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.