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

Sunday, November 1, 2015


As a brief review, RI's problem for almost two decades was not membership's stagnation and decline in major markets per se; it was how RI's senior leaders viewed its purpose and objectives.  Retention Central, in 2009, 2012, and 2014, published seven (7) guidelines that RI and its member clubs could use to revitalize membership.  This Report Card grades RI's progress on five of the seven guidelines.  It shows that, in Retention Central's opinion, Rotary has shown substantial improvement since 2010, when its grade in each guideline would have been 0%. 

1. ESTABLISH PRIORITIES - Grade:  100%.  In 2010, a few senior leaders began paying attention to membership development, and RI has gained over 21,000 members.  RI's Board of Directors has declared membership RI's highest operational priority and approved action to create a membership segment in its strategic plan.  
2. CREATE A POWERFUL GUIDING COALITION.  Grade: 70%.  Some visionary senior leaders advocate creating an influential, standing membership development committee.  Until such a guiding coalition is in place, RI history demonstrates that future leaders could divert resources from its established priority.
3.  ESTABLISH AN ATTAINABLE VISION.  Grade: 50%. Thanks to a few senior leaders and President Ravi, the importance of retaining members has been brought to the forefront.  That indicates that a retention element will be part of the attainable vision.  The vision should also include a growth element, so the measurement of success should be based on easy to understand, readily available Retention and Growth Indexes.  In membership-based organizations, such indexes are the only measures that accurately appraise success that are fair to all concerned
4. CREATE A SYSTEMATIC STRATEGIC PLAN WITH SHORT-TERM, ATTAINABLE MILESTONES.  Grade: 30%.  Some steps have been taken, but a workable strategic plan can only be completed when the guiding coalition is in place, the attainable vision is defined, and the means of measuring the plan's success is understood and in operation.
5.  COMMUNICATE.  Grade:  12%.  The perceptions delivered by RI's communications will determine whether or not its membership development initiative succeeds.  President Ravi established and communicated the importance of retaining members; President-Elect John Germ is eliminating interim cutoff dates.  These actions, along with the recent Board action, have jarred this guideline's grade off zero.  Unfortunately, the perception that membership is not a priority continues to linger.  For over two decades, RI's verbal and non-verbal communication, resource allocation, recruiting mentality, educational materials, awards, public information, etc. delivered the perception that RI's attributes were far more important than developing membership.  It actively promoted the concepts that Rotary clubs should be local service organizations of choice that supported RI and The Rotary Foundation (TRF), and that Rotarians were ordinary volunteers who do good things.  These perceptions have been embedded in mentalities of existing and former Rotarians, and continue to surface on the internet. They will not be easy to eliminate and/or overcome.  RI must not trivialize the importance of the perceptions delivered by the non-verbal, verbal, and written communications of Rotary, TRF, and all officers and staff.

The Rotary network now has the underpinning in place that enable it to create more Rotarians.  Transitional leadership at all levels is required to build on this base.  With this type leadership, the Rotary network will be better able to create Rotarians who can utilize existing attributes like TRF and spawn new attributes to help them advance the Object of Rotary throughout the 21st century.

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