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

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Rotary's Regional Membership Plans - Fancy and Missing Something Important?

Rotary International's Regional Membership Plans (RMPs) have helped change minds and bring membership to the forefront, but they are fancy and missing something important. The Executive Summaries have Goals and Objectives with fancy Key Performance Indicators, but not one RMP has a written, defined purpose and/or desired result!!  Naturally it is assumed that the RMPs are maps to help grow membership, but each RMP should specify RI's purpose and desired result so all goals and objectives have a target for which to aim. 
     Clubs are where the rubber meets the road when it comes to creating Rotarians, but every Rotarian and employee of RI and clubs should always be practicing the Object of Rotary, especially the first. Any initiatives RI suggests that clubs should undertake should be thoroughly examined from clubs' points of view. It is understandable for RI to tell its administrative districts what it wants them to do, but RI planners and leaders should take care in suggesting initiatives for clubs to undertake.  If clubs are not convinced that pursung the initiatives will benefit them, the initiatives stand an excellent chance of being considered wasted effort. For example: 
            Goals and Objectives: Strengthen Clubs - The performance indicators are:
            1. 100% of the districts have a designated District Membership Committee chair.
            2. Ensure 30% of the clubs set and track at least 10 goals in Rotary Club Central.
           Districts should have some Rotarians that are properly educated and supported in developing membership.  But what value do clubs, club officers, or Rotarians receive by setting and tracking at least 10 goals on Rotary Club Central?  Will clubs consider this clerical action a benefit or waste of time and energy?
            Goals and Objectives:  Member Attraction - the performance indicators are:
            1.  Each district will charter at least one new Rotary club.
            2.  Improve the gender diversity rate of our members by at least two percentage points. 
           3.  Improve the age diversity rate of our members by increasing the number of Rotarians              under the age of 40 by at least two percentage points. 
             Each district should make it a goal to charter and support at least one new club a year.  This is an excellent way to diversify.  However, caution should be exercised when encouraging all clubs to meet the diversity indicators.  If the diversity concept is not marketed and perceived as advancing the first and second Objects of Rotary, these diversity indicators risk becoming another Recruiting Death Dance. 
            Goals and Objectives:  Member Engagement - the performance indicators are:
            1.  Improve the member retention rate by at least 1%.
            2.  Increase the number of members registered in My Rotary by encouraging clubs to                             have 50% of their club members registered. 
            Improving member retention is a priority.  Its importance is watered down by treating the second indicator, at least in print, as equal in priority to retaining members.  Besides, what benefit do clubs receive if 50% of their members register in My Rotary?  What benefits do Rotarians receive by registering on My Rotary?

     In the broader picture, what if zones and districts satisfied all, or most, performance indicators but continue to lose members? What have achieving the performance indicators accomplished? What if zones and districts are successful at growing membership but satisfy only one or two performance indicators? Which ones have been successful? Who should receive praise and recognition?

RI continues to make progress in Membership Development.  The performance indicators listed may help retain and attract Rotarians, but the RMPs should be simplified by clearly stating their purpose and desired result, and having one, and only one, RI, zone, district, and club Key Performance Indicator - their Retention and Attraction rate - i.e. their RG Index!

                                     *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

I'd like to wish you a wonderful Holiday Season and Happy New Year.  With a bit of luck, I'll have another Rotatorial in January.  In the meantime, let's all make a New Year's Resolution that we will practice the Object of Rotary and help our clubs improve their retention and attraction rates.
                                                                                        Jim Henry

Monday, November 14, 2016

Should Rotary International have a Chief Membership Officer?

