General Information

Red Text bears a link to reference Rotatorials.

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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

105 - Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals - Rotary's Position/Mission Statement.

In this series, Rotary refers to the enterprise of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.
Please review Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals 101, 102A, 102B, 103 & 104.

Please refer to the Marketing Rotary Schematic available at this link.  Previous Rotatorials discuss marketing issues that take place in the schematic's darker shades of blue - Rotary's leadership.  Before making the marketing jump to where the action is - local communities throughout the world - Rotary must undertake a critical task: create a sustainable unified directional philosophy, or position/mission statement, a Rotary identifying idea around which everyone from the international president to the newest Rotarian can rally.
   So let's assume that Rotary leaders have agreed on an easy-to-communicate, universally acceptable position/mission statement that embodies the Object of Rotary and appeals to like-minded people regardless of their gender, generation, ethnicity, religion, or political orientation; a statement similar to:

    Implanting, nourishing, and sustaining this idea in existing and potential Rotarians' minds will take more than rah-rah speeches, website visits, advertising, and newsletters.  It takes using the dynamic power of networks and knowing how to translate information into concepts and actions.  The Rotary world is a dynamic, established network. Rotary already has important information buried in its history and cyberspace.  But does it have the will and know-how to translate the information into actions that could create Rotarians today and in the future?  Forward-thinking mindsets, prioritizing an Internal Marketing initiative centered on creating Rotarians, could lead the way in breaking down Rotary's internal silos and embedded legacy practices
   For example, Rotary clubs must produce value locally to attract members from communities.  For years Rotary has had data showing that ten-year Rotarians contribute approximately 350% more per capita to the foundation than two-year Rotarians. This data was not translated into language that could have been used to help leaders make important strategic decisions; to help retain members.  North America, the foundation's most supportive continent, has lost membership for two decades yet continues to be the foundation's largest contributor.  Historically its Zone Institutes, Governors-elect and multi-district Presidents-elect Training Seminars have been foundation show and tells.  Suppose Internal Marketing had translated and communicated existing information into promotional language and educational sessions that encouraged North American clubs to use foundation programs and grants to produce value in their communities?  Would its clubs have captured more value through increased retention, attraction, and growth rates?  Through more contributions to the foundation?

   A simple, unifying position/mission statement would make it much easier to create and sustain Internal, and External, Marketing initiatives centered on helping clubs produce and capture value i.e. create Rotarians.

Next is Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals 106 - Producing and Capturing Value.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

104 - Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals - Why Rotary?

In this series, Rotary refers to the enterprise of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.
Please review Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals 101, 102A, 102B & 103.

    Whether it is a group of people considering applying to Rotary International (RI) for a charter or an individual considering accepting the invitation to become a member of a local Rotary club, they will require an answer to this thought - Why Rotary?  The answer today is the same as it has been for over a century.  From Rotary's inception, membership in a Rotary club related to the needs of those who had strong desires to network with others to make their lives and communities better.  Marketing Rotary to these people would be much easier if Rotary used as its directional philosophy in public messagingRotarians make the world better . . . one community at a time emphasizing Who Rotarians Are regionally.  Clubs could use the same public messaging tag line, reinforcing Who Rotarians Are.    
   Note the simplicity and brand identity of this forever-relevant approach.  Rotarians throughout the world want to and do make their personal lives and communities better in many ways:  employing people, starting new companies and/or organizations, networking with others who have similar desires, serving their communities in many ways, etc.  They want to have a better understanding of where they live; to have self-fulfilling peak experiences while helping others do the same.  This is Who Rotarians Are. Rotary's messaging should not be directed toward everyone in every community or every citizen of the world!  It should only be directed and relevant to those who would seek a response to Why Rotary?
   The response must be universal and communicate the same philosophy to locals everywhere, which is why spot messaging should be closer to the clubs.  For example, examine Rotary's polio eradication initiative and how it relates to the world population today.  For the last twenty-five years, people of Southeastern Asia and Africa can relate to polio because they have been, and some still currently are, directly affected by it.  Rotary clubs throughout these regions made, and some still are making, their communities better by eliminating the scourge.  Locals can relate because they lived through the initiative led by Rotary.  But to the populations in North and South America, Australia, The Philippines, and Europe polio is ancient history.  On these continents, most people under sixty simply do not relate to polio.  But clubs could create locally appealing responses to Why Rotary? by basing their public image messaging on Who Rotarians Are and how they have made and are making their communities better.

So Why Rotary?  Because Rotarians make the world better . . . one community at a time!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Rotary Headline News

NEWS FLASH - The RI Board officially recognizes that membership development and retention is RI's most important internal issue and acknowledges the urgency of membership development and retention to the future of Rotary. 

Here is an excerpt from pages 4 & 5 of the October 2014 Board Meeting Minutes:

44. Support Structure for Membership Efforts

Statement: Noting that membership development and retention is RI's most important internal issue, the Operations Review Committee reviewed Rl's governance structure supporting membership development and retention efforts over the last 20 years. The committee suggested several strategies for strengthening this governance structure.

DECISION: The Board receives the Operations Review Committee's recommendations regarding the governance support structure for Rotary's membership development and retention efforts and:
 1.  acknowledges the urgency of membership development and retention to the future of Rotary and the need for a stable governance support structure to support these initiatives;
 2.  requests the president to appoint a committee of three to five directors to study the following membership support-related proposals for report to the Board at its May 2015 meeting:

a. the creation of a new volunteer leadership team to focus on membership and retention issues that provides for the possibility of continuity of membership on the leadership team, such group to serve as clearing house for all membership development and retention proposals that come from Rotary committees;

b. to ensure continuity of leadership at the district level, modified terms of reference for the district membership chair to provide for a three year term in manner similar to the district Rotary Foundation committee chair;

c. an enhanced volunteer structure at the local level to support membership development and retention initiatives;

d. the development of a pilot program in select areas of the world that would provide for local and regional staff to assist clubs and districts in implementing membership development and retention initiatives.

