“Let’s remember that while charity has a mixed record of helping others, it has an almost perfect record of helping ourselves. Helping others may be as primal as food or sex.” Columnist Nicholas Kristof.
Any organization confused about who their customers are and what it takes to satisfy their needs is an organization in trouble, and many Rotary clubs are in trouble. Make no mistake about it – a Rotary's customers are present and potential members, and foundation’s customers are its present and potential donors. Members and donors are generally motivated by enlightened self-interest.
In membership development and planning sessions, participants often confuse beneficiaries with members. Beneficiaries (recipients, receivers, donees) are those who receive humanitarian and/or educational benefit from projects and programs. It is important that attendees resolve this confusion because long-term growth must revolve around satisfying existing member’s needs and attracting new members – not beneficiaries – members.
Fishy Fantasies can cause havoc in organizations. One Fishy Fantasy that often invades the minds of leaders of successful organizations is, "An increasingly affluent society will ensure the organization’s growth.” This is a fantasy because in this type society, organizations’ leaders often assume that they do not have to be innovative and concentrate on improving what they are already doing. What actually happens is that they get better at what they are doing rather than improving the value of what they are doing to their customer.
In Rotary, it is important to get better at delivering deeds to beneficiaries, but regardless of whether the deed is administering a vaccine, building a local playground, or awarding a Peace or Ambassadorial scholarship, its lasting fundamental value, altruism, lies in how it improves members’ enlightened self-interest. So how does the deed deliver this altruistic value? It engages their emotional connection to the organization; it makes them feel like they are somebody; not just another 'volunteer'; not just anybody. It gives members the warm fuzzy that they are contributing to someone else’s well-being; it recognizes them as being a contributing member to their local and international communities; it gives them self-respect. It engages their self-esteem.
Please refer to the Building Community graphic. Engaged members participating in the Productive Zone make it possible for Rotarians and clubs to Build Communities and Bridge Continents. Members will stay engaged if clubs continually present opportunities for them to exercise their altruism and frequently enlighten their self-interest by acknowledging their generosity. That is improving a deed’s value to the member.
The differentiation between members and beneficiaries and recognizing the altruistic value of a deed is vitally important across the complete spectrum of Rotary operations. Consider public relations. R.I. and its member clubs should direct public information efforts toward is most important audience – its customer. A minimal Rotary public relations campaign must enlighten Rotarians’ self-interest. An effective public relations campaign should also enlighten potential members’ self-interest. A superb public relations campaign accomplishes both and informs the public about who Rotarians are and what they do.
Its customers Existing and Potential Rotarians
Its objective Advance The Object of Rotary
Its motto Service above Self
Its creed The Four Way Test
Critically examine the basic human behavioral principles of the objective, motto, and creed. It becomes easy to recognize that it is Rotarians’
Enlightened Self-Interest that makes Rotary go ‘Round.
To improve membership development, R.I. and its clubs should recognize this behavioral reality, continue to search for innovative ways to engage members’ desire to exercise Service above Self, then frequently recognize them for who they are individually and as a group, and thank them for their altruism and achievements.
That’s “improving the deed’s value to the customer.”