Member and donor-dependent organizations that prioritize recruiting large quantities of supporters are making a serious mistake.  Supporters are organizations' reward for delivering enhanced supporter value.  The only objective measure of whether or not organizations are delivering value and deserve this reward is the rate they retain and attract supporters.   
 For Rotary International (RI), understanding these realities could have influenced senior leaders' decisions much earlier had they valued RI's supporters and marketed the Object of Rotary's Ideal of Service.  Instead, in the 1980s RI began promoting select expressions of the Object of Rotary.  In the 1990s membership stabilized and, in some major market areas, began declining. To counter this trend, RI actively encouraged clubs to recruit, not attract, members - its infamous Recruiting Death Dance.
     This probably would not have happened had RI had a Chief Membership Officer (CMO).  Such a person, like the Chief Marketing Officer of many successful organizations, could have been an active part of marketing to and understanding RI's two-tier supporter base; clubs and Rotarians.  It is not too late for RI to consider establishing such a position, if it hasn't already done so.  The CMO (with assistants in each Secretariat office, and Zone Membership Coordinators) would be RI's connection between trends, societal changes, club and Rotarian changing needs, RI strategy and support, new club potential and how all these come together to affect membership.  Their measure of success would, of course, be RG Indexes of each administrative division and club

RI should once again become the inventive, pioneering organization it once was in the member-supported civic club industry. To do so, it must become more innovative in marketing the Object of Rotary's Ideal of Service to clubs and Rotarians because  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

What Results do Rotary International's Leaders Expect from the Regional Membership Plans?

Upon review, each 2016-17 North American Regional Membership Plan (RMP) has many goals, objectives, and action plans.  Membership development plans should have a few of these, but one critical item is missing - a priority statement with the result leaders desire!  This is problematic because Rotary International's leaders should establish a priority statement with a measurable and attainable desired growth target.  If the RMPs do not have such a priority statement, how will coordinators and managers know if their objectives and actions are on track to reach the desired results?
     So let's examine some basic membership development plan fundamentals:  Rotary International's objective is to advance the Object of Rotary.  It does that by chartering and supporting independent Rotary clubs.  Rotary clubs attract and retain members - Rotarians - from within their local social fabrics.  The Object of Rotary is the value proposition that embeds the Ideal of Service in Rotarians' personal, business, and community lives.  Rotary's growth, and actions by Rotarians, Rotary clubs, and Rotary International (RI) - including polio eradication - are expressions of the Object of Rotary.
    To continue advancing the Object of Rotary, RI needs clubs, and clubs need members who embrace the Object of Rotary's Ideal of Service.  Therefore, RMP priority statements should express acceptable and attainable growth targets related to creating clubs and helping them retain and attract Rotarians who embrace the Ideal of Service.  Priority statements should be simple and straightforward so there is little chance for misunderstanding.  For example:  "Zones --- and --- priority is to reach an annual RG Index of 90.76 by June 30, 2020." 

What is RG Index and was the number pulled out of the air?
     In 2013, using RI information from Past RI Director Smarge's 2011 International Assembly presentation, this former Zone 34 Coordinator calculated, using simple arithmetic, that if RI improved its annual Retention and Growth Rates to 88.84% and 1.92% respectively, its RG Index would be 90.76 (add the two rates and drop the % sign), and RI would be growing at a steady rate.  In the sample priority statement, which could be instituted immediately, the RG Index is a simple, understandable, measurable, and attainable growth target.  Every goal, objective, and action in each RMP must center on reaching this target.  Goals and objectives that are not designed to do so, whether or not they appear to be desirable initiatives, are distractions and must be eliminated.

 Past experience tells us that continuity in leadership is vital.  Every existing and future Rotary leader must understand that RI's sole purpose is to grow Rotary.  Leaders that are successful at growing Rotary should be appropriately recognized at conventions, institutes, and conferences simply because, when advancing the Object of Rotary, local

Monday, October 10, 2016

Misunderstanding Membership Development Can Derail Organizations.

            Throughout the last century the world's population grew and generally became more affluent. Rotary International (RI), an association of local, autonomous Rotary clubs, flourished.  Its charitable subsidiary, The Rotary Foundation, thrived by internally marketing worthwhile projects and programs that attracted contributions, primarily from members of North American Rotary clubs.  Toward the end of the century, RI undertook an ambitious worldwide service project to eliminate polio.  But on the horizon of this sunny optimistic future, a sinister, dark cloud loomed.  Income from dues-paying members stagnated.  Club membership in North America and some other regions began a gradual, steady decline.   To reverse this trend, RI leaders assumed that all they had to do was come up with tools that would encourage clubs to get more members.
            This self-centered assumption made it easy for RI's leaders to be seduced by the same siren melody that victimized many, and doomed a few, successful organizations.  It is not uncommon for leaders to believe that by concentrating on getting better at refining and improving their attributes, projects and programs that membership development is simply a matter of recruiting more members.  What leaders have difficulty comprehending, some until it is too late, is that their organizations should approach developing membership by being innovative in creating ways that their attributes, projects and programs enhance the membership experience.

