"Social capital provides the glue which facilitates co-operation, exchange, and innovation."
The New Economy: Beyond the Hype.
Rotary International (RI) President Ravi is spot on prioritizing retention rates. Retention rates are accurate measures of how effective RI and its member clubs are at exchanging social capital and maximizing the Rotary network's collective value. For Rotary and its member clubs, retained Rotarians are greater assets than new Rotarians. They have longer lifetime values and are membership multipliers, a major advantage because, in Rotary's niche membership market, word-of-mouth and person-to-person networking are Marketing Rotary's most effective protocol.
Everything Rotary does, from local club initiatives to the worldwide polio eradication project, is accomplished by Rotarians utilizing four paths to exchange social capital: group action, broad identities, reciprocity, and information flow. For example,
which has not recorded a case of endemic polio for a year, can thank the
collective value of the Rotary network's social capital. In 1985 RI started the worldwide polio
eradication initiative through group
action, broad identities, and extensive information flow. Its success has been primarily due to local Rotarians
using friendship reciprocity
and information flow to jump
start eradicating polio from their local social fabrics and exchanging social
capital until polio no longer existed.
If RI is serious about improving retention rates, it must lead the way by understanding Who Rotarians Are and participating in fair and transparent social capital exchange with clubs and Rotarians. Here are some conditions and questions RI leaders should consider:
1. RI would like clubs and Rotarians to participate more with Rotary Club Central. What are the reciprocal benefits i.e. how does the participation improve clubs' and/or Rotarians' social capital and collective value?
2. It has been suggested that Rotarians, particularly in
North America, commit $1 US a day to The Rotary
Foundation (TRF). What are the
reciprocal benefits i.e. how does this improve North American clubs' and/or
Rotarians' social capital and collective value?
3. RI, as it should, wishes to improve the collective value of the Rotary network. Its top organizational priority is now membership development. Is RI being transparent and proactively supporting this ? Can clubs trust that RI's organizational priority will not change according to the whims of future presidents?
Retention rates and Retention Growth Indexes (RGI) will increase, as will the collective value of the Rotary network, when the exchanges of social capital between RI, its member clubs, and individual Rotarians are beneficial to all concerned.