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State of Membership

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State of Membership

  1. 1. THE STATE OF MEMBERSHIP Rotary International Membership Development October 2019
  2. 2. 2 Charlotte Ahlberg Rotary E-Club of 2410se Färjestaden, SWEDEN Michael Stone Rotaract club of Birmingham Alabama, USA WITH US TODAY:
  4. 4. 4 POLL What does “Grow Rotary” mean to you?
  5. 5. 5 ROTARY.ORG/STRATEGICPLAN GROWING ROTARY Support existing clubs Expand our reach
  6. 6. 6
  7. 7. 7 “Rotary is annually generating a scale of social and economic problem-solving effort that is worth nearly nine times more than it costs the organization to produce,” —Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies 47 MILLION Volunteer hours per year $850 MILLION Worth of community service
  8. 8. 5-YEAR MEMBERSHIP TRENDS, 1 JULY 1.2 Million Members 2015 1.204 2016 1.203 2017 1.202 2018 1.195 2019 1.189
  9. 9. REGION 2019 2009 Asia 32% 26% Canada, the Caribbean, and the United States 28% 32% Africa, Europe and the Middle East 25% 25% Latin America 8% 8% Great Britain and Ireland 4% 5% Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands 3% 4%
  10. 10. Reputation, traditions and established customs Making a difference, flexibility, and innovation Personal and professional growth Service DELIVERING VALUE
  11. 11. MEMBERSHIP OVERVIEW 1,189,466 members 46% age 50-69 5% under 40 273,577 women 35,890 clubs
  12. 12. Does your club reflect the demographic profile of the area’s business, professional, and community leaders?
  13. 13. 26% 0 District governors Source: Rotary International as of July 1, 2019 WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP, 2019-2020 Club presidents Regional leaders RI Directors RI President 21% 28% 10% Club presidents District governors Regional Leaders RI Directors RI President
  14. 14. 172,030 members 10,000 clubs 179 countries +1,223 clubs in 2018-2019 ROTARY.ORG/ROTARACT 52% women
  15. 15. Service oriented Impact focused Personal & professional development Supportive of Areas of Focus
  16. 16. 158,000 MEMBERS 164,500 MEMBERS 52% have been members for less than three years
  17. 17. When members do leave our club, we take the time to talk to them and understand why? YOU SAID: Yes 69% No 25% I’m not sure 16% 1027 webinar responses
  18. 18. WHY MEMBERS LEAVE 34% Cost and/or time 20% Club environment 17% Unmet expectations 34% would not recommend Rotary
  19. 19. WHY ROTARY?
  20. 20. Prospective and current members value LOCAL COMMUNITY SERVICE
  21. 21. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT “When we say yes to Rotary, I don’t think many people understand the scope of what they’re saying yes to. The great joy is finding that out.” – A Rotarian
  22. 22. Leadership Development Program (LDP) 9 months Learn about the responsibilities of leading a club AND your leadership style Professional Partners Program
  23. 23. Do you regularly ask for feedback from members in order to change what is no longer working? YOU SAID: Yes 78% No 15% I’m not sure 7% 1035 webinar responses
  24. 24. POLL How satisfied are you with the pace of change in your club?
  27. 27. ROTARY.ORG/MEMBERSHIP CHALLENGES FACED BY CLUB LEADERS 43% Attracting new members 26% Accommodating the varied needs of members
  28. 28. MEMBERSHIP LEADS 50% have a personal connection to Rotary 59% under 40 37% women 71% NEVER CONTACTED 19,500 leads/year
  32. 32. Q&A MembershipDevelopment

Editor's Notes


    Today, we will take a look at the state of Rotary’s membership, how we got here, who is joining — as well as who is leaving — and the opportunities we all have to make membership a top priority. If we want to continue to create lasting change in our communities, in our world, and in ourselves, we have to act on what we know.