Being innovative at enhancing the membership experience for Rotary clubs and Rotarians will face many obstacles.  Perhaps the most difficult will be overcoming two decades of misdirected priorities embedded in the minds of many Rotarians, most previous leaders, and many aspirants.  This can only be conquered by an intensive internal marketing initiative that delivers, in words and actions, Rotary's differentiating value proposition; a campaign centered around conveying the perception that 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Does Rotary International Really Understand Who Its Supporters Are and Why They Support Rotary?

  Rotary International (RI) does not have one group of supporters (customers).  Just like automobile manufacturers, Starbucks, McDonald's, Woolworth's, and many other national and multi-national organizations, it has two:  local outlets and their customers.  These organizations succeed when they authorize local outlets to deliver their differentiating value proposition and support the outlets as they adapt to local customers' values, wants, and realities.  For this reason, and this reason alone, organizations with local outlets, franchised or otherwise, must thoroughly understand the realities, situations, behaviors, expectations, and values of their outlets AND their outlets' customers.
    These are basic big business fundamentals, yet few Rotary leaders are educated and/or supported on understanding and applying them.  RI is not defined by its name, constitution, by-laws, Code of Policies, motto, the Four-Way Test, The Rotary Foundation, the quantity or quality of the service projects and programs it and/or its member clubs sponsor, or any amount of public information. It is only defined by the differentiating value perceived when people pay dues to join a local outlet (club), recognize themselves, and are identified locally as "Rotarians".  It is the same with all successful organizations that have many local outlets.  For example, the automobile manufacturer BMW is not defined by its name or the mode of transportation it produces.  It is defined by the differentiating value perceived by customers when they purchase a mode of personal transportation, recognize themselves, and are identified locally as owners of "the ultimate driving machine".
    RI is a multi-national business with over 35,000 outlets (clubs).  Since 1996 its membership (customer) base has hovered around 1.2 million.  Many more than that have come and gone.  Important positive changes have been adopted and are beginning to spread throughout the Rotary network.  Unfortunately many outdated mindsets - 'clubs are local service organizations', 'Rotarians are just volunteers or charity workers''clubs exist to support districts, RI, and TRF' and 'membership is strictly a club issue' - continue to flourish among Rotarians, many of them in, or seeking, leadership positions.  This can only be overcome by continuously internally marketing to clubs and Rotarians on how the Object of Rotary compliments and supports local clubs and Rotarians in their realities, because, as People of Action,

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Rotary's Membership Development Plan Made Easy

WHY DO PEOPLE JOIN LOCAL ROTARY CLUBS?  Members are clubs' customers!  They believe membership will satisfy a needed utility that usually involves developing relationships for personal and/or business reasons.  
WHY DO ROTARIANS REMAIN IN LOCAL ROTARY CLUBS?  Rotarians are clubs' customers! Membership continues to satisfy personal and/or business utilities, which usually change over time.
WHY DO ROTARIANS NOT RENEW THEIR MEMBERSHIPS IN LOCAL ROTARY CLUBS? (other than health or relocating.)  Rotarians are clubs' customers!  Those who do not renew choose this action because membership no longer satisfies one or more of their personal and/or business utilities.
WHAT IS THE MOST ACCURATE METHOD OF MEASURING THE ROTARY NETWORK'S EFFECTIVENESS AT SATISFYING ROTARIANS' UTILITIES?  Like any business, first is the percentage of Rotarians that renew their membership, i.e. their Retention Rate.  Next is the number of new people that join clubs during the time period, expressed as a percentage, i.e. their Growth Rate.  When combined, these rates become their Retention Growth Index (RGI).  The RGI measure of success not only applies to clubs, it also applies to districts, zones, regions, and Rotary International itself.
     Once everyone understands that RGIs are the only accurate measures of how effective Rotary International (RI) and its member clubs are at advancing the Object of Rotary, then, like any successful business, leaders from clubs to the RI president, including RI's professional staff, should be continually searching for answers to these simple questions:
                        How can we improve our Retention Rate?
                        How can we improve our Growth Rate? 
            RI and its administrative divisions
                        Where should we be chartering new clubs?          
                        How can we help clubs improve their Retention Rates?
                        How can we help clubs improve their Growth Rates?

