Why Organization's Fail

Organization failure begins at the top. Rotary did not stop growing because people were not interested in joining local Rotary clubs. The number of people joining Rotary clubs proves that. It stopped growing because its leaders assumed it was in the business of supplying humanitarian services rather than in the business of creating Rotarians; they were product oriented instead of member oriented.

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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