General Information

Red Text bears a link to reference Rotatorials.

Retention Central is monitored occasionally by its creator, Jim Henry, who may be contacted by email at

Sunday, June 29, 2014


"Why Rotary?" today is the same as "Why Rotary?" in its early, growing years.  Historically, Rotary International (RI) centered on Who Rotarians Were - diverse local groups of business, professional, and community leaders with creative minds that connected to make their communities and the world better by advancing the Object of Rotary.
       In the 1980s, Rotary (RI & TRF) moved off center and began concentrating on what Rotarians do; the results of Who Rotarians Are.  In the 1990s Rotary began internally marketing that the Objects of Rotary and Avenues of Service were equally important; that Rotary was, first and foremost, a service organization.  In reality, performing community or international service projects is not a differentiating reason to join a local Rotary club.  Thousands of organizations create and support local and international health, hunger, and humanitarian projects and programs. Millions of neighbors and world citizens, without joining anything, volunteer to pick up trash and to serve in schools, hospitals, libraries, museums, zoos, food lines, packing food, food banks, etc.
     The first Object of Rotary, developing acquaintances (membership) is, or at least should be, Rotary's number one priority, simply because without Rotarians it will not exist.  To demonstrate the importance of this "Why Rotary?" fundamental, consider examining Rotary's worldwide service project - polio eradication.  Going it alone, the World Health Organization (WHO), after spending $US billions, had little success in conquering polio.  Why did Rotary leaders believe their involvement with the WHO would make eliminating polio possible?  Did they intend to have Rotarians put two little drops of the polio vaccine on the tongues of all children in the world?  Of course not!  Those Rotary leaders believed that Rotarians - independent business, professional, and community leaders of different ethnicities, religious orders, genders, economic systems, generations, and political structures - had the vision and desire to accomplish a goal that not just anybody could.  Today, the task is almost complete primarily because Rotarians used, and continue to use, their imaginative minds, personal resources, and leadership skills to influence local and national tribal, religious, and political leaders to commit to freeing their children from polio.  In the mean time, using the same skill sets, they raised billions of $US to support the effort.

Who Rotarians Are! That's Rotary's Value Proposition - That's Rotary's Brand - And that's "Why Rotary?"  Rotary clubs are local diverse groups of business, professional, and community leaders with creative minds who, through fellowship, connect and make their communities and the world better!  That's also why a select few people continue to be attracted to the Rotary brand.  Solving why they are not staying appears to be a more formidable task than eliminating polio.  Rotary needs creative minds now more than ever!  Where are they?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What Is Rotary?

This is an interesting question.  All to often, when asked "What is Rotary?" Rotarians, including prominent leaders, blah-blah-blah and, within ten or fifteen seconds, usually lose the attention of the person asking.  The person asking may, out of courtesy, continue to hear sounds but their brain shuts down listening to the words being said.  Please click here to read why it is critical to properly respond to the question.

Okay, now you know why the person who asked "What is Rotary?" stopped listening and what to do about it.  For a sampling of some brief responses that catch the attention of target audiences, who may or may not have asked the question, please click here.

Finally, to learn one way Rotary leaders at all levels would have a greater chance to respond with confidence when asked "What is Rotary?" please click here.

Friday, June 20, 2014

New Rotary Logo - - I like it!

This may come as a surprise, but I like the new logo!  My favorite old-fashion Rotary symbol is in this BLOG's header.  But examine it and our new logo from a non-Rotarian's point of view.  My favorite symbol, when it is on a banner like this or a letterhead, the words "Rotary International" are legible.  But let's assume a non-Rotarian is driving and glances at a project sign, billboard or a sign like the one pictured.  Unless they have had some interconnection with the Rotary Organism it represents, how could they mentally connect the emblem with anything Rotary?
    A logo is not a brand - it is a symbol that represents the organization's brand promises. To Rotary advocates, either logo will stimulate an emotional reaction.  But our Retention and Growth Rates have been broadcasting that we - Rotarians, clubs, districts, zones, Rotary International, and The Rotary Foundation - have not, particularly in North America, been communicating and delivering brand promises that connect the symbol to our target audiences.   The Seigel+Gale Research report and many previous Rotatorials on this BLOG tell us why.  The first and foremost reason is that the Rotary Organism cannot agree on what business it is in or who its target audiences are.  Therefore, as of about thirty years ago, there was no way the Organism could communicate and deliver its brand promises because brands are authenticated only by target audiences!
   With this new logo, we have a visual opportunity to attract attention to Rotary.  Only when Rotary leaders - club by club; district by district; zone by zone; leader by leader; R.I. and TRF - agree that the Organism's primary purpose is to create Rotarians can the Rotary brand be revitalized.  Only then will it be possible for our target audiences to link the Rotary symbol with the Rotary WHY Factor - Who Rotarians Are.
So let's all take this opportunity to acknowledge that the Rotary  Organism's primary purpose is to create Rotarians and that our target audiences are present and future Rotarians, not the general public.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Engaging Rotarians is Not Enough

