Working Together for the Good of Rotary: A Membership Initiative

The Vancouver Metropolitan-Area Membership Strategy

By Gayle Knepper, Rotary Coordinator, Z24W

Proud Rotarian decal/”cling” displayed by Vancouver members in their workplaces and on vehicles.

When District 5040 (BC) leaders held the annual strategic planning meeting for the 2014-15 year, a topic discussed in depth was the health of clubs and the membership decline which had occurred over time.

In fact, when completing the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis at the session, two of the top-ranking threats were identified as:

  1. Not dealing with aging membership
  2. Not turning around the declining membership

It was critical to the future of the clubs, they determined, to focus action on these issues now, looking at new methods to turn around this troubling trend.

“Grow membership 15% over 5 years,” was the goal, to be reached through a combination of retention and new member/club development.  While they had already identified the WHAT — the issue, determined the HOW MUCH – the goal, and the WHEN to do it (now), the real job was just beginning. Leaders now faced the bigger task — HOW. Read more

Buttons that push Rotary

buttons (1 of 1)In a world where digital media dominates as a marketing tool and new electronic strategies seem to roll out weekly, I find one very old promotional tool still very versatile – the pinback button.

You’ve seen custom pinback buttons at trade shows, political rallies, and nearly all promotional campaign kick-offs. They are affordable, 100 2 ¼ buttons cost around $0.50 each or less. They come in all shapes and sizes; including round, diamond, square, and rectangle.

Circa 1920
Rotary Club of Dayton, Ohio

Buttons as a promotion tool have been used for more than 200 years.  There are examples of anti-slavery buttons used in England. The first US patent for a pinback button was issued in 1896.  Rotary clubs for more than 100 years have used buttons as marketing tools.

I’ve used buttons to promote a RI Presidential Conference, Zone Institute and promote Rotary membership.

First%20Class%202013-2014(140)Buttons can be used to draw attention to a Rotary event, a website or boost club membership. Buttons can be used to build comradeship, enthusiasm and to bond a group.  RI President Ron Burton gave each Governor Elect a button stating “First Class 2013-14”. The button acknowledged 100% of the DGEs donated to The Rotary Foundation before the end of the 2013 International Assembly in San Diego.

buttons (1 of 1)-3DGEs in District 5040 have used buttons to build collegiality with the presidents elect by passing out buttons with the presidents elect class name, “Bob’s Bandits”, “Penny’s Posse” and Ken’s Kandles”. This is an effective strategy at the nine district, Pacific Northwest PETS. The buttons bring the presidents elect of one district together.

Buttons can be used for Rotary fundraisers. Give a button in exchange for a donation to support your club service project or for PolioPlus or other initiatives. People will pay $5 or $10 for a button that cost a few cents. Use buttons to promote a specific fundraising event.

rotary_workWhat has changed with pinback buttons, is the design work – it is now simple.  Anything that can be put on a computer screen can be printed on a button.  Most button manufactures offer free template downloads. Find a Rotarian who uses Photoshop, Corel Draw or similar programs. Many low cost or free graphics programs work well. You can also pay the button company to do the design work.

I find people will always wear your button at the Rotary event but take it off when they leave.  After your event, the next day, the next week you want your message out there. You need to give them a button they want to keep wearing.  Make your message bold and clear! If appropriate use humor. Smaller buttons are worn longer.  Rotarians will leave flyers and brochures on the table but always take a button home.

Buttons used in conjunction with social and traditional media can boost the impact of yourlove_rotary campaign. For your next event or campaign try pinback buttons combined with other media.  It will button down your Rotary campaign!


Editor’s Note:  It is expected every Club President work toward  a Presidential Citation.  Here are details.

What is Rotary? What does a Rotary club do? These questions are often asked of Rotarians by prospective members and other interested people, and they are difficult to answer effectively in a few short minutes.

Although our primary motto Service Above Self highlights our altruistic nature, it fails to answer the two questions. Therefore, I decided to search for a briefly stated theme that would fulfill two objectives: The first to explain the purpose of Rotary to non-Rotarians and the second to confirm and validate the importance of our principles to Rotarians.

In my search for the right words, I reviewed the four Avenues of Service and noted that Club Service and Vocational Service both help us to enjoy life and to be good citizens. Community Service and Vocational Service combine to make our local communities better places for us to live and work. And International Service permits us to partner with clubs in other countries and on different continents to make the world a better place to live with an improved opportunity for world understanding, goodwill, and peace.

Read more