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.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rotary's Target Audiences

Sources indicate that the average Rotarian's age has remained at 58 for the last one or two decades.  Some say this is not good for membership; that the average age should be lower.  Others disagree. This is a critical issue because it relates to the demographics and psychographics of Rotary's target audiences and where resources should be dedicated if Rotary wants to return to a steady growth state.  So let's examine Rotary history and North American demographics.
     In 1905, when Paul Harris founded Rotary, he was in his 37th year.  According to the US Bureau of Statistics at that time, the average 37-year-old could expect to live another 30 years - or to age 67 (Paul Harris left Rotary and the world at 79-42 years after founding Rotary; 12 years beyond life expectancy.) Today, a 37-year-old male is expected to live 42 more years - or to age 79.  Female life expectancy is four years longer.  So what would be the expected Rotarian Lifetime Value (RLV) of a 37-year-old should they be retained in Rotary until health required them to leave? Retained Rotarians, if properly appreciated, become loyal Rotary advocates.  Word of mouth is the best advertising any organization can get.

   What about non-Rotarian target audiences?  Sound business acumen must prevail when projecting Rotary's public messaging and images to any target audience.  In the United States, when identifying non-Rotarian target audiences, one must, among other issues, examine the work force. According to this graphic, eighty-seven percent of its employed citizens are over 26 years old.  Rotary's Messaging Guidelines suggests that Rotarians should be leaders who are defined, not by labels or titles, but by mindsets and approaches.  Developing these personal psychometrics generally takes time and experience, as does generating expendable time and resources.  So today, Rotary's prime U.S., non-Rotarian target audience most likely begins somewhere in the upper portion of the X generation, perhaps slightly older than Paul Harris when he founded Rotary.  What would be their RLV should they join and remain in Rotary until health issues determined otherwise?

Rotary's prime target audience has to be its existing members.  Resources must be dedicated to retaining and helping them become Rotary advocates.  This initiative, accompanied by consistent Rotary messaging communicating who Rotarians are, will help return Rotary membership to a steady growth state.