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
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