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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!

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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