Membership Retention

Some thoughts on retaining members ...

Some thoughts on retaining members ...

Whether a club member is brand new, or has been a Rotarian for many years, it is vitally important to let each member know they are an important part of the club.

Today there are numerous other opportunities that are competing for Rotarian’s interests, time, and money, so it’s up to the local club to help make sure all members feel connected.

Do what is necessary to ensure Rotary is a meaningful part of all members’ lives. It’s important to be proactive in membership retention and not wait until several members submit their resignation before a club addresses the issue of retention. Investing volunteer energy in keeping your current members active and interested is time well spent.

Many members leave Rotary for perfectly understandable reasons. There are some reasons that cannot be helped, but many people leave Rotary for reasons that could have been prevented, if the club had a strong membership retention programme. 

What follows below are a variety of methods to retain new and existing members.  

These pages belong to you. So if you have ideas for membership retention,

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When should a club’s retention programme begin?

Retention of new members should begin, before they even join. One of the reasons that some people give for leaving Rotary is that it did not meet their expectations. For this reason, it is important that potential new members are given an accurate picture of the club they are considering joining and are given enough information to ensure that their expectations are realistic.  Many clubs encourage potential members to come along to several meetings before joining for this purpose.   Clubs may also like to consider providing Associate Membership to potential members as an opportunity for them to try before they buy.

An effective membership retention effort doesn’t just happen. For it to be effective, it requires the cooperation of the whole club.

One of the first suggestions is to carry out an analysis of your club into why members may leave your club.

From a survey of club presidents, the following are the most mentioned reasons for why people leave Rotary. Examine this list objectively to see if any ring true for your club.



1.      Poor club leadership.

2.      Lack of proper screening for quality members.

3.      Improper induction ceremony.

4.      Inadequate orientation of the new member.

5.      No participation or involvement.

6.      Non-fulfilment of sponsor’s responsibilities.

7.      Insufficient attention to members (new and old).

8.      Lack of friendship or fellowship.

9.      Cliques.

10.  Misjudgement in committee appointments and improper use of talents.

11.  No meaningful club projects.

12.  Clubs do not measure up to expectations.

13.  Boring meetings –- too formal and inflexible.

14.  Wrong meeting time and/or place.

15.  Poor order, planning and objectives.

16.  Lack of individual and collective discipline in reaching a common purpose.

17.  Complacency, indifference and apathy on the part of some members and officers.

18.  Loss of faith.

19.  Lack of proper recognition.

20.  No motivation, enthusiasm or dedication.

21.  Poor communication between officers and members.

22.  Excessive cost –- too many parties and social events.

23.  No follow-up on transfer members.

24.  Lack of encouragement to members to attend district and international events.

25.  Inadequate publicity to gain community support.

26.  Lack of continuing membership growth and development programs.

No matter how many of the above you found true for your club, there are simple, basic solutions you can implement starting today to minimize drops.



 1.Have new members immediately involved in a club assignment.

2.Follow up members who have been unusually absent.

3.Provide each new member with a mentor for his or her first six months.

4.Provide leadership training at the club level.

5.Concentration on quality members through proper screening.

6.Impressive and meaningful induction ceremonies.

7.Education or orientation of new member on Rotary history & culture.

8.Involvement of all members (new and old).

9.Family involvement. Spouse & children should be included club service activities.