    We will also:
    Consider whether embracing diversity can make us stronger
    Identify resources for strengthening clubs
    Answer as many questions as we can from you
    We have some membership experts who will join us for Q&A including:
    Julie Aubry and Emily Tucker, regional membership officers for parts of North America

    We’ll ask you to do several polls throughout, so here’s one to start. Some of you may have heard the phrase “Grow Rotary” or “Growing Rotary.” President Mark Maloney talks about it this way: “We need to grow Rotary. We need more hands doing service, more brains coming up with ideas. We need more partnerships, more connections.”
    So I want to see what that phrase means to you:

    Bring in more members
    Support existing members
    Create new channels for underrepresented groups
    All of the above
    Not sure

    (Comment on results) Increasing Rotary’s footprint


    The emphasis on growing Rotary involves a two-part strategy that aligns with the priorities of Rotary International’s strategic plan. One part involves continued support of our traditional clubs. The second part seeks to develop new models for engaging with Rotary that may appeal to qualified but underrepresented demographic groups who are either unable or unwilling to join our traditional clubs. This includes the development of new and more flexible club types, and also new channels into the organization that are not club-based.

    And that’s where public image and being out in the community comes into play. We need to be out in the community, doing the work. Word Polio Day allows us the celebrate our accomplishments and bring awareness to what we do.

    Check out Rotary’s Facebook page for information on how to participate in World Polio Day.

    Our  members are our greatest assets. And when Rotary’s membership is strong, our clubs are more vibrant, Rotary has greater visibility, and our members have more resources to help communities flourish.
    At the 2019 Hamburg Convention this past June, we unveiled the findings of a special report by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies to measure our impact. The report estimated 47 million hours of volunteer effort generated by Rotary members in a typical year. The report then analyzed the economic impact of all those hours and estimated the value conservatively at $850 million a year, if communities had to pay for the services that Rotary volunteers provide.

    What is the impact of this study? “Translated into economic terms, Rotary is annually generating a scale of social and economic problem-solving effort that is worth nearly nine times more than it costs the organization to produce,” —Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies

     Charlotte, what can you tell us about the State of Rotary’s membership?

    Over the past five years, we’ve remained at around 1.2 million members. Although we experienced a slight decrease last year, overall our membership is still strong.
    To accomplish all the good in the world that we want to do, we need a commitment and a continued emphasis on growing Rotary and Rotaract from our club, district, and zone leaders. Keeping Rotary relevant and thriving into our second century, while continuing to enhance our members’ lives, requires a willingness to be innovative, seek out diversity, and adapt to changing needs.

    In the past 10 years, we’ve seen a change in the regional makeup of our Rotary membership. In Asia, for example, more than 50,000 people have joined clubs since 2014. It now has 32% percent of the world’s Rotarians. Japan, after many years of decline, has not only slowed its losses but is beginning to gain.
    Unfortunately, during the same period, Canada, the Caribbean, and the United States together lost over 50,000 members — dropping from 32% percent of all Rotarians to 28% percent.

    One way we can grow and strengthen our membership is by delivering value to our members. It can be the difference between someone who stays in Rotary for just three years and someone who stays for a lifetime. Here’s what people in each region value most:
    In Asia, people place significant value on reputation, traditions, and established customs.
    In Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, members need to feel they can contribute and make a difference. They also appreciate flexibility and innovation that make the club experience more vibrant.
    In Canada, the Caribbean, and the United States, members value the personal and professional growth that they get from being a Rotary member.
    And in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, service projects are what makes members feel engaged and motivated.

    Michael, what do we know about the demographic makeup of our members?

    As of 1 July, we had:
    1,189,466 Rotarians, which is a decrease of 5,461 members since 1 July 2018.
    35,890 clubs, an increase of 209 from last year. Starting new clubs expands our reach and increases our capacity for service around the world. Alternative membership types and club experiences, including corporate memberships and flexible meeting times, can help clubs address the needs of current and potential members.
    Information in Rotary Club Central suggests that most of our members are ages 50 to 69, though definite figures are hard to gauge because 37 percent of our members don’t indicate their age in their profiles.
    Women make up 23 percent of our members, an increase of about 1 percent since 1 July 2018.  (What’s the actual figure??)