ROTARIANS ARE INTELLIGENT PEOPLE.  If asked these simple questions, they will pursue answers because they believe that 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Only One (1) of Rotary's Twelve Zones in North America Increased Membership!

In 2015-16, Zone 34, for the second year in a row, increased membership, the only North American zone to do so.  For more information, contact Zone 34 Coordinator Art MacQueen by clicking on this link.

Unfortunately, North America was down by 4,273 members. Reasons abound, but without doubt, one is inconsistent messaging - verbal and non-verbal - from Rotary International (RI) and its subsidiary, The Rotary Foundation (TRF).  Inconsistent messaging penetrates and affects the entire Rotary network and is the prime reason the communication element of Rotary's Membership Development Report Card continues to earn the lowest score.    
     Thankfully, RI and TRF leaders have addressed the root cause of its inconsistent messaging - lack of consensual priority. RI has re-established membership development as its operational priority and created a standing membership development committee.  Equally important is that RI and TRF have agreed that both must concentrate on enhancing Rotarians' experiences. The Rotary network, naturally constructed by Rotarians advancing the Object of Rotary, could easily be used to accomplish this if more Rotarians, leaders and followers, exercised effective networking skills.  In Million Dollar Networking, Rotarian Andrea Nierenberg explains that to successfully network, one should first give something of value.  For all Rotarians that would be sincere personal interest and time.   
      For example, RI maintains and continually improves membership information on clubs, districts, and zones; information that is available on Rotary Club Central.  This is super, but it does not enhance the Rotary experience; only Rotarians can do that.  Patrick Lencioni, in The Advantage,Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else, clearly points out that, in any organization, people are often in the dark even though newsletters, magazines and broad-brush emails flood in, they have access to interactive web sites and attend overly produced meetings with impressive PowerPoints, talking heads, and reams of paper (whew)!  What people need but do not get is consistent, authentic, relevant, and prioritized person-to-person, eyeball-to-eyeball, word-of-mouth communication from their leaders. Imagine the perception, reward, recognition and shared real-time information if Rotary's leaders lead the way and at least twice a year:
  • RI presidents downloaded RI's Zone membership data and reviewed it eyeball-to-eyeball with each Director and Coordinator.
  • Directors and Coordinators downloaded RI's district membership data and reviewed it eyeball-to-eyeball with each District Governor and Membership chair.
  • District Governors and Membership chairs downloaded RI's club membership data and reviewed it eyeball-to-eyeball with each club. At the same time they could help clubs enhance members' Rotary experience by suggesting that: 
    • sponsors make a point to meet several times socially with the members they have sponsored, particularly during their first two years of membership, and 
    • they be more attentive to members' desires, particularly marginal members, which would minimize semi-annual report purging and improve existing member retention rates.

Does this type of leadership take personal interest and time?  Of course, but it also takes full advantage of the Rotary network while putting an exclamation point on the importance of membership while delivering Rotary's value proposition and enhancing the membership experience.  After all, the power of the Rotary network lies in having strong local clubs because

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


"You volunteered helping some people in your community.  Good for you, but who were you helping by posting what you did on your Facebook page?"  Recent Facebook post.

