Tips for member retention

Traveling together to club projects and creating a variety show as a fundraiser were just a couple of the ideas Rotarians offered during a packed workshop on member retention at the 2010 RI Convention in Montréal, Québec, Canada.

Mike McGovern, 2009-10 Membership Development and Retention Committee chair and past RI vice president, said the workshop he moderated, “Closing the Back Door,” generated fantastic audience participation and produced many valuable ideas for retaining members.

“It moved so quickly, and so many people were able to share their comments, that it was like a prototype of how Rotary functions ought to be,” McGovern said. “It was one of those workshops where more seats were filled at the end than at the beginning.”

Three panelists – Ron Beaubien, a past RI director and past RI membership committee chair, and Hendreen “Dean” Rohrs and Pete Snider, 2009-10 regional Rotary International membership coordinators — each briefly shared some opening remarks about member retention. Participants were then asked to turn to a neighbor and discuss strategies that had worked in their clubs. Finally, audience members were invited to step up to one of three microphones and share with the entire group.

“We asked them to be brief and to just give their name and club name, no titles,” McGovern noted. “It worked out well and emphasized that clubs are where it’s at. It tied into Rotary making clubs bigger, better, and bolder.”

Workshop attendees scrambled to write down all the ideas for increasing member retention. Download the full list below. A sampling includes:

  • Make Rotary fun.
  • Travel together to club meetings and projects – or take a club trip together.
  • Form a hiking fellowship to get active outside of weekly meetings.
  • Go out to Sunday brunch with a group of members.
  • Find out what gets a member excited about Rotary.
  • Do a hands-on project instead of the regular meeting once a month.
  • Identify a signature project — one the club is known for throughout the community.
  • Create a mentor committee, and offer three-year mentoring to new members.
  • Develop a buddy system, pairing up a new member with an existing member.
  • Designate someone to round up members who haven’t participated in a while and drive them to the club’s meetings or events.
  • Plan outings to involve new Rotarians and their families.
  • Invite families to club meetings.
  • Promote the practice of younger members introducing other younger members.
  • Organize a New Generations club to target younger professionals.

Improving member recruitment and retention is one of the goals outlined in the RI Strategic Plan.

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