    Did you know that the Board of Directors recently adopted a formal policy on Diversity and Inclusion? It states that we value diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for people of all backgrounds, regardless of their age, ethnicity, race, color, abilities, religion, socioeconomic status, culture, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. And that Rotary will cultivate a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture in which people from underrepresented groups have greater opportunities to participate as members and leaders.

    Taking this formal decision means that all of us should evaluate whether our clubs reflect the demographic of the communities we serve. And if not– why not?

    Women account for more than 20 percent of Rotary’s global membership, but as you can see, they are underrepresented in leadership positions throughout the organization. The Board of Directors set a goal for women to make up 30 percent of our members and leaders by June 2023.

    Not only does diversity makes us stronger, but prospective members– especially younger professionals value diversity in a club. Let’s look at Rotaract for an example of how our differences present an opportunity to learn from other perspectives and solve problems in new and creative ways.


    The 2019 Council on Legislation amended our constitutional documents to include Rotaract clubs as members in Rotary International. This action elevates Rotaract and positions Rotary for a future that’s innovative, inclusive, and better able to adapt to the world around us.
    Last year was incredible for Rotaract. More than 1,200 new Rotaract clubs were chartered during the 2018-19 Rotary year. There are now over 10,000 Rotaract clubs and more than 170,000 reported members globally.

    Breakdown of men/women in Rotaract


    Young professionals can make great Rotary members, but to bring them into our clubs we first need to understand them. Who is the “typical” Rotaractor? What they value is not that different from a potential member.

    Extremely service-oriented
    Desire to make long-term, impactful change in communities and globally
    Ambitious, eager to develop personally and professionally
    Committed to their Rotaract clubs and supporting Rotary causes

    They believe that Rotaract is rewarding and has contributed positively to their growth and development, and want to be valued and engaged with their sponsor Rotary Club.

    If you want to learn more about this demographic, Check out “Engaging Young Professionals”, available at, offers practical tips and resources to help you engage young professionals in your area. (Or better yet, talk to a young professional yourself??)

    Charlotte, what do we know about why members leave Rotary?


    Rotary doesn’t have a problem generating interest in membership. More than 158,000 people joined last year. But as you see, an almost equal number of people left. And half of those who leave were members for less than three years.
    Before they join, 90% of prospective members have very positive impressions of Rotary, and were inspired by our history and mission. Yet after they join, only 44% percent still anticipate being lifelong members. And only half of our current members would recommend Rotary to their families, friends, and colleagues.
    So what’s happening — or not happening — between when they join and when they leave?

    When you registered for this webinar, we asked whether you take the time to talk to members who leave your club and understand why.

    (Comment on results)

    How young people view loyalty differently?

    According to a Harvard Business Review article, In today’s knowledge economy, skilled employees are the asset that drives organizational success. Thus companies must learn from them—why they stay, why they leave, and how the organization needs to change. A thoughtful exit-interview (EI) process can create a constant flow of feedback on all three fronts. Rotary is no difference.


    A large scale survey conducted by Rotary International indicates that 34 percent of former members cited cost or time as the No. 1 reason they leave.
    RI President Mark Daniel Maloney reminds us that: “The job of a Rotarian should never be seen as a time commitment too great for a busy professional to consider. Otherwise, we’re closing the door to the contributions of the people we need most in Rotary — the ones with the potential for decades of Rotary service and leadership. We need to meet people right where they are, at whatever stage of life they are in, and welcome them.”
    Many departing members also cite the club environment and say their expectations weren’t met. Imagine being excited to be a Rotarian, only to discover that the experience you were promised isn’t available. Bringing in more members to replace the ones we lose isn’t the answer. We need to be honest with potential members about our club experience if we hope to change these numbers.
    And we need to be flexible so we can accommodate the needs of our members and the community. Clubs have more freedom than ever to structure themselves in ways that work for every member. There is a club for everyone. And if there isn’t one in your community, we need to create one.

    (NOTE FOR CHARLOTTE AND THOSE DOING MATH: the remaining percentage would be categorized as a “life changing event” -- family obligations, relocation, health concerns, and retirement.)


