By Oyan Villanueva (Rotary coordinator, zone 7A)
At the center of the Philippine and Indonesian Regional Membership Plan is the concept of going back to basics and rediscovering Rotary. The plan’s aim is to encourage strong clubs to have clarity, relevancy, and focus. Growing economies like the Philippines and Indonesia still encounter poverty and needs for basic necessities just outside the doorstep. As such, community service projects can easily be done anywhere, any time. This is what most of the Rotary clubs in my region have been doing for so long.
Unfortunately, by focusing too much on community service and attempting to meet every need, Rotary clubs have lost their focus on the rest of what Rotary is about. Rotary club membership became more expensive as projects and obligations kept being added.
Through our Regional Membership Plan, clubs are being guided back to the rest of Rotary. Clubs are focusing, discovering, and capitalizing on their unique identity – and becoming more relevant to their members and communities. Through club visioning sessions, individual action plans are created based on club realities and looking for their relevancy to their communities. This is a toned-down strategic planning session and is focused on getting every club member to understand where the club needs to go.
Our membership plan addresses several key challenges for our region. The first challenge is the vast geographic expanse of the region: Some clubs are located in remote areas and are unable to receive necessary Rotary training and updates. By developing a team of passionate and capable Rotarian speakers and trainers, remote clubs are now getting updates and messaging. Clubs appreciate the presence of seasoned and knowledgeable trainers who challenge club officers and members to be innovative, and sometimes revolutionary, in their club activities. District seminars are particularly popular with Rotarians anticipating new approaches to old problems. The district membership development seminars occurring today are totally different; many participants are inspired to return to their clubs and try new ideas. Additionally, many have muttered, “Why didn’t I think of that idea before?”
Although our plan doesn’t specifically call out recruitment or retention strategies, we suggested replacing the word “recruitment” with the word “attract” has had great success.. The rationale behind this approach stems from the belief that in order for potential members to notice Rotary clubs, they first must be attracted to “something” about these clubs.
Discovering the club’s unique value proposition and establishing its identity is the key towards attracting individuals that enjoy the same activities or share the same advocacy values as existing members. Additionally, a deeper analysis of people’s reasons for joining organizations and their stage in life helps Rotary club members better identify who would be a good fit for their club.
As team lead for my area, encouraging clubs to engage members in a meaningful way is the most exciting part of our plan. Each club is responsible for making their club interesting and vibrant, Every meeting is an opportunity to retain members by simply doing activities that everybody enjoys and cause members to come back for more. Many Rotary clubs here have a tendency to be strict and traditional; clubs are challenged to break away from norms. Many ideas have been proposed by Rotarians such as holding a themed meeting with game ideas, similar to the noontime variety shows which are popular in the Philippines. Simply put, exciting and enjoyable club meetings are worth coming to every single week.
Find more membership resources, including your Regional Membership Plan on Rotary.org. Download Be a Vibrant Club and participate in Membership Month activities. View the recording of the recent webinar, Membership: It’s now or Never! to learn innovative ways of thinking about membership.