    Many service organizations (libraries, hospitals, museums, food banks, churches, etc.) keep track of volunteer hours.  In most cases the information is used to place a value on the volunteers' service.  This value in turn can be beneficial when it comes to applying for grants and exhibiting the volunteer-hour value to organizations' Boards of Directors and potential donors.  If properly handled, it can be used to amplify how volunteers help organizations impact communities.  For Rotary clubs, volunteer hours should be considered when determining the value of projects and activities.  But Rotary International (RI) and its member clubs can get themselves mired in the Volunteer Hour Quagmire if the information is improperly used in public information and relations.  
    Think about it.  The Rotary network is a member-driven organization; not a service-driven organization.  The sole purpose of RI and its member clubs is to create Rotarians who will continue to advance the Object of Rotary.  With this in clear view, care must be taken when publicizing the number of volunteer hours clubs or RI expend because it may not communicate Rotary's value proposition to its prime markets - existing and potential Rotarians.  To expend volunteer hours on service projects in not a differentiating reason to join a Rotary club.  Consider that, for decades, Rotary leaders worshiped the mantra, "When polio is eradicated, people will line up to join Rotary clubs."  Polio has been gone in all but four countries for many years, and now only remains in two countries.  But those line-ups never occurred!  Why?  Because Rotary is not what Rotary does, it is Who Rotarians Are; people of all genders, generations, and ethnicities who adopted the ideal of service in their personal, business, and community lives and utilize the Rotary network to seek outcomes that make their community and the world better.

    Rotary will continue to make the world better, providing it wisely pursues its purpose and objective.  In doing so, it must strive to deliver an enhanced value proposition to clubs and Rotarians, not just in August, but all year long, forever and a day, because

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Rotary's Membership Winds

In May 2003, the Rotary International (RI) Board of Directors made Decision 324 that became RI's Code of Policies Section 26.120, "Membership Statistics:  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."  Unfortunately this decision didn't stir enough wind to get the Good Ship Rotary out of the membership doldrums where it had been stalled for over a decade.  Then, in 2011 Director John Smarge created a sudden tropical storm with his International Assembly address.  Unfortunately corporate inbreeding, lack of common business sense, and a 2012 RI non-verbal action that telegraphed RI's priority throughout the Rotary network quelled the membership winds and the Good Ship remained in the doldrums.  But Director Smarge's tropical storm did stimulate some critical thinking by all aboard.
            Finally, in 2015 favorable membership winds began to blow.  The Good Ship's sails ballooned, filling the crew and its leaders with energy and enthusiasm.  President Ravi established RI's first membership retention goal, and the Good Ship's officers established membership development as RI's operational priority.  In 2016, membership trade winds grew, and the Good Ship trimmed for smooth sailing.  President Germ eliminated interim membership deadlines, and the Council on Legislation, acting on the officers' recommendation, created a standing membership admiralty and charged them with keeping the Good Ship out of the doldrums.  All excellent signs, but the Good Ship can only navigate through the gauntlet of personal and corporate projects, programs, attributes and personal mindsets if RI continually communicates - in words and deeds - the importance of staying on course.  Otherwise, the Good Ship could find itself back in the doldrums.

 Okay.  So much for the amateurish imagery.  In reality, it will take more than words on paper or in media for RI to continually create Rotarians. The lack of effective communication following the Board's 2003 decision vividly proves this, proof supported by RI's 2012 non-verbal this-is-our-priority action.  Rotary has designated August as Membership Month.  Nice archaic gesture, but it can be problematic.  Communicating RI's purpose and objective must be professionally, gently, and consistently communicated all year long, forever and a day.  Otherwise, RI and its member clubs will again find themselves struggling for members - and the dues they pay.
     RI's only purpose is to create Rotarians and support them as they create and utilize RI attributes to advance the Object of Rotary.  RI's strategic plan must reflect this reality by establishing attainable visions regarding chartering and supporting clubs in their endeavors to create Rotarians simply because  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Rotary Membership is a Result of . . .

Rotary International (RI) and its member clubs producing attributes that clubs and Rotarians value!  The sticky point for RI is that it doesn't determine the value of the attributes it creates; clubs and Rotarians do.  The results of delivering what clubs and Rotarians value is reflected in accurate, timely membership reports of clubs, districts, zones and regions i.e. membership retention and attraction rates.

