RI president urges every Rotarian to bring in new members.


By Antoinette Tuscano
Rotary International News
Photo courtesy of RI zones 29 and 30

31 July 2007

With Rotary's demographics changing and membership decreasing in North America, Rotarians must "change the way we think about membership," RI President Wilfrid J. Wilkinson told attendees at a presidential membership conference held 20-21 July in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

"The current recruitment practices of clubs can't continue," Wilkinson said. "What needs to happen is for every Rotarian in every club to bring in one qualified new member every year."

Inviting new club members is one way Rotarians can live up to this year's theme of Rotary Shares, said Wilkinson at the conference. The conference is one of a series of seven events to be held in July and August in Canada and the United States. In July the conferences were held in Philadelphia; Nashville; and South Bend, Indiana. In August, the conferences will be held in Denver; Vancouver, B.C.; San Jose, California; and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. If those events prove successful, similar ones may be organized in other parts of the world.

The two-day conferences include plenary sessions, panel discussions, and workshops on topics such as generational differences, demographic changes, potential new members, and the challenges of service organizations.

Wilkinson cited RI research showing that only 18 percent of Rotarians in a given club ever bring in a new member. But inviting qualified, active members is "the single most important thing that you can do for your club and community," he said. To survive and continue to meet communities' increasing needs, Wilkinson stressed, "Rotary needs to grow."

The goal of the presidential conferences was for Rotarians to come away with plans for finding and keeping club members. Wilkinson noted, however, that there's no one-size-fits-all solution for Rotary clubs.

"Rotary Shares," he said, "and each one of us must take it upon ourselves individually to share the gift of Rotary membership with one new person - this year, and every year to come."

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