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Last year was last year.  Now is the time to look forward to refresh successful activities of the past as appropriate and to initiate new ideas to ensure future successes.
The energy of Rotary comes from the collective energy of its members. In large and small ways, how we support one another and work cooperatively on projects is how we ‘do good in the world’.

However, we all have our ups and downs, and Rotary clubs are no different. Sometimes there is harmony, good humour, fun and effective projects in which we all take pride, and sometimes there are disengagement issues that affect everyone and may prevent progress. There are also some clubs that depend on a few people to do too much, which can result in volunteer burnout.  It is important therefore that we focus on the wellbeing of our existing members, as well as those we look to bring in to the club.  After all, new members provide energy, enthusiasm, skills and passion, which drive Rotary clubs forward.

Membership in Rotary worldwide is a vital focus and is the reasons August’s theme is Membership Month.

Across Australia and New Zealand, Clubs recruit 12% new members every year, but lose 15% of members every year. This is not a path to the future, added to which our club membership is ageing. We simply must change our model to be relevant in a world which has changed dramatically. Another alarming statistic is that 40% of new members leave within their first two years.  Why?

During the current health crisis, every corner of society is rethinking its priorities, core values and future directions. It is not a matter of just bunkering down and coming out to the same world we had before. It is essential that each Rotary club reassesses and reimagines what it should be like in the future. Here are some suggestions on how to revitalise your club:

  • Discuss your club plan in a club forum. Use Zoom breakouts to allow smaller group discussions, as well as whole club discussions. Perhaps use a Start/Stop/Continue format (see breakout box)

  • Modernise your meeting format and schedule in variety:

    • Face-to-face/hybrid with some in person, some online, projects, events and vocational visits.  Mix it up.

    • Reduce costs involved in meals, travel and time expectations.

    • Do Rotary business online for efficiency, but have social events for members and families.

  • Update your club Constitution and Bylaws. These have been made available free to clubs by lawyer and Rotarian David Whiting and include some flexibility:

    • Consider a Satellite club option for 8 or more new members in a different format to the main club, but which is still part of the main club.

    • Investigate new membership categories of Corporate (for businesses wishing to support Rotary and provide development for their younger leaders), Associate members and Family members (clubs can use these as a volunteer resource as supporters, and as a transitional role into active membership) and retention of members facing major challenges.

  • Develop a wider view of Rotary participation that includes regular and ad hoc volunteer activities, making them part of the broader Rotary family.

  • Reach out to support or start Rotaract, Interact or Earlyact clubs in your community, secondary or primary schools.

  • Investigate event-based, hands-on projects to engage potential volunteers and members. An example is Rotary is adding ‘Supporting the Environment’ as a new Area of Focus. Get started with something local and build on it over time, with local government, other clubs, and stakeholders in your community.

  • Investigate project partnerships with organisations where the club is under-represented, e.g. local Indian, Chinese or other ethnic groups.

  • Investigate personal and club opportunities to engage in the internationality of Rotary through Rotary Action Groups, Fellowships, sister-club relationships, etc. Find a speaker to present to your members on these aspects.

Finally, take care of your current members. Many are at risk of anxiety, financial stress and social isolation. Stay in touch, as a friendly phone call is welcomed by everyone.