What are young professionals looking for?

Attendees at the Young Professionals Summit talked about how Rotary can better attract and engage young professionals.

Attendees at the Young Professionals Summit talked about how Rotary can better attract and engage young professionals.

30 Rotary members under the age of 40 gathered in downtown Chicago on 26-27 September to discuss how Rotary can better attract and engage young professionals.Chris Davidson, member of the Rotary Club of Newport News, Virginia, USA, wrote about his experience at this event recently on Rotary Voices, “Rotary offers so much to young people who have the desire to help others, make connections, and learn servant leadership in a world that desperately needs more of that.”Common themes to emerge from the event included:

  • They are looking for a fun, flexible Rotary experience.
  • Young professionals are not opposed to joining a club with older members
  • Millennials and Gen Y want to do significant acts of service and make a difference in others’ lives.
  • Young professionals are appreciative of the business and mentorship opportunities they experience through Rotary but do not feel that these benefits are being marketed effectively to their generation.

Connect with event attendees and other Rotarians in the Young Professionals Network group and discuss the future of Rotary.


The benefits of multi-generational membership

By Katie Ehlis, assistant Rotary Coordinator, Zone 28

I often speak to Rotarians about the importance of embracing the reality of a multi-generational membership. There are so many great things that come from clubs leveraging the different generations that make up their membership. I believe that when a club has an engaged, multi-generational membership, it has access to numerous perspectives about how to do things within your club. Some of these ideas and perspectives may have never been thought of or discussed before; all of them have the potential to make your club stronger.


Brittany Maupin from the United States (in a white shirt) and other attendees at the New Generations Celebration: Connect for Good session. Rotaract Preconvention Meeting, 31 May 2014, Sydney, Australia. © Rotary International

Members from all different generations have varying life experiences. Here are some tips on how to encourage cross-generational idea exchange and collaboration in your club:

  1. Ask members from multiple-generations to be part of your annual club visioning or to help solve a specific problem your club may have.
  2. Create a multi-generational committee. Ask members from a variety of generations to be part of it and ask them to come up with ideas on how to create awareness, find relevant speakers, and hold some fun multi-generational events.
  3. Hold generational training for your club. Have someone (maybe even one of your members) share some common traits and characteristics from the different generations. Talk about ways you can all work together.
  4. Think about the possibility of a satellite club! It’s worked for many clubs and can inject some new excitement and energy into your current membership.
  5. Set up an internal “mentoring” program and encourage all members to play the role of mentor. Consider flipping the norm – encourage younger members to mentor older members. We have a lot to learn from each other, no matter our age or life experiences. Encourage mentor partners to meet for coffee outside of club meetings, have conference calls, or even sit together during meetings.

The reality is that in some parts of the world our clubs aren’t doing a good job with sustaining a younger membership. It’s time for our clubs to think differently and shake things up! Without multiple generations engaged in Rotary we won’t be able to continue the amazing work we do for those who need it.

Still not sure how to engage multiple generations in your club? Contact ARC Katie or read the following articles to get some ideas about what might work in your club:

Tell our success story and increase Rotary’s image around the world

Written by Sambasiva Rao Patilbanda (Rotary public image coordinator, zone 5)

RPIC_Patibandla_SamRI President Ron Burton, at the Sydney convention, while talking about membership growth and how we are failing to adequately capitalize on our investment in Rotary said: “The bottom line is that Rotary’s future – it’s very survival – is up to us, we can either get up out of our chairs and really make something happen, or we can just sit there and become an endangered species and eventually die off.”

The above statement is a reflection of the situation we are in. We have to make something happen. We have to capitalize on all the good things we do around the world and encourage others to join Rotary. We have to start telling our story, our Rotary story – our success story.

Each one of more than 3000 rotary clubs in India has a success story about a project or event that can be shared with the world. Each one of more than 1, 30,000 Rotarians in India has a Rotary moment to share. Let us start telling others about how we – as Rotarians – have helped millions of people around the world lead a better life.

I and past district governor (PDG) Kamal Sanghvi, in our role as RPICs, are trained to help others tell their story in a compelling way and with a unified voice. Speaking in one voice will allow us to expand our reach into our communities and will highlight what Rotary has done around the world.

Start talking about our revamped, user friendly website; adopt our new voice and visual identity guidelines. Promote the use of Rotary tools designed to help Rotarians track progress towards their goals (Rotary Club Central) and share their projects with the greater world (Rotary Showcase). Use our Brand Center to let the public know that Rotary brings leaders together to exchange ideas and take action to improve communities everywhere.

Capitalize on our investment in Rotary by presenting ourselves to the world and sharing our stories with others. Bang the drum and don’t stop.

Rediscover Rotary and go back to basics

By Oyan Villanueva (Rotary coordinator, zone 7A)

10393968_10204222479903096_4008856637165303799_nAt 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.

P1030242Our 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.

P1030196As 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.

Leveraging Rotary Club Central to achieve success as a regional leader

Rotary launched many new online tools in the past few months and you (and district leaders) may find it overwhelming to learn how to use and leverage all of these resources. At the 2014 Institute, Rotary Coordinator Gayle Knepper shared how one of these tools, Rotary Club Central, helps empower coordinators and advisers to effectively do their job.

Rotary Club Central provides a high-level view of zone activity by showing how districts and clubs are performing by region. Even more valuable than this is the ability for you to hone in on a more detailed view to see how you can best assist districts that might need help.

Rotary club centralThis tool combines the most critical reporting features that contribute to vibrant clubs. District leaders can use it to set goals, make annual and long-range plans, assess progress and evaluate results. In the past, each of these actions were conducted and reported separately, so it was difficult for many districts and clubs to set and evaluate goals.

How might you use Rotary Club Central to achieve success in your region? This is how Gayle utilizes Rotary Club Central:

  • Consult effectively with districts: You can use the data available in Rotary Club Central to consult with and engage in conversations about specific trends and issues with district leaders. There is no longer a need to guess at the data since it is all right there for you to see.
  • Training: Rotary Club Central is a wonderful training tool.  Under the guise of training on Rotary Club Central, coordinators or advisers can provide education on Rotary’s strategic plan such as effective planning, member engagement, service, Rotary Foundation support, public image, and developing vibrant clubs.
  • Communicate with district leaders: Rotary Club Central provides a natural reason to communicate with district leaders.  As a coordinator or adviser, you can provide valuable observations to districts from an outside viewpoint.  It also enables coordinators and advisers to offer ideas, resources and support, specifically addressing an identified need.

A lot of districts have been slow to adopt Rotary Club Central as a goal-setting tool. This makes it harder for you to consult and communicate with leaders effectively. Have you had successes with overcoming these challenges to? How do you help districts and clubs see the value of this tool?