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!
This is very constructive comment and Rotary clubs need to listen. Far too often they don’t give the family of Rotary the opportunity to engage and take ownership of a project. The same applies to new young members of Clubs. Leave them sitting on the sidelines at your peril, invite all groups to meetings and not just to listen
Youth is the future we have much to share.
Our DG visited our club today and used the common phrase ‘use me or lose me’ which is the position of many new members, young and old. Most of us have become better leaders through experiences and connection in Rotary, so we need to give the same opportunities to the young generation who are hungry for personal growth and contacts.Great article, thanks.
Good insight Allan! I was speaking with a young, vibrant new Rotarian today at my club meeting. She participated in our District’s last GSE trip to Japan this past spring and was sold on Rotary and joined right away when she returned. She mentioned that she “chose” Rotary over 3 or 4 other possible charitable endeavours and wants to be able to focus with one organization. It is up to us to engage these new young members by having them lead projects; to mentor them but to get out of the way when they decide what it is they want to do and help them make a difference. She is already engaged!! I am so excited to see what she has accomplished in Rotary a few years from now!!