 RI has:

·       recognized that it is in the membership development business,
·       acknowledged that membership is its top operational priority,
·       authorized a standing membership development committee, and

     These combine to make it much easier to gauge the success of attributes and innovations.  The missing link is determining the value clubs and Rotarians receive from everything RI offers, does, requires, recommends, and/or endorses.  For example, what value do clubs and/or Rotarians receive
·       by participating in Rotary Club Central?
·       by being required to subscribe to Rotary's monthly magazines?
·       by RI sending president's representatives to district conferences?
·       from district conferences?
·       by sending president-elects to training seminars? 
·       from a district governor's visit?

     Without continually evaluating all connections from the viewpoint of clubs and Rotarians, RI has scant chance of optimizing its membership.  It must continually, based on local clubs' and Rotarians' demographics, psychographics, values, realities, and needs, maximize the value of every interconnecting relationship.  And that is a prime responsibility of Marketing!
  The Rotary network grew because past Rotarians experienced the value of being a Rotarian.  The Rotary network suffered because RI diverted its original value proposition - the Object of Rotary - from its natural course.  It is RI's responsibility to take the lead in reigniting the value of being a Rotarian.  It should take this opportunity to be the innovative industry leader it once was and create a Marketing group responsible for determining the value of every connection with those who fund its operations - clubs and Rotarians - because ROTARIANS MAKE THE WORLD BETTER, ONE COMMUNITY AT THE TIME.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Rotary Network's Growth: Why it stopped! Will it Sustain?

The recent Blog post, Is Rip Van Rotary Finally Waking Up? stimulated interesting comments from readers, some of which are included here.  As  they indicate, many club and district Rotarians and leaders wrestle with What is Rotary? and Why Rotary?, basically Rotary's value proposition.  So let's reconstruct how the Rotary network grew, why it stopped, and what it will take to continue revitalizing and sustaining its growth.
    In 1905, Rotary's value proposition - The Object of Rotary - flowed freely from Chicago and naturally constructed the Rotary network much like the Mississippi River historically flowed freely and naturally constructed its Louisiana delta.  In the latter part of the last century, Rotary International (RI) substantially restricted the proposition's natural flow by rerouting it.  This rerouting minimized constructing its network, particularly in major market areas, and it began to shrink.  In the last century, the Corp of Engineers substantially restricted the Mississippi's natural flow by rerouting it.  This rerouting minimized constructing its delta in Louisiana, and it began to shrink.  Following Constructal Law, the reason was the same in both cases:  Rotary's value proposition and the Mississippi River stopped flowing free because both, with good intentions, were routed away from their natural course. The Corp of Engineers channeled the Mississippi River to serve the nation's needs instead of the Louisiana delta; RI leaders channeled the Rotary network to serve beneficiaries'  needs instead of clubs and Rotarians.
     RI's underlying problems created by this rerouting were:
  • Beneficiaries do not replenish the Rotary network; Rotarians do.
  • Beneficiaries do not fund RI and its projects and programs; clubs and Rotarians do. 
  • RI began portraying Rotarians as volunteers and charity workers.
There are billions of volunteers and charity workers.  It doesn't take much skill to pick up trash, serve in food lines, dig ditches, or park cars.  Not only that, most have no interest whatsoever in joining a local Rotary club.  Even if they did, why should they pay dues to join an organization that recognizes them for doing what they are already doing?  Many Rotarians do volunteer to do charity work, but they must be differentiated from the billions of others.  Rotarians adopt the ideal of service in their personal, business, and community lives. Because they live by this ideal, they often identify local community needs, and as a result of the relationships developed through the network, create ways and means to satisfy those needs.  Most often it is writing checks funding those who have the necessary skills.  But is this the image of Rotarians emanating from RI, the networks headwaters?  Is this the image of Rotarians the communities in which they reside receive?  Is this the image of Rotarians those who may be interested developing acquaintances with them receive? 
   Only limited numbers of people in any community have the time and resources to join the Rotary network.  They are a niche group, and a minuscule niche at that.  People in this niche will expend the time and money to develop and sustain relationships just like lobbyists will contribute to political campaigns to develop and sustain relationships with politicians. Building relationships with this niche is the first and most important Object of Rotary.  The second Object respects how they utilize their professions to make their community better i.e. employ people, serve customers, satisfy community needs, influence positive community development, etc.  But it is in the third Object where Rotary's value proposition shines - Rotarians adopt the ideal of service in their personal, business, community, and world lives; the root of the Rotary network.
    RI can reestablish its value proposition's natural flow by developing and executing a long-term internal marketing campaign centered on differentiating who Rotarians are, the value that people who may be interested in becoming a Rotarian receive, and telling stories about the benefits of advancing the Object of Rotary.  Hundreds of thousands of Rotarians, including many leaders, do not understand the Object's essence simply because few Rotarians stress its importance, particularly the value of developing relationships with like-minded people.  Often their defense is its century-old phraseology; the phraseology upon which the network was constructed.  The real reason is that Rotarians have not been encouraged to talk about its importance. 
RI, through internal marketing, must destroy its restricting gates, and encourage its value proposition to once again flow freely.  This will constantly revitalize the networks most effective constructors, existing Rotarians.  Like unrestricted rivers perpetually build deltas, Rotarians will continue constructing their network because they know that 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Is Rip Van Rotary Really Waking Up?