10.   Sponsors should carry out their responsibilities toward the new members.

11.   Members must feel needed and wanted.

12.   More emphasis on service and quality fundraising projects.

13.  A connection with the community.

14.  Meetings should start on time and close on time.

15.  Meetings with free, creative spirit; tolerance, flexibility, good will and quick wits.

16.  Improved attendance through good and interesting programmes.

17.  Better planning and establishment of objectives and goals.

18.  Proper recognition.

19.  Reorientation and motivation of old members.

20.  Improvement on communications between officers and members.

21.  More teamwork.

22.  Cost of meals and social events should be low to keep dues reasonable.

23.  Members leaving the club due to job transfer should be referred to new club.

24.  Members should be encouraged to attend district and international conferences.

25.  Prestige and image of the organization should be maintained through good PR.

26.  Advice from the DG and AG can be sought to assist in solving problems.

27.  A year-round membership growth and development program should be consistently applied and monitored as a priority.


Even more ideas for retaining members

 1. Have greeters at the door offering a friendly welcome.

2. Club President to periodically sending a brief email keeping all members in the loop.

3. Have social functions that include spouse and partners.

4. Get involved in regular programmes on Rotary at district and international levels. This will help members relate with the bigger picture of Rotary and its impact in the world.

5. Have an active membership committee with members who have a passion for Rotary. The committee should meet 6-8 times a year and be one of the most active committees in the club.

6. Take part in district meetings and seminars on membership development and retention.

7. Produce and disseminate a good, newsy, reader-friendly newsletter. It should contain a liberal dosage of club members’ names. People like to see their names in print.

8. Make sure members are aware of the district and national goals.

9. Have a review meeting with a new member after two months. Establish how they are and how they’d like to develop their membership and act on it.

10. Produce a membership directory annually.

11. Have new members immediately involved in a community project.

12. When a person drops their club membership, have an informal “exit interview” or

questionnaire to learn of the reason. There might be some trends that can be detected and avoided.

13. Appoint a small “goodwill committee” who will send get-well, sympathy, or

congratulatory cards as appropriate.

14. Publicly recognize Rotarians who have reached career or family milestones. This pat on the back is well deserved and deeply appreciated.

15. Do Rotary profiles on a regular basis so Rotarians get better acquainted with each other.

16. Help keep the fun in Rotary by asking members to sit at different tables and participate in Rotary trivia table quizzes, games nights etc.

17. Adopt the philosophy “we care about you”. This could be the main focus of one committee. When people feel genuinely cared for and appreciated, they likely will have better attendance and get more involved.

18. Keep your club in the media. When the club has high visibility in the community it is more meaningful to be a member of Rotary. Club projects, social events, Paul Harris awards, etc. should have local newspaper and/or radio coverage.

19. Extend a personal invitation, rather than make a mass broadcast announcement, to members to attend seminars or district conferences. Some are unsure about district events and sit on the sidelines waiting to be asked. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to make new friends and get a broader picture and understanding of Rotary. There are several opportunities each year to do this. Have the club pay part of any required registration fee.

20. Use your Assistant Governor as a resource person. They have received special training and want to form a bond with your club. Don’t always wait for them to take the initiative.

21. Arrange for a few club members to visit nearby clubs and reciprocate by hosting others. This should be done at least twice a year. Get acquainted with your nearby clubs!

22. Give club recognition to 10-20-30-40-50+ year members.

23. Recognize those with several months of perfect attendance.

24. Make personal visits to Rotarians who miss 40% or more of the meetings. Let them know they are missed!

25. Offer occasional inexpensive prizes to add fun to the meetings. A bag of M & Ms, a large bar of chocolate or gift card, etc. can add fun and excitement to the club meetings.

26. Luncheon meetings sometimes can be a problem for many to attend. Maybe it’s time to explore other options i.e. start a new club or once a month meet at an alternative time.

27 Show appreciation for what members do in the club.

28 Consider the length of meeting times and how long it takes to make decisions. Try to chair meetings effectively to avoid lots of unnecessary chitchat.

 29. Ensure the club has a variety of social events for all tastes.

30. Keep in close contact with younger club members to see what they want to try and give them the opportunity to try new ideas.

 31. Have a Rotary minute at each meeting and just give a short fact about a recent success of Rotary International globally. This is to remind members that they are part of a larger and successful organisation.  

 32. Put the fun in Rotary! There is a time for seriousness and a time for fun and

laughter. Be sure your club has a good balance.








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