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

Friday, March 27, 2015

Rotary's Future Vision - The Rotary Foundation wants to know your thoughts and opinions about it.

Past RI President John Kenny, Chair of The Rotary Foundation Board of Trustees, in inviting Rotarians to tell about their experiences with the Areas of Focus and grants, both district and global. The Board is seeking your ideas for improvement that could make The Rotary Foundation more effective; the best possible.  He has put together a committee, chaired by PRIP Bill Boyd, to review all comments and suggestions.  For convenience, you can send your thoughts through email to this address:

This is an example of Rotary opening leadership, so now is the time to utilize email and social media to spread the word so Hopeful Rotarians can make their views known.  I have, by email and through past Rotatorials.  Everyone interested in how The Rotary Foundation raises and utilizes funds should take this opportunity to express their thoughts.

Monday, March 23, 2015

110 - Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals - Starting New Clubs

In this series, Rotary refers to the enterprise of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.
Please review Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals 101 and 109 - Critical information when starting a new club.
    Starting new clubs is like starting new small businesses. While all four market segments must be taken into account, the two most important in starting new clubs are Geographic and Demographic. For example, who would even consider starting a small business to serve the wants and needs of: 
  • the under 40 age demographic in a community populated by the over 55 age demographic?
  • a single ethnic community while depending on customers from all ethnicities?  
      Yet too often this is exactly what many in Rotary expect, especially in North America.  Rotary's Organizing New Clubs (808en) manual is an excellent guide regarding the administrative aspects of starting a new club.  What is severely lacking, in North America and I suspect other regions, is the expertise in analyzing geographical areas to determine if any demographics are under-served.  For example, for years Rotary has encouraged it member clubs to be of mixed genders.  However, has it really examined the business owner and community leader demographics of geographic locations?  If it did, I suspect it would discover that, in North America, the majority of local small businesses and professional associations are owned and/or operated by females; that a large percentage of community leaders are female.  Yet Rotary membership continues to be dominantly male.  Why?  If anyone believes there is no difference in the Demographic (family, education, income) Psychographic (personality) and Behavioral (benefits sought, attitude, occasions) gender market segments, their heads are buried in the sand.  What would be wrong with starting clubs with the intent of satisfying the wants and needs of the under-served demographics?  After all, Rotary clubs serve members, not communities.  The members, who have adopted the ideal of service in their personal, business, and community lives, serve the communities.

    The basic fundamentals missing in helping inexperienced Rotarians start new clubs are: 
  • Identifying the under-served demographics of areas presently served by Rotary clubs, and
  • The demographics of geographic areas presently under-served by and could support Rotary clubs.

     Once these studies have been undertaken, then open-minded considerations should be given when pursuing how Rotary can best serve these markets.  The Secretariat should have, particularly for major market regions, services available specifically to investigate and assist in starting new clubs. To expect this important task to be accomplished by inadequately trained, time-constrained Rotarians is not only archaic but unrealistic in today's societies.

This is the final Rotatorial in the Marketing Rotary series.  Its intent was to encourage readers to think critically and seriously about Marketing Rotary and creating Rotarians.  I appreciate those of you who have shared thoughts and opinions.   
The Hopeful Rotarian

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

109 - Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals - Market Segmentation - Potential Member Segment

In this series, Rotary refers to the enterprise of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.
Please review Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals 107, 108 and this Marketing Rotary Schematic.  This Rotatorial discusses attracting members to existing clubs.
Rotary membership is a niche market; it is not for everyone.  To believe that a Rotary club can be all things to all people within their local social fabric is ludicrous.  Please examine the graphic.  Is it even realistic for Rotary to expect clubs to strive to get people with different demographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics; all with different needs and wants in one local organization that meets weekly?
   It is no secret that most people join civic organizations to network i.e. to meet the type of people with whom they want to connect and associate.  It is the organization's responsibility to let potential members know its primary objective, the type people with whom they will be connecting, and what the organization expects of them prior to them filling out an application for membership.  A popular Rotary urban legend is that half of the members inducted leave in their first year.  No doubt this has happened in some clubs and/or districts because of past recruiting/recognition-at-interim-cutoff-date practices and in some start-up clubs, but I suspect accurate data would not lend this legend broad-based authenticity.
   Many clubs during the recruiting drive years eliminated Information Meetings (Fireside chats, Orientations) prior to members joining.  When asked why, one club president replied, quote, "If we told them what we expected, they might not join!" unquote.  Another club, at the last club meeting before the interim cutoff date, speedily inducted eight new members so it would qualify for the Governor's Award and Presidential Citation.  None of the eight ever attended another meeting.  It is a serious mistake for clubs not to require prospective members to attend an Information Meeting, after which they may or may not fill out a membership application.  And that's okay.  Membership in a Rotary club is not for everybody.  Some clubs are choosing to return to a more restrictive classification system.
    After examining a limited amount of data, I am of the opinion that clubs should expect to have an annual new-member retention rate of 97% or better.  Official new-member annual retention rates less than 97% indicate that new members' expectations are not being met. This rate can only be accurately measured and recognized by utilizing official semi-annual report data.  To be fair to all concerned, and to have reliable recognition information available during a given Rotary year, membership achievements should be based solely on Semi-Annual Invoices.  
110 - Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals - Market Segmentation

Creating New Clubs

Friday, March 13, 2015

108 - Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals - Market Segmentation Existing Member Segment

In this series, Rotary refers to the enterprise of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.
Please review Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals 107 and this Marketing Rotary Schematic.

