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Tips to Increase and Retain Members


Head: Fit equals Value
Subhead: Tips to Increase and Retain Members
PDG Oyan Villanueva


Every single Rotary year we attend membership development seminars. We come up with attractive ways of inviting other professionals into our fold and yet, every single year as well, we lose almost the same number of those we recruited. There is no question that we do a good job inviting people into joining Rotary, but we cannot say the same about keeping them.


Rotary clubs are just like business enterprises trying to sell its products to potential customers. The basic reason to buy is if a product addresses a need or a desire. In our Rotary clubs, do we address our members’ needs and desires? Are our products, in this case our fellowship and community service projects, exactly what our customers want to buy?


If a customer finds what he or she needs or desires in a product, that product suddenly acquires tremendous value. There is a fit between product and customer. Comparatively, if a Rotarian, potential or regular, finds what he or she needs or desires in a Rotary club, then there is a perfect fit. The greater the value, the better the fit, and vice versa.


Perhaps 95 percent of club activities are in two areas. As such, we can say that they are, basically, the two products we offer: meetings for fellowship and projects for service.


Weekly meetings
Meetings are a club’s weekly showcase. For the longest time, we have been told to conduct club meetings under strict protocol, prescriptive rules and inflexible regulations. Often it feels that we cannot move anymore without violating a rule. Then we constantly complain of lack of attendance in our meetings.


It is time to examine our weekly meetings from our customers’ point of view. Is this what they might want, something that would be attractive to them?


It is also time to examine our weekly meetings from our members’ point of view. Are our weekly meetings exciting enough for us to attend them week after week?  Do we give chance to everybody to be part of the programs and activities and give everyone a sense of belonging?


Club meetings need not be expensive to be exciting. We simply need to offer what our Rotarians want. Start by examining the demographics and composition of present members and find out what will make them enjoy our meetings.


In 1905 there were four people who got together because they simply wanted to have someone they can talk and relate to. We should not forget this original purpose of Rotary and start engaging our Rotarians with flexible and innovative meeting formats. To the oft-asked question, what is a quality Rotarian, my answer is always: “A quality Rotarian is a Rotarian that is having fun.” Fun meetings will cut across age, gender, and profession. It will have great value because fun fits everyone’s needs.


Community Service Projects
Our other showcase is our community service projects, great opportunities to rally and motivate the hearts of current and potential Rotarians.
In Rotary, we have unarguably done countless projects serving the needs of all sectors of our community. We might just even be the best provider in the Philippines because of the sheer magnitude of our network.


Which brings to the fore two questions: 1) Have we made a significant difference to the community that we serve? 2) Are we still eager to fork out an extra peso to sustain so many projects or are we already experiencing donor’s fatigue?


It is imperative to focus and plan community service projects to be more efficient and take into consideration sustainability. We become more motivated if we see the changes in the lives of the people we help.


Planning is just as important as implementation. Have we involved all our Rotarians in our service projects? Being part of the success of any endeavor is a reward by itself. When a Rotarian sees this value, giving more can be easily motivated.


If you always do what you you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got. Because of the same programs that we do again and again we get the same results again and again. I challenge all Rotarians to innovate and look beyond the obvious. The changes we want are right in front of us. Focus internally and see how weekly meetings and community service projects can be innovated. Create value for current and future Rotarians. Find what fits their needs. Always aim to improve our products to make them relevant to the people we target to buy into our Rotary Clubs. Remember: “The greater the fit, the greater the value.”