Posted by F X Sentamu on Sep 01, 2019
August is the designated month for Membership and New Club Development. And as we are all aware, “Membership” is the number one internal priority of Rotary International. Why? Because membership is one of the pathways through which we can extend our footprint and enhance the impact of our projects.
As District Governor, one of my roles is to encourage clubs to increase our membership. And the statistics show that clubs have taken heed. We are bringing in new members. We are forming new clubs and our district is one of the fastest growing Rotary districts in the world. Sadly however, our district is also continuously losing members. Over the last four years, we have been losing an average of 200 – 300 members a year!! And so the question is - why are our clubs so porous? Therefore as we celebrate this month, it is imperative that we focus on the retention of the people who come through our doors. 
Keeping members is a sign of a club’s stability and well-being – just the same way retaining personnel in a company indicates a good working environment and stable organization. Conversely, consistently losing members is an indicator of gaps somewhere. I often hear from clubs that members are dropping out because they are unable to regularly attend weekly meetings. And yes, that is partially true and we must address it. In this day and age – where people have so many competing demands on their time, we must change our strategy to reflect the changing times. We must exercise more flexibility in the way we run our clubs, applying the options given by the Council on Legislation. We must be mindful of the demands on our members’ time, and should never expect our members to make a choice between their families and Rotary, or their work and Rotary.
But beyond tweaking a few things, we need to do some introspection. What is it that our clubs are not doing that makes it difficult for some members to commit to us? What is it that we offering our members that would make them forsake everything else, for an hour each week, to attend our club fellowships? Put simply: what is our club’s value proposition? It is important for everybody, as it is for you and me, to ensure that we value our time and money and how we spend it. What that means for us in Rotary is to make an intentional effort to ensure that we are providing our members with a worthwhile experience! It is important that our fellowships are informative, fun but also meaningful and responsive to the needs and interests of our members. Our value proposition should be derived from the Object of Rotary and should guide our relationships with each other. The Object of Rotary is the essence of who we are and what we do.
Finally, we need to work on membership engagement in order to retain our members. Engaged ‘seasoned’ rotarians are a club’s greatest asset while ‘disengaged’ members could be a significant liability. Member engagement should begin before induction and throughout the year to ensure a sense of belonging and ‘connection.’ Members who are welcomed, and are involved in club leadership, decisions and activities; and who perceive that the organization is benefiting them will not only stay on as members, but will want to share the experience with friends and acquaintances. This year the District has appointed two District Officers: PAG Ronald Kawaddwa (District Chair - Membership) and PAG Jane Kabugo (District Chair - New Club Development) to assist clubs with membership extension, engagement and development. Let us use them and the online resources on My Rotary to grow and boost our membership.
A happy family attracts - share your love for Rotary.