership while expanding its network and visibility in the community. Members gain access to the fellowship and service opportunities of Rotary with the possibility of a shorter time commitment.
We can undoubtedly state that innovation and flexibility will pave the way for Rotary’s future. If we are serious about expanding the Rotary family and attracting new members from all demographics, we must come up with progressive solutions.