   Rotarians are engaged mentally and physically every time they pay their dues, attend a meeting, and/or lend a hand.  This is okay, but it simply is not good enough to grow membership.  To grow, the Rotary Organism must look beyond engagement and earn emotional commitments - the time when, as many loyal advocates say, they became Rotarians.  Advocates think long and hard before casting their Rotary membership aside.  Helping engaged members to journey from engaged to loyal advocacy is a must because loyal advocates will, for longer times:
  • support their club, Rotary International (R.I.), and The Rotary Foundation (TRF),
  • are proud to share their Rotary experiences within their micro-communities, and
  • are pleased to propose peers for membership. 
   The first step in earning loyal advocacy from supporters begins with the Rotary Organism being loyal to its supporters: R.I. being loyal to and supporting its member clubs; and clubs being loyal to and supporting engaged members and loyal advocates.  To do this, clubs require awareness, encouragement, training, and support from R.I. greater than ever before.  Rotary leaders are very good at telling clubs the oft repeated cliché "This isn't your grandfather's Rotary club any more."  Well "The association isn't our grandfather's association any more" either.   This is particularly true when it comes to R.I.'s only purpose - creating Rotarians from the world in which we now live, which also "isn't our grandfather's world any more."  Creating advocates today requires Marketing throughout the Rotary Organism because effective Marketing will help create advocates whose word-of-mouth communications and impact-creating activities are more valuable and will do more to improve membership than all the billboards, community service spots, or logo changes can ever aspire to do.  And there is only one way to measure success in creating advocates:  Retention AND Growth Rates (RG Indexes).

Want a relatively easy way to determine whether or not your club is creating advocates?  Ask members a question similar to a question I answered: "What is the most memorable Rotary-inspired experience that has happened to you since you joined your club?"  You, the reader, might give this a thought as well.  My response is on page 2, last paragraph, of the SMILE, the Rotary Club of Sarasota's weekly newsletter, available at this link.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Creating Rotarians is Gaining Priority

   According to General Secretary John Hewko's address to the business session at the Rotary International (R.I.) Convention in Sydney, creating Rotarians is closing in on its appropriate R.I. priority, second only to polio eradication.  Secretary Hewko said, quote" . . . without members, there would be no Rotary." While I absolutely support  polio eradication, it is The Rotary Foundation's (TRF) top priority, not R.I's.  (Wonder where polio eradication would be without Rotarians; those who created TRF and undertook the polio eradication challenge?) Creating Rotarians, according to the R.I. Code of Policies, should be R.I.'s top priority, not to mention is necessary for its survival.  Only by continually creating Rotarians can the Rotary organism undertake other worldwide challenges.
   Rotary historians, if they critically examine data and literature, will most likely conclude that membership began leveling off, and dropping in North America, when R.I. began referring to itself and its member clubs as service organizations populated by volunteers doing good things instead of being a worldwide association of Rotary clubs; local networks of business, professional, and community leaders advancing the Object of Rotary.  Big difference!  Huge difference! Gigantic Marketing difference! 
    The good news is that priorities, attitudes, and budgets are changing.  However, I will actually believe that creating Rotarians is nearing its appropriate priority when, in the hearts, minds, and budgets of all Rotary leaders:
  • specialized training and prestigious recognition is given to district membership chairs;
  • specialized support from R.I. helps districts and clubs with demographic data bases;
  • clubs with high RG Indexes receive higher recognition than those that meet TRF giving goals;
  • public information begins recognizing who it is that does all the wonderful things Rotary clubs do;
  • R.I., in all public information, including its web site, differentiates Rotarians from the almost 7 billion citizens of the world, virtually all of whom who have neighbors, but only a select few are community leaders.
  • differentiation between Rotarians, Rotary clubs, and volunteers in other service organizations exists and is recognized;
  • all RI Presidents, Directors, Staff, TRF Trustees, Coordinators, District Governors, and Club Presidents can in principle uniformly respond when asked, What is Rotary?”

But the Angry Rotarian is cracking a smile because creating Rotarians does appear to be approaching its appropriate priority.  Perhaps creating Rotarians and TRF donors will soon become the entire Rotary Organism's responsibility, not supposedly just its member clubs.