Rotary International (RI) General Secretary Hewko recently announced that RI is on track to close out 2015-16 with the second highest membership ever.  This is super good news and should be the signal for RI to increase Marketing and Innovating momentum. President Ravi led the way by identifying RI for what it is - a business unlike any other.  This, and the changes made by the 2016 Council on Legislation, have laid the foundation for RI to have a bright future.  However, if anyone thinks such a future will automatically transpire, they are badly mistaken.  Changes, or strategic plans, written on paper do little good if they are not prioritized and successfully Internally Marketed.  (Example: Code of Policies 26.120. Passed and written in 2003, but never internally marketed.)  Marketing should aim for optimum, not maximum, membership. This requires extensive internal and little external (general public, worldwide) Marketing simply because retained Rotarians are RI's greatest asset, and its most effective sales force.
   Innovation is where RI could differentiate itself from competitive organizations and make operational what its business should be.  It should take advantage of its momentum and be Innovative in Service, Social, and Managerial categories.  In Service Innovation, RI should set objectives that differentiate Rotary clubs and Rotarians from all other organizations.  Rotarians, existing or new, pay dues to develop and sustain relationships - primarily local but spreading global.  They do not pay dues to perform community service, be called volunteers, or support The Rotary Foundation (every person in the world can do all three without paying dues!)  In Social Innovations, RI should be Innovative in creating ways to better relate to its member clubs, and help clubs Innovate ways to relate to Rotarians.  In Managerial, RI should be Innovative in skills and activities needed to create and deliver services to clubs and Rotarians, including director, coordinator, and governor education and support.    
            RI does seem to be waking up.  Leaders are actually being Innovative and leading.

In Service Innovation, little has reached clubs and Rotarians, but

In Social Innovation:
  •  Initiating the Rotary Global Rewards program offers a benefit to Rotarians.
  • On the questionable side lies Rotary Club Central - Do the benefits it offers clubs or Rotarians, if any, exceed the effort required to keep information current?  
In Managerial Innovation:
  • RI changed its Semi-Annual Reporting process, a benefit that simplified managerial tasks for clubs and RI while facilitating cash flow.  
  • President Ravi recognized the importance of retaining Rotarians.
  • President-elect Germ established the practice of recognizing official membership levels based on Semi-Annual Reports, which authenticates membership numbers and simplifies statistical analysis. 
Innovation objectives have a problem in measuring their short- and long-term impact.  To do that, RI must look at itself from the outside - from the view of clubs and the social fabrics in which they exist.  This is where the universally applicable RG Index could play a vital role.

