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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Part II - Supporting The Rotary Foundation Should Help Clubs Retain Members. Does It?

When funding Global Grants, The Rotary Foundation's (TRF) policy is to match District Designated Funds (DDF) contributions $1 for $1 and cash contributions $.50 for $1.  That's fair.  But let's say a club would like to partner with an International district to fund a $40,000 Global Grant.  The club is in a district whose TRF committee has the following requirements for clubs to use DDF so they could obtain a $1 for $1 match from TRF: 
  1. Clubs must contribute $100 per capita to The Rotary Foundation's Annual Fund (AF) just to be eligible to apply to use DDF, and
  2. Clubs must contribute to the AF an additional $1 for each $1 DDF it wishes to use for Global or Local Grants.
For simplification in this example, in each scenario the International District partner will use its DDF for its portion of the proposed $40,000 grant.  Here are two scenarios the club should consider:
In the second scenario, the local club would save $7,250 by-passing contributing to the AF or attempting to use DDF during the Grant's funding year!  Upon further analysis, in districts where TRF committees operate with comparable requirements, clubs with 48 or fewer members may find applying to use DDF beneficial, but larger clubs would clearly be better off not doing so.   
Shouldn't all TRF and district policies be examined from clubs' points of view as well as TRF's and the district's?  For example, the local district in the sample scenarios requires that only clubs contributing $100 or more per capita to the AF are even eligible to apply to use DDF.  The district probably intended this to be an incentive to encourage clubs to meet the goal of $100 Every Rotarian Every Year (EREY).  Is it possible that clubs, particularly those who have annually contributed to the AF but do not meet this requirement, would view it as an attempt to force an increase in contributions to the AF? As not being fair to them?  As being a penalty for not meeting a per capita goal set by the district, an RI creation; an RI associate that exists to serve RI's member clubs?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Part I - Supporting The Rotary Foundation Should Help Clubs Retain Members. Does It?

According to the Rotary International (RI) Code of Policies, RI, the association, ". . . represents, protects, encompasses, and promotes the interests of its membership, and it exists to serve the membership."  Rotary clubs are community based organizations.  From their local social fabrics they attract and retain dues paying members - local people with enterprising minds.  The Rotary Foundation (TRF) is an important and influential Rotary attribute.  So here is a critical question that should be thoroughly examined:  Does TRF help RI serve its membership?  It should.  It could.  But when critically analyzed, does it?  
    Members of local Rotary clubs the world over want to improve life for themselves, their families, their community, and the world - in that order.  So let's analyze a particular scenario of the Share System from a local North American club's viewpoint.  The club wants to fund a local $5,000 project that qualifies in one of Rotary's six areas of focus.  Like many clubs, it has been told that if the club fronts $2,500, the project may qualify for a $2,500 match from District Designated Funds (DDF).  That's plenty fair - a dollar-for-dollar match.  But is it really a dollar-for-dollar match?  This sample club, for instance, annually contributes $10,000 or more to the Annual Fund.  The $10,000 is divided into $5,000 for DDF, $4,500 for the World Fund, and $500 for administrative costs.  Again, that's fair. 
    According to TRF rules, 50% of DDF can be used for local projects.  Local club members, people with enterprising minds and without TRF branded on their brain, quickly calculate that the actual cost just to qualify, without any guarantees, to use DDF for its $5,000 project would be $12,500 ($10,000 three years ago + $2,500 to have on hand for a match.)
    Okay.  All Rotarians want to advance the fourth Object of Rotary and can do so by contributing to the World Fund.  No problem.  But under the above scenario isn't it only logical that local North American clubs in districts where TRF committees operate in similar fashion would think, "Let's just contribute $5,000 directly to the World Fund and use the other $5,000 for our local project now.  The World Fund gets $4,750 instead of $4,500, and we save $2,500 that can be used for other projects.  In addition, the club doesn't have to go through TRF and the district, wait three years, and then maybe get to use 25% of the $10,000 we contributed to TRF three years ago." Cap this thought process with the concept that some North American districts say that to be eligible to apply for DDF clubs must contribute $100 or more per capita to TRF's annual fund. So, getting logical once again wouldn't enterprising minds think along these lines: "Our first priority is to attract and retain members from our local social fabric.  How does this help us?"
Rotarians do like to support worthwhile projects throughout the world, but most, particularly new ones, want to make a difference in their local communities and, in our fast-paced world, do it with more speed and delivery. Records indicate that ten-year Rotarians donate 350% more per capita to TRF than two-year Rotarians.*  So shouldn't TRF be interested in helping clubs retain members?  Is that philosophical and marketing approach missing in TRF seminars throughout the world?

*For confirmation, ask the RI director representing your Zone.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rotary clubs' images of Rotary International.

  Businesses yesterday, today, and tomorrow knew and know that success is all about connecting and communicating with, and serving the needs of, those who fund operations.  Rotary International (RI) operations and a high percentage of the contributions to its charitable attribute, The Rotary Foundation (TRF), are funded by dues-paying members of RI's over 34,000 affiliated Rotary clubs.  To maximize its influence on clubs, RI should understand how clubs view it, which could be totally different than how RI thinks clubs (and their members) view it, or how RI views itself.  Clubs view RI images through touchpoint telescopes, and the touchpoints (interconnections, communications, etc.) either add value (reinforces the value of affiliation) or take up space (questions the value of affiliation).
   But, you say, RI is a bottom up organization; it doesn't touch clubs very often.  Believe it or not, clubs receive images of RI rather frequently.  For example, an image of RI is created every time directors, zone coordinators, district governors, district committee chairs and/or assistant governors communicate with or visit clubs, and when club officers and/or members:

  • attend district events, such assemblies, seminars, and conferences.
  • receive reports, requests, or any form of RI, Zone, or district communication.
  • visit or communicate electronically with anything RI, Zone, or district.
  • view any RI graphic, Tweet, Facebook post, or web site.
  • read any article about or by Rotary in magazines, periodicals, and news media.
  • request assistance from districts and/or RI.
    These are all RI touchpoints and heavily influence the image clubs (and their members) have of RI. Remember districts are RI creations; clubs view district representatives as RI associates educated and trained directly or indirectly by RI to serve the clubs.  For touchpoints to add value, those reflecting RI must understand what clubs consider important - being effective in their local social fabrics.  So let's talk about just one frequent RI touchpoint - a district governor's or district committee chair's club visit.    Do these visits add value to clubs?  They could.  They should.  All too frequently, they don't.  Why?  Generally because RI associates are not schooled on what local clubs and Rotarians consider important; advancing the Object of Rotary in their local social fabrics.  Too often these visits concentrate on promoting district, RI, and TRF attributes without considering whether or not these attributes add value to the club. Frequently local club members view these touchpoints as 'sales' pitches that take time and space - contribute little or no value to local clubs.
    The touchpoint telescope magnifies RI's image to its public - its member clubs.  To reinforce the value of having local groups of people with enterprising minds associate with RI, its touchpoints - all of them - must continually reflect its desire to serve the interest of its only customer, its member clubs, and how the association adds value to each and every club. This requires effective, continuous Internal Marketing so all RI associates understand who Rotarians are and how RI and its attributes can add value to clubs; can be used to help clubs in their endeavors to advance the Object of Rotary.  That would enhance RI's image and improve its ability to influence clubs.