Why Organization's Fail

Rotary didn't stop developing membership because people were not interested in joining local Rotary clubs. Recent membership metrics have proven that. It stopped growing because Rotary and its member clubs became product oriented instead of member oriented. They marketed the results of the Object of Rotary instead of its value to its member clubs and Rotarians - its customers - those who fund its operations.

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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

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