    So why Rotary? What do we offer that’s unique? Here’s what current members said:
    “Rotary is a worldwide organization with the power to make meaningful change.”
    “It affords a platform for personal growth and development, quality friendships, leadership development, and the opportunity to give back to the society.”
    What’s encouraging is that these responses reflect our vision statement. Members clearly understand the value of Rotary.

    When we look at what potential and current members value most, some interesting trends appear. Both list “participating in service projects to positively impact my community” as the opportunity they value most. But potential members also want to make change globally and foster their careers through professional development and networking.
    Current members, however, value community service, friendship and fellowship, and connecting with people outside work and their circle of friends. So even when both groups cite making a positive impact through service as their top reason for joining or staying, they each have different motivations. If those desires aren’t met, they may no longer have a reason to say yes to Rotary.

    Michael, what else do we know about what prospective members are looking for?

    Our research shows us that prospective members are looking for opportunities to grow personally and professionally. Rotary offers them that.

    Consider the Rotarian who was terrified of public speaking and trembled her way through her first 5-minute speech. She was later asked to speak at an institute in front of 500 people, and now trains others in public speaking.
    Think of the member who counts her experience in Rotary as why she attained a new job as a community engagement manager: “I wouldn’t have gotten it if I wasn’t a part of Rotary.”

    You don’t have to offer a formal professional development strategy for members to achieve their goals. Every service project or event you hold is a chance for someone to lead and grow. Members can also take online courses through Rotary’s Learning Center, or you can hold a Leadership in Action session for club members and your community. Find information for creating your own Leadership in Action session on My Rotary.

    The next time someone asks you about Rotary, you can say: “You’ll achieve more than you ever thought possible. And you won’t do it alone.”

    Leadership Development

    In 2014, our Club developed a Leadership Development Program. The purpose of this nine-month program is to provide this select group of members the opportunity to engage with their club and learn about the responsibilities of leading it, while at the same time learning more about their own leadership style.

    The highlight of the LDP program is the Professional Partners Program, which is a collaborative effort between our club and the Downtown Rotary Club of Birmingham. A Rotaract member is paired with a member of the Downtown Rotary Club who shares his or her professional field or a common area of interest for a series of one-on-one mentorship opportunities over the course of a few months.

    So how do you know what the members of your club are looking for?

    Here’s another question you answered in advance of this webinar. Do you regularly ask for feedback from members in order to change what is no longer working?

    (Comment on results)

    Importance Of Customer Feedback With Statistics
    Customer experiences are so important because a customer review that spreads and goes viral can make or break your business.

    It is said that one happy customer can lead to nine referrals.

    But one angry customer can lead to 26 other angry customers.

    If the customers are not satisfied, 13% of them will tell 15 or even more people that they are unhappy.

    On the other hand, 72% of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people.


    So, it’s critical to TAKE ACTION upon the feedback you receive. You need to change. Which can be scary. So let’s talk about the overall pace of change. Do you think the pace of change in your clubs is:

    Too slow
    Just right
    Too fast

    When asked, 78% of current members said the pace of change in their clubs is just right. But over 40% of resigned members said it was too slow. Overall, we need to increase our speed and ability to adapt, shorten the timeframe for approving and implementing policy changes, and build a culture of innovation and willingness to take risks.

    So Charlotte, now let’s talk about resources and support. What can clubs to grow Rotary?

    First, I’d like everyone to imagine something with me.

    If someone walked into your club meeting — uninvited but curious to learn more — what would they find? Would they be warmly welcomed? Would your members appear engaged? Would they leave understanding who you are and how you’re helping your community? And would someone follow up with them to see what they thought about the experience?

    If you answered no to any of those questions, it’s time to take an honest assessment. If you find that your club needs to improve, Rotary offers resources to help. You can find them at Remember this address — write it down, take a picture of it. And visit as often as you need to.

    With more than 50 resources available to you at, finding the one that meets your needs can seem like a challenge. Earlier this year, we developed a new resource called the “Club Planning Assistant.” This interactive tool asks a series of simple questions and then recommends resources for addressing those specific challenges.

