By Alan Hurst, Rotary coordinator, zone 32
On 7 September, we held a “Success Seminar” in Zone 32 with a twist: a post-lunch panel of four Millennial Rotary program alumni talking about their challenges to joining Rotary. The four panelists were a current and a past Rotaract President and two former exchange students.
Some of the comments we have heard time and time again but some were revelations.
- Carrie, a former exchange student, commented that she had been embraced by the family of Rotary, had been asked to be a Rotary Exchange (ROTEX?) member and help with exchange orientations, but had never been asked to attend a Rotary meeting.
- Beth, a 21 year old member of a Rotary e-club, said that we need to engage and empower younger members in meaningful ways. Millennials do not just want to participate in Rotary projects; they want to help lead them too.
- Kristina, a Rotaract club president, further elaborated on this topic by pointing out that there are leadership-building commonalities between Rotary, Rotaract and Interact programs but that newer generations aren’t asked to lead. Don’t assume they just want to be another committee member.
- Enrico, a former exchange student from Italy and past President of the Rotaract club of Yale, opened our eyes when he talked about the passive invitations to meetings and events he has received from some Rotarians.
- Enrico also commented that sometimes when he attends a meeting he is afraid to start a conversation because he doesn’t know what to talk about.
Let’s think about these comments for a minute. We have all heard these tips before. Be more active in inviting members. Don’t just ask potential members to participate by putting your name on the sign-up sheet. Provide the newer generations with leadership and service opportunities. Actively engage them in conversation when they are a meeting.
We discovered that the younger generation is much more interested in service while many of us older and more experienced Rotarians enjoy the fellowship aspect of Rotary. We have done a great job equipping this generation with leadership skills, now we need to let them lead and encourage them to achieve their fellowship through participation in meaningful service.
If we want to engage more Rotarians let’s give some newer members opportunities to be up front!