How do we handle snowbirds in our club? Gone for 6 months!

In District 5370 Assistant Governor Theresa Wilson emailed me about members who are snow birds and leave their home club for the winter. We know 30% of attendance has to be at your home club. What if you are gone for 6 months? RI Coordinator (A position ABOVE the DG if you can believe) gave me these notes – the bottom line is – change your club rules to accommodate. Again referring to the Manual of Procedure, Gayle Knepper included these notes:

Hi Kevin,

This is a good discussion!  I’ll  tell you the official information (from the MOP) and examples of what other clubs do in this situation.

– a club can give the member a leave of absence from their own club (many do under these circumstances)

– someone has up to 12 months to attend clubs in another region if they are moving (in this case, they are not moving permanently — some clubs do apply that leeway however.)

– they can be an honorary at one club and a full member at another

– see below *

Which brings us to the second part.

– There is not a way for someone to be a member of 2 clubs at RI as she said. The suggestion she had could be proposed for the future, but the systems don’t exist today.  In addition, this provision is is also based on the concept that a “home club” is a good thing.

–  A number of clubs have a similar situation. It would not make sense to lose a good member because they travel.  Many clubs in areas where there are snowbirds, tourist industry, etc., that affects their members have adapted their club rules as those circumstances are a natural part of living in the community.  There is such a club in my district in a very small tourist town. They had a similar situation and were down to 11 members. They adapted their club rules for snowbirds (and  sunbirds)  now they have 35 dedicated members who are strong contributors both when they are in town and when they are away.

It appears that most of what is described as the rules in this situation that are causing some difficulties are regulated by the clubs. Rotary urges clubs to change  rules that no longer make sense for their members. Dues also seem to be an issue.  In this case, there is not a reason why (in my opinion) dues couldn’t be pro-rated at the home club if the person is not there for 5-6 months and advises the board in advance. The member could pay prorated “dues” (as a contribution) if they choose at the club attended as a snowbird. The dues paid to RI or district make no difference to the club  so those could be paid at wherever the person decides they want their home club.

I would urge working with clubs to help them understand what flexibility they have in setting their own rules. Many do not realize they have the power to do it.

* A few other references — #2 might apply.

Article 9          Attendance (Club Constitution)

When a member is outside the member’s country of residence for more than fourteen (14) days, the time restriction shall not be imposed so that the member may attend meetings in another country at any time during the travel period, and each such attendance shall count as a valid make-up for any regular meeting missed during the member’s time abroad.


Section 2 — Extended Absence on Outposted Assignment. If a member will be working on an outposted assignment for an extended period of time, attendance at the meetings of a designated club at the site of the assignment will replace attendance at the regular meetings of the member’s club, provided there is a mutual agreement between the two clubs.

Section 3 — Excused Absences. A member’s absence shall be excused if (a) the absence complies with the conditions and under circumstances approved by the board. The board may excuse a member’s absence for reasons which it considers to be good and sufficient. Such excused absences shall not extend for longer than twelve months.

Hope this helps in the discussion.


Kev’s last thought:   The 85 Rule would work here too, for senior members.

Kevin D. Hilgers and Spouse Janice McNeice
Governor 2012 2013 – Rotary International District 5370 (In Western Canada)
Over 800 participants: District Facebook   Follow Kev’s Facebook

Home Club:   Rotary Club of Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada

District Conference:





4 thoughts on “How do we handle snowbirds in our club? Gone for 6 months!

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  • And then of course, there is the E-club they are able to be part of.
    Perhaps the Rotary E-club of Western Canada could discuss this and consider honorary membership for these Rotarians.

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