    In fact, we were so excited about this that we invited every club president and membership chair in the world to take it and share with us their biggest membership challenges.
    The majority listed “Attracting New members” as their biggest challenge. But many also said that Accommodating the needs of prospective and current members (busy schedules, family or financial obligations, etc.) was a challenge too. Addressing both of these challenges effectively requires us to think differently and adapt to change more quickly.

    There is one opportunity that all clubs and districts should pay closer attention to.
    Membership candidates are prospective members who use Rotary’s come through to express interest in joining a club. A notice of their interest is sent to a district, and district and club leaders can track those notices through the Manage Membership Leads page of My Rotary. Last year, 19,500 people contacted Rotary this way.

    Look at the demographics of these membership candidates: 37% are women and 59% are under 40. Those are the demographics we are so often hoping to attract into our clubs, the ones who would help Rotary look more like the communities it serves. The people who are currently missing or underrepresented from our current demographics.
    Unfortunately, clubs contacted less than a third of the prospective members assigned to them last year. In fact, in places that experienced the highest decline in membership, an equally high percentage of membership leads were never contacted.
    When we don’t respond to inquiries, we miss more than just the chance to expand our clubs — we lose a chance to build goodwill in the community and a positive impression of Rotary.

    The second challenge club leaders mentioned is accommodating the varied needs of their members. If your current structure is working, there’s no need to change it. But clubs actually have more freedom than ever to create an experience that works for their current and prospective members.
    What kind of club do you want to be? What is unique about your club? Share stories of clubs with different goals.

    Clubs around the world are taking advantage of this flexibility. Here are some ways clubs are meeting the diverse needs of their members and their communities:
    Starting a satellite club to give qualified people who can’t attend club meetings a chance to join Rotary.
    Changing how, when, and how often clubs meet. Some examples are meeting just twice a month, switching from a sit-down meal to a less formal — and likely less expensive — gathering, or replacing a regular meeting with a social event or service project.
    Offering a new membership type. For example, offering a corporate membership to attract multiple members of the same company, or an associate membership for younger professionals who want an option that costs less or requires less time.
    Meeting online to attract members who can’t attend in-person meetings.
    Developing a cause-based club to attract and engage members who are passionate about a specific issue, like water or peace.
    You can find more information at

    Back to you Carolyn.

    What can you do with all of this information, especially if some of it is new to you? I suggest three things:
    Take time to understand membership data and trends in your region. We can offer you a global look at the state of membership, but Rotary Club Central makes it easy for you to see the trends closest to you.
    Ask members what matters most to them. Find out what they value, what they might be missing, and what they need to stay a member for life. And make sure you deliver that.
    Finally, visit for resources to support you. Whether you need access to club assessments, directions on how to manage your membership leads, or even guidelines for starting new clubs and membership types, there is likely a resource designed to help.

    When people join a Rotary club, their potential to make a difference in the world grows exponentially. That’s because they’re joining a network of over 1.2 million people who take action — volunteers from all over the world who share a goal of improving people’s lives.
    But simply joining isn’t going to change lives or make those connections. That happens when members get involved and take every opportunity to get the most out of their Rotary membership, even and maybe especially opportunities outside the club experience – fellowships, action groups, cadres, online discussion groups, youth exchange. The opportunities are there.

    Whether they’re connecting with their club, community, or the larger Rotary world, let your members know they’re connecting for good.
    Our members are our greatest assets: a diverse group of professionals who share the drive to serve their communities. And together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change — across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.
    Okay, now we’ll take some questions from you. Submit them via the “question pane.”
  • 11:45 begin Q&A

    LA to send Carolyn questions

    The value of E clubs to attract members who don't fit the membership requirements of a 'meet in person' club (CHARLOTTE)
    Can you provide some examples where Rotaract and Rotary Clubs work well together. (MICHAEL)
    How do we change clubs mentality with out changing the culture. (CHARLOTTE)
    How do we combat overwhelming emphasis on "diverse" and "young" which alienates current members who are not "diverse" or "young" or both? (MICHAEL)
    How do we speed up the pace of the required changes that clubs need to undertake in order to start growing again? (CHARLOTTE)