The Board should make the membership support-related proposals mentioned readily available for analyses by all interested Rotarians and should encourage written comments.  Without such transparency and involvement, there remains a possibility that legacy inbreeding could sidetrack this Board's membership initiative as the 2003 Board's action was ignored when it wrote into the Rotary Code of Policies ". . . that the development and continuation of activities and programs addressing membership must remain the association's highest priority.  The association and its clubs must remain focused on all aspects of membership.  (May 2003 Mtg., Bd. Dec. 324) Source: February2003 Mtg., Bd., Dec. 261.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

103 - Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals - Internal Marketing to District Governors

In this series, Rotary refers to the enterprise of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.
Please review Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals 101, 102A and 102B.

    Rotary's purpose is to create Rotarians by advancing the Object of Rotary.  District Governors (DG) must buy into Rotary's purpose in order to be able to influence clubs in their districts accordingly.  That would be one of Internal Marketing's (IM) major roles because DGs are on the front lines in the battle to create Rotarians. They are club advisers, but have no authority over clubs.  Their only tools are influence, persuasion, and support from Rotary.  To use these tools effectively they must be prepared to handle the obstacles they will face, like being able to respond with confidence to questions similar to:
  • What is Rotary?
  • What is Rotary's purpose?
  • Who are Rotary's target audiences?
  • Why would the target audiences want to join and/or stay in a Rotary club? 
  • Are Rotary clubs volunteer service organizations or civic clubs?
  • If a Rotarian is moving to another location, can they automatically join the club of their choice?
  • What is the rule of 85?
    These and similar topics should be addressed at Governors-Elect Training Seminars (GETS) and the International Assembly (IA).  One of IM's most important initiatives would be to help prepare these sessions' conveners, guest speakers, and trainers. Only then will the perceptual gap that exists between Rotary and its target audiences begin to narrow.
   DGs are responsible for training leaders within their district, including presidents-elect (PE).  Rotary literature supports DGs with this responsibility.  Another major IM role would be to assure that Rotary literature centers on Rotary's purpose and is prepared from the points of view of district personnel, PEs and clubs.  For example, Rotary's Club President's Manual (222-EN (312)) defines an effective club as one that is able to:
  1. sustain or increase its membership base,
  2. implement successful projects that address the needs of its community and communities in other countries,
  3. support the Rotary Foundation through both program participation and financial contributions, and
  4. develop leaders capable of serving in Rotary beyond the club level.
Many PEs smirk when they first read this four-point definition because it is clearly written from Rotary's point of view.  Most PEs have common sense.  They know their clubs are doing something right if they sustain and/or increase membership.  The other three elements promote attributes and opportunities that might help attract and retain Rotarians, but to be listed as essential to qualify as an effective club is elementary and detracts from the Object of Rotary.  There is one, and only one, definition of an effective Rotary club:  an effective Rotary club creates Rotarians  i.e. attracts and retains members.

Next is Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals 104 - Why Rotary?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

102B - Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals - 'Them' - Present and Future

In this series, Rotary refers to the enterprise of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.
Please review Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals 101 - Introduction and 102A.

How can Rotary improve its present and future Retention, Attraction, and Growth Rates?  Simple.

Internal Marketing!

   Rotary's purpose is to create Rotarians by advancing the Object of Rotary.  That should also be Rotary's mission.  The goal of Internal Marketing (IM) is to align every aspect of Rotary operations to assure that each delivers value toward achieving Rotary's purpose and mission.
   The Siegel+Gale research findings clearly showed that the perceptual gap between what Rotary is and what Rotary's target audience perceives it to be is two to three times larger than it should be.  It also discovered that Rotary leaders do not have a clear vision of what Rotary is because, when asked, most responded with Ummm.  The only way these types of issues can be solved is through implementing a permanent IM initiative. 
   When examined with a critical eye, Rotary's purpose passes annually through the President of Rotary International, 550+ Secretariat employees, 17 Directors, 15 Trustees, 34 Zone Rotary Coordinators, 34 Zone TRF Coordinators, 34 Zone Public Image Coordinators, the Web Site, Monthly magazines and newsletters, 530 District Governors, 530 District Trainers, over 4,000 District Committee chairs, and countless blogs, tweets, Facebook postings to almost 35,000 club officers and committee chairs and over 1.2 million Rotarians.  No wonder Rotary messaging, as demonstrated in the children's party game played around the world, Chinese Whispers or Gossip, has little resemblance to Rotary's purpose when it finally reaches local clubs and Rotarians.
   IM's perpetual goal would be to make sure that every associate knows that Rotary's purpose is to create Rotarians by participating in Rotary's Circle of Life, the Object of Rotary.  Are all operations listed in the adjacent graphic necessary?  Are they centered on helping Rotary associates deliver value supporting Rotary's purpose?  When asked, "What is Rotary?" how will present and future Rotary associates, including directors, district governors, and zone coordinators respond?  Will the perceptual gap between Rotary and present and future target audiences close, remain the same, or widen?

An effective IM program could narrow the gap.  Without such a program, Rotary associates cannot continually deliver consistent value toward achieving Rotary's purpose - creating Rotarians - simply because they do not know, or buy into, Rotary's purpose.  Not only will resources expended on external marketing be wasted, Rotary's future will be in jeopardy.

Next is Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals 103 - More Internal Marketing