Why Organization's Fail

Rotary didn't stop developing membership because people were not interested in joining local Rotary clubs. Recent membership metrics have proven that. It stopped growing because Rotary and its member clubs became product oriented instead of member oriented. They marketed the results of the Object of Rotary instead of its value to its member clubs and Rotarians - its customers - those who fund its operations.

Red Text Note

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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.