Rotary and its member clubs have two market segments from which to sustain membership - existing members and potential members.  Similarities exist, but each segment must be treated differently.  Two issues of prime importance in doing so is recognizing that:
1.  Rotary membership is a niche market; it is not for everyone.
2.  Both segments are motivated by personal desires.

   For marketing purposes, each primary segment must be separated into four secondary segments - Behavioral, Demographic, Psychographic, and Geographic
   To improve retention rates, it is vital that Rotary and its member clubs understand that existing Rotarians, particularly those who have been members for three or more years, are loyal Rotarians.  Loyalty is a Behavioral characteristic and is gained, not because of what Rotary or clubs do, but because of the satisfaction Rotarians receive by being members of local clubs.  Data indicates that Rotary and its member clubs have between one and three years for new Rotarians to evolve into loyal Rotarians.  Issues like the time Rotary takes and how being a Rotarian affects their family, business, and/or personal activities are important.  The recognition, prestige, honors, and other benefits accorded them, particularly in their local settings, helps them justify to themselves and others the reasons for their loyalty.
  Demographic segmentation addresses members' age, race, religion, gender, political affiliation, family size, ethnicity, income, and education, all of which closely tie to members' wants and needs.  When clubs center on members' wants and needs, it is easier to retain them.  It is a serious marketing breach to believe that each demographic has the same Psychographic profile.  They don't.  Demographic differences often affect members' Behavior.
   Psychographic segmentation addresses members' personality traits, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles.  This is perhaps the most difficult of all segments for Rotary to address. Rotarians (and clubs) participate in activities and attributes according to their interests and attitudes.  Conflicts frequently arise within clubs because members have different specific interests, attitudes, traits, and understandings but almost always want to improve their lives in general.
   Geographic segmentation addresses land masses and transportation distances.  Geographic issues are of minimal importance in retaining Rotarians, but are quite important in creating new Rotarians.

The characteristics of each secondary segment continually interact to some degree in all Rotarians.  Rotary and its member clubs should tailor their attributes and activities to deliver value satisfactory to all Rotarians regardless of their years in Rotary.  And the only accurate measure of whether or not clubs are effective at doing so is their ability to retain and create loyal members!

109 - Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals - Market Segmentation

Potential Member Segment

Sunday, March 1, 2015

RIPE Ravi's 1% - Visionary? How will it be applied and calculated? Posting Membership Information.

     Readers have voiced opinions about RIPE Ravi's goal to increase retention rates by 1% and my repeated comments about Rotary posting membership retention information.  Posting membership information is the simplest to address.  Yes - this Rotatorialist is aware that Rotary publishes membership reports.  Membership and many other reports can be viewed and downloaded by going to the Rotary website and log onto My Rotary.  Scroll down and click on Rotary Club Central - View Goals.  A page ultimately appears.  On the left menu, select Reports.  This Rotatorial references Club Reports - Member Viability and Growth.
  The second more frequent and important topic related to the Presidential Citation's 1% retention increase, and it being visionary.  It is visionary because it communicates the importance of creating Rotarians, without whom Rotary has no future.  Actions now affect Rotary's future, and RIPE Ravi is communicating that by prioritizing membership.  That, for Rotary, is visionary.
   About the 1% - how it will be calculated and applied was a common concern and has been answered.  See Every Measure is described on the Presidential Citation FAQ page:
One district's past governor sent me copies of his district's July, 2011 - June 2014 Member Viability and Growth report.  On July 1, 2011, District XXXX had 3,010 members. During the three-year period, its clubs inducted 1,059 new members.  On June 30, 2014, the district had 2,822* members. Its new member three-year retention percentage was 67.52% and its existing member retention percentage was 70%.  *Under the regressive 'net gain' system, this district's three-year loss would be reported as 188 members when was actual 1,247 members. 

Calculated as demonstrated in the labeled graphic, its three-year combined retention was, 58.57%; growth was, -6.25%; and its RG Index, 52.33%.

  Converting this to combined annual information, its one-year (annual) average percentages are: retention, 86%; growth, - 2.2%; RG Index, 83.8%.

  To return to a growth state at its present rate of new members inducted, its estimated combined retention percentage should be 88.31%. 


Rotary is beginning to center on creating Rotarians and realistically addressing its future.  Many new, more difficult questions will arise as Rotary, regions, zones, districts, and clubs more clearly identify their markets and create Membership Development and Retention Strategic Plans.  Two universal questions likely to surface rather quickly will no doubt be:

·       "What are realistic annual retention and growth rates?"
·       "What retention rates are needed to return to a growth state?"

The pictured Excel spreadsheets are available upon request.  Email  Be sure to put Retention Rate Index in the subject line or your email will get lost in my SPAM filter.  In the spreadsheet, the user can change the aqua cell values and dates.  All calculations are built in.