August is Membership Month. As a District we are struggling for members.
I had the pleasure of meeting Cliff Dochterman Past RI President when I went to
the International Assembly in California. He had some great advice for the
Incoming District Governors. He has written a book “As I Was Saying…,” it is
filled with generous humor, a cajoling wit, and a world of inspiration. In the book
Cliff does his utmost to motivate fellow Rotary Club members to achieve their best
and to serve the communities in which they live.
Potential club members are everywhere. But to get them to join Rotary, clubs must
use creativity and imagination, says Cliff Dochterman.
“Rotary International leaders keep emphasizing membership growth and extension
because Rotary’s very survival depends on it” says Dochterman, a member of the
Rotary Club of Moraga, California, USA. “If Rotary is to grow, we all must take
Dochterman believes clubs can thrive by seeking new members, retaining current
ones, and sponsoring new clubs in the community. He offers the following tips:
Seeking new members
Clubs must have a specific plan in place, says Dochterman.
- Use a team approach. Teams should have several members who meet with
qualified business and professional leaders to discuss the benefits of joining
- Set aside one club meeting per month to be a "visitor day," to which all club
members would invite a friend or prospective member.
- Seek out natural prospects, including Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial
Scholars, Rotaractors, and Group Study Exchange (GSE) team members.
Retaining current members
“Keeping current club members is just as important as bringing in new ones. The
key is to adapt and change,” says Dochterman.
- Make sure club meetings, service activities, and social events are interesting,
fun, and worthwhile.
- Initiate more hands-on projects so club members will feel that they're
making a difference.
- Eliminate 100 percent attendance requirements.
- Be alert to the symptoms that lead to resignation. Club leaders should be
considerate to members’ personal problems.
Sponsoring a new club
“Don’t think about cloning your existing club. The new century of Rotary requires
and permits a new vision of fellowship and service,” says Dochterman. “It’s time to
think about sponsoring a new kind of Rotary club.” For example:
- A club composed entirely of executives and professionals under the age of
40. The nucleus could be former Rotaractors, GSE team members, and
Foundation program alumni.
- A club in an ethnic or minority section of the community, with members
who share common economic and cultural interests.
- A club that meets in a shopping mall, airport, high-rise office building, golf
course, or other nontraditional but convenient location.
I hope this article helps you to go out and grow your clubs.