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

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Rotary Leader Membership Information

Big Data can work for or against attaining goals.  Complicated reports, which are all too common in this electronic age, can work against goals because few leaders will bother to filter and manipulate the data to get information they consider important. Useful reports should be simple, accurate, and furnish only the information necessary to help make decisions.  Rotary International's (R.I.) purpose is to create Rotarians.  Its membership reports should be simple, accurate, and easily accessible.

As a Past District Governor and former Rotary Coordinator, a report similar to the one pictured would have been wonderful.  In the pictured report names are fictitious and membership numbers representative.   Note that the report presents club presidents and district leaders with comparative numbers.  It also presents Directors and Coordinators with a clear Zone Membership Status.
   In this report, which club(s) should be recognized for membership achievements?  Which club(s) could use assistance in what action - retention or attraction? What would be helpful educational programs for Directors, Coordinators, District Governors, Presidents, Membership chairs?
Check out the total Regional and R.I. Rates, Indexes, and the Net Losses of Rotarians.  If this type information had been given to Directors twenty years ago, is there any chance R.I.'s strategic planning would have taken a different direction?  So simple yet so potentially effective.
(The Excel Spreadsheet pictured is available upon request.)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Angry Rotarian has morphed into A Hopeful Rotarian!

Earlier this year, the Angry Rotarian was asked, "What would it take for the Angry Rotarian to become the Hopeful Rotarian?" Well, it has happened!  According to my sources, Rotary International President Elect (RIPE) K.R. Ravindran, at the Multi-District Presidents-Elect Training Seminar Alliance, said, "RI must encourage the clubs to run their clubs in the same manner they would run their respective businesses; that they should put in systems they would if their businesses were running off its customers by selling a bad product or providing poor customer service."
     These may not be RIPE Ravindran's exact words, but close enough!  At last, one of those who represent all Rotarians recognizes that R.I. is a member-supported not-for-profit business and that Rotarians, dues paying members, are its customers, the ones R.I. should be encouraging its member clubs to serve, instead of continually expecting the members to serve clubs, R.I. or TRF.  This solves two of the major obstacles that have been preventing R.I. and its members clubs from concentrating efforts on creating Rotarians and should help R.I. overcome its Sisyphus Complex.
     Many challenges remain, but R.I. should now work toward eliminating silos by having all efforts centered on creating Rotarians.  One immediate, low cost way would be to get Big Data working toward creating Rotarians by furnishing and publishing for all Rotarians to see - without going through Rotary Club Central - simplified but vital membership information. This should include Retention Rates, Growth Rates and RG Indexes for clubs, districts, zones, and regions.   All Rotarians and Rotary Associates must be aware of how many customers are being attracted and run off. In addition, for planning and budgeting R.I. Directors, TRF Trustees, and all Coordinators should be aware of  RLVs (Rotarian Lifetime Values.)
These are a few of the many changes that may be on the horizon now that senior leaders like RIPE Ravindran recognize who should be serving whom.  I am happy to be signing off as A Hopeful Rotarian.  Perhaps many readers will join me in that category.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Most organizations falter because of management errors.  Rotary's most critical error was, and somewhat still is, expecting loyalty from supporters (those who finance operations) instead of recognizing that, to advance the Object of Rotary, Rotary needs supporters more than its supporters need Rotary.  So let's make it very clear that, for Rotary to survive the 21st Century:
  • A Rotary club's supporters are present and future members!
  • Rotary International (R.I.) supporters are present and future clubs and their members!
  • The Rotary Foundation (TRF) supporters are present and future donors!
    Beginning during the last two decades of the previous century, the Rotary gradually developed today's Top Down Syndrome:  a culture expecting Rotarians and clubs to support R.I. and TRF.  It took a few years, but Rotary's membership doldrums, fed by North America's membership decline, reflected this cultural change.  Unfortunately, Rotary leaders were not getting the information they needed to make healthy management decisions.
    Past Director John Smarge's 2011 International Assembly presentation clearly pointed out that the problem was not attracting supporters, it was retaining them.  R.I. now calculates and reports Retention Rates, which is very important.  But R.I. still does not calculate, report, or recognize the importance of Growth Rates or RG (Retention+Growth) Indexes, Rotary's most important membership-related metrics.  Supporters constantly feed all necessary information into R.I.'s cyber space but, because of excuses, compiling and reporting it back to leaders does not have the appropriate priority.  Leaders probably have not demanded this data, again because of lack of appropriate information:  they have not been made aware of the estimated present and future value of each and every Rotarian, the variables of which are also available somewhere in the Rotary's cyber space. 

Only when leaders at all levels start receiving the information and training needed to minimize management errors will they begin to discover innovative ways to create a steady flow of loyal supporters or, in plain words, grow Rotary.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Rotary Network - Will it Survive the Twenty-first Century?

Almost half of the twenty-five (25) companies that were in Tom Peters and Robert Waterman's 1982 book, "In Search of Excellence," no longer exist, are in bankruptcy, or have performed poorly.

According to research from Professor Gary Biddle, University of Hong Kong, only seventy-four (74) of the original Standard and Poor's (S&P) 500 organizations created in 1957 are still on the list.  Only twelve (12) have outperformed the S&P index.

Did the leadership (founders, executives, directors, etc) of the organizations at the gate or already entombed in the Organization Cemetery deliberately lead their companies down that path?  Probably not.  So what happened?  The prime reason is, of course, management mistakes.  All of those leaders were, or still are, intelligent people.  Upon further analysis, the majority of the reasons for their many and varied mistakes fall into these categories:
  • They failed to recognize that their organization's prime purpose was to create and communicate (talk and listen) with those who fund operations - customers - by knowing and satisfying their reasons for supporting the organization i.e. the business they were actually in.
  • They did not get the information they needed to make crucial decisions, and
  • When given the facts, they made or accepted excuses instead of uncovering and addressing critical issues.
Is the future of the Rotary Network (Rotary International, its member clubs, and The Rotary Foundation) already written in a tombstone?  
Are all levels of management getting the information they need to make vital decisions?

Are all levels of the Rotary Network's management facing its critical issues head on or are they making excuses (it's the economy; that's not in the budget; it's not our responsibility; that's not the way we do it; we've never done that; that's not my responsibility; we didn't know that; we don't know how) and the list of excuses goes on, on, on, on?