District 7770 is part of Rotary Zone 33 (just so you know.) Our 2012 – 2013 membership numbers are in, and District 7770 did a good job of retention overall, with a net loss of just 35 members for the fiscal year.
By Arnold R. Grahl
Rotary News — 9 August 2012
She had been a Rotarian for only four years and didn’t really know where to begin. But she had a few things working in her favor: Villaça-Crestia is extremely passionate about Rotary, and she doesn’t take no for an answer.
“I don’t hesitate to drive to people’s places and come back again,” says Villaça-Crestia of her recruitment style. “I don’t wait for them to get back to me and tell me they don’t have time. I insist and go after them until they understand what Rotary is all about and the good it will do them to join.”
Villaça-Crestia’s techniques have been extremely effective. Within three months of her district governor’s request, she helped launch the Rotary Club of Cotonou Rive Gauche, Benin, and became the charter president. During the next two years, she helped form three other clubs, including two composed almost entirely of younger Rotarians.
This year, she and her son, Boris Crestia, a public relations specialist and Rotary Public Image Coordinator for Zone 20A, have teamed up to recruit advertising, public relations, and media professionals for another new club, which will soon be seeking its charter. Members have set goals of promoting basic education and literacy in Africa and serving as a public relations resource for other clubs.
Be passionate and persistent
Villaça-Crestia says the key to recruiting new members is to show them how passionate you are about Rotary and be persistent.
“People say they came to Rotary because they felt my passion and I could communicate it to them,” she says. “In this state of mind, any challenge is never really impossible.
“More than once, I had to wait hours in a reception area in order to meet an important or busy person and be able to convince them to join Rotary or give to The Rotary Foundation,” she adds. “But when you just explain to people, for instance, that the same money they pay for a nice meal in a good restaurant could help immunize a great number of families against polio, most people are sensitive to this and react immediately.’’
Villaça-Crestia says her favorite thing to say to prospective members is that by being Rotarians, they can be a bridge between the millions of dollars available through The Rotary Foundation and the poorest populations of the world. “Knowing that, and not becoming a Rotarian, is almost criminal,” she says.
Be involved in service and be visible
Brazilian Claudio Spiguel is another Rotarian who has succeeded in recruiting members. When Spiguel became president of the Rotary Club of Guaxupé in 2005, the club was hovering below 20 members and in danger of losing its ability to make a significant contribution to the community.
By focusing on getting members involved in service projects and publicizing those projects, he had helped raise membership to 34 by the end of his second stint as president. While serving in various leadership roles since, he has spread that enthusiasm to other clubs in the district, with similar effect.
Spiguel shared the following tips:
- Teach club members the Foundation’s grant process and immediately engage them in pursuing projects that benefit well-known service organizations in need in your community. “To date, we have done five Matching Grant projects, and each has improved our credibility in the community.”
- Broadcast the results of your work through partnerships with local media. “We created a weekly program at a regional TV station called ‘Rotary in the Community,’ a talk show with interviews and presentations about our work and Rotary in general. It has reached many people with our message.” ( Read a blog post from Spiguel)
What you can do
Share your passion for Rotary with your family, friends, and community during Membership and Extension Month in August. This year you’re invited to take part in two activities designed to help you remember why you joined and convert that excitement into inviting others to join.
By taking the Rotary Membership Challenge, you commit to sponsor a new member, tell a friend or colleague about your club’s projects, or volunteer as a mentor to prospective or new members. After you complete the form, Rotary will email you links to resources to help you meet the challenge.
From April 2013 Rotary International Membership Minute
August is Membership and Extension Month for Rotary, where clubs are encouraged to both grow their clubs AND come up with creative ways to retain the members they have.
What is the difference between merely retaining members and ENGAGING them?
The difference between retention and engagement is simple: Membership retention refers to keeping members from year to year,
while engagement concerns keeping those members involved and excited about your club every day.
While both are important elements of any membership development plan, engagement can help you retain members who are active participants. Engaged members have a strong bond with their clubs. They feel connected, valued, and committed to Rotary’s work and to achieving their club’s objectives.
You can help your members feel engaged by:
- Publishing a list of members on your Facebook or club website to highlight their Rotary anniversary
- Publicly thanking members who work on a project
- Writing a personal note to a member to wish him/her a happy birthday or happy anniversary
- Asking seasoned members to serve as mentors to new Rotarians
- Inviting members to join (or chair) a committee
- Encouraging members to involve their family and friends in service projects
- Creating weekly programs that are of interest to your members
- Asking members to help choose the next community service project
All Rotarians are ambassadors of Rotary and their clubs. This is especially relevant during Membership and Extension Month in August, when the focus is on building strong, vibrant clubs by inviting prospective members to join Rotary. Interested in growing your club but not sure how to get started? Here’s an easy three-step plan to bring to your next club meeting.
1. Start with Rotary Basics
The colorful Rotary Basics guide (published in the August issue of The Rotarian and Rotary regional magazines) gives an overview of what Rotary clubs do. Order copies from shop.rotary.org for members to share with prospective Rotarians and club guests. Include your club’s contact information with the guide or direct prospective members to www.rotary.org/join, which includes a link to the Prospective Member Form.
2. Handle prospective-member inquiries
Club presidents receive inquiries about membership either directly from candidates or via Prospective Member or Rotarian Referral forms forwarded from Rotary International. As always, invitations for membership are at the discretion of your club. Consider creating a brochure or elevator speech to provide an overview of your club. If you develop a standard welcome e-mail to initiate correspondence with prospective members, include:
- Welcome and thank-you to candidate for his/her interest in Rotary
- Overview of the club, including a brief outline of Rotary’s mission and humanitarian goals, a recent club/district service project, and typical club/district activities
- Meeting information, including the name, meeting time, and location
- Additional resources, including links to club/district websites or Rotary publications
- Follow-up information about the club’s next steps in the membership process
3. Send prospective member kits
Follow up your welcome letter with the Prospective Member Information Kit (423), which provides basic information about RI, The Rotary Foundation, and the responsibilities of club membership. Have a club leader contact the prospective member to ensure they’ve received the kit and to answer any questions about Rotary membership.
Do you have a great idea for growing your Rotary club? Submit your idea in a comment. District Membership Chair Gary Bradham and his team would love to hear from you.