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

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