Thoughts of Rotary Leaders: Ron D. Burton
President elect, Rotary International 2013–2014
Membership growth, membership development, membership retention, membership plans — membership is like the weather. We spend a lot of time talking about it. But, unlike the weather we can do something about membership. Like almost everything in Rotary, the key is not what committees say or what boards decide, but rather what Rotarians and Rotary clubs ‘Do’.
Every Rotarian in every club is there because at some time in the past a Rotarian invited him or her into membership. The Rotarians who have remained in their clubs for a number of years have done so because they have found membership to be meaningful and to provide opportunities for fellowship and service that they value. So why doesn’t every Rotarian invite a friend or colleague to become a Rotarian?
We are working to develop regional membership plans to help this happen. These plans are to be culturally appropriate to local situations and provide ideas and support to bring this goal to reality. These are important tools with which to build and strengthen membership. We are looking for ways to help clubs remain vibrant and engaging. This is important in retaining members long term. But all of this is aimed at one thing: encouraging Rotarians to invite others to join Rotary.
In August, I wrote to the class of 2013–14 Governors asking each of them to bring in a new member before the 2013 International Assembly. If the ‘Class of 2013–14’ meets this challenge we will do something extraordinary in the annals of Rotary history. I told them, “We can distinguish ourselves as the first class ever to have every District Governor-elect sponsor a member. And, while we may not always be the only class to do it, we will always be the first class.”
Membership will be a major focus in all the training these incoming governors will receive. It is a topic that will receive significant attention at the International Assembly and beyond. I believe we are on the right path. But it requires the commitment and follow-through of every Rotarian in every club in every community around the world to really make a lasting impact on our membership numbers.
What would happen if just 3 people in each club invited one new member each month for a year? We would have over 1.2 million new members in just one year!
Rotary is an important part of the lives of the 1.2 million Rotarians of today. It is up to us to share the benefits and rewards of Rotary membership with another 1.2 million people. The world needs Rotary and Rotary needs committed and energetic Rotarians. Don’t hide or hoard the gift of Rotary. If every Rotary were to share that gift with just one other person, the results would be amazing