Exciting times lie ahead for RI providing transitional leadership remains in place, Innovation is encouraged, and both are adequately recognized and rewarded.  RI must better prepare and support its tiers of leaders so they can be more effective in strengthening weak clubs, starting new clubs, and helping all clubs advance the Object of Rotary in their local social fabrics because

Monday, May 30, 2016


RI President Ravi
PRID John Smarge
The public admission by Rotary International (RI) President Ravi and tweeted to the world by Secretary General John Hewko that Rotary is a business is the culmination of a reversal that began in 2011 when then RI Director John Smarge publically identified Rotarians as RI's customers.  At last, RI and its member clubs can now begin creating viable strategic plans because any strategic plan, to be even close to realistic, must identify a common purpose.  That purpose must lie outside of the Rotary network.  It must lie inside the social fabric of the communities where local Rotary clubs successfully function.  Therefore, the only valid purpose of RI is to create Rotary clubs and support them as they create Rotarians locally!
     By admitting that Rotary is a business and accepting that its purpose is to create Rotarians, RI can now conduct business unlike any other business by pursuing its two primary functions - innovating and marketing.  Both are important for Rotary to have a successful future.  The Object of Rotary and recent Council on Legislation actions have opened the door to innovations.  Marketing, on the other hand, may still be hiding in its closet.  Marketing is based on knowing and understanding the Rotary network so well that membership sells itself - club membership in the association, and Rotarian membership in local clubs.  To do that, RI must thoroughly know and understand the demographics, psychographics, realities, wants, needs, and values of its member clubs; independent organizations that must understand the same attributes in local existing and potential Rotarians.  It is dangerous for RI to seek uniformity in the actions its over 35,000 member clubs take to create Rotarians.  This is why the only true measure of effective clubs, districts, zones, regions, and RI is their ability to retain and attract Rotarians - their Retention Rates, Growth Rates, and RG Indexes.  These are, by far, the most critical metrics of all membership (customer) dependent organizations.

Indeed, exciting and challenging times lie before the Rotary network!  Rotary leaders should be proud to accept and promote that Rotary is a business unlike any other; a business based on developing relationships; recognizing the importance of legitimate businesses and professions; and instilling the ideal of service in individuals' family, business, community, and international lives.  
Marketing these fundamental principles


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Tale of Two Clubs

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the time to dance, it is nearing the time of no polio, it is the time of Rotary International (RI) reverting to advancing the Object of Rotary, it is the time of RI upheaval.
Shark Valley.  2014-15 Membership Statistics 
The club is sixty-five years old.  It's average forty membership waxes and wanes with Shark Valley’s fluctuating agriculture-based economy.  Its members represent various local businesses and professions. The town's school principal and mayor are members.  The club carefully screens proposed members.  It furnishes no organized support to The Rotary Foundation and minimally supports district activities.  Some members, because of local contacts, support an orphanage in Latin America.  The club concentrates its activities on local projects and programs, including the school's Digital Learning Laboratory and Interact club as well as Shark Valley's Rotary Park
Deep Canyon.   2014-15 Membership Statistics 
The club is in a large city’s affluent suburb.  It has grown from a startup club eighteen years ago to fifty-four members.  It has a $1,000 new member admission fee whether or not the proposed member is a transferring Rotarian.  It encourages members to contribute a minimum of $1,000 per year to The Rotary Foundation and expects members to support the club's charitable arm, The Rotary Club of Deep Canyon Foundation.  It frequently partners on global grants, supports youth exchange, and furnishes financial and human support to a nearby school.  It sponsors several socials a year, initiated and was the major sponsor of Deep Canyon's Dog Park.

The first and most important Object of Rotary is to develop friendships and create relationships. Using Occam's Razor to shave away the whiskers of what the Rotary clubs of Shark Valley and Deep Canyon do to attain their RG Index cleanly exposes the Index as the simplest and most accurate measure of clubs', districts', zones', regions' and RI's effectiveness in advancing the Object of Rotary.  RI could stabilize its upheaval if it prioritized and concentrated on improving its RG Index by helping each region, zone, and district create new clubs and support existing clubs. 

Developing acquaintances in local waters sends ripples of friendships that advance the Object of Rotary worldwide.  The premier proof of this is Rotarians' gift to the world - the eradication of polio - made possible simply because