Thoughts of Rotary Leaders:John Hewko
General Secretary, Rotary International.
In the early years of Rotary, the growth of our organisation was phenomenal. From one club with just four members, we grew in a matter of decades to an organisation of 1.2 million members in over 34,000 clubs. From the very beginning, Rotary has never had a problem with attracting new members. The problem, right from the start, often has been with keeping them. Of the first four members of the first Rotary club, two left. And even today, Rotary attracts about 1,20,000 new members each year—the same number it loses. If we could find a way to keep all of those new members in Rotary, our growth today would rival our growth in the days of Paul Harris—and our organisation would be capable of so much more.
Identifying the barriers to membership growth is the first step; overcoming them is the second. In order to proceed effectively, we must have information on which to act, and this means talking openly and honestly with our members. Why did each of them come to Rotary, and what were they seeking? Have they found what they came for?
Rotarians decide whether or not to remain in Rotary based on their own equation of value versus cost. What do they get out of Rotary membership, and what does it cost them, in terms of resources, time away from work and family and other responsibilities? Our goal must be ensuring that Rotary always gives its members more than it demands — that the satisfactions of Rotary service always outweigh its costs. If we can achieve this, then our future will be bright indeed.