By Amrit Pal Singh, immediate past president, Rotary Club Chandigarh, India
For a Rotary club to be effective, it must be active in all avenues of service. It must also create a positive public image and be a catalyst for promoting peace and understanding globally. The key to achieving this lies in the members. Without members, there is no club, and without effective members, clubs cannot be effective.
Many leaders talk about membership development and retention in their strategy sessions. Some complain about disinterested members, while their members talk about feeling disconnected to the club or even to Rotary in general.
As president of my club last year, I had the opportunity to look at membership closely. I feel the burden lies on both sides. To have an effective club, members and leaders must work together to build community and trust. In particular, leaders should:
- Get members involved: Members need to be active in projects and programs of the club. Give them specific tasks according to their expertise and time. This could be as small as delivering announcements at a meeting or as big as running a project or fundraiser. When members are involved, they feel more connected. And an active Rotarian is a committed Rotarian.
- Give members responsibility: Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks, and give members independence and ownership. Encourage members to make a project their own, be it a small one like beautifying a community park or a big effort like a global grant application for water and sanitation systems in Africa. Encourage them along the way.
- Create a sense of belonging: The club and its members should be like one extended family. Welcome members at meetings and take time to learn what is going on in their lives outside the club. Come up with activities that allow established members to get to know newer ones. Let members know the club stands behind them and is there to support them if they need anything.
- Build trust: Conduct yourself in a manner that earns your members’ trust. The Four-Way Test is a reminder that if you follow basic ethics in your daily life you will earn trust. Members will give you their best when they trust you.
- Acknowledge success and effort: Take time at a club meeting to acknowledge successful efforts. Consider writing something up in the club’s newsletter or on your website. Extending compliments builds a member’s sense of worth and satisfaction in the club.
- Communicate well and regularly: Provide your members with information on everything happening in the club. Share the decisions of your board both during meetings and in club publications. Seek your members input on key decisions.
Members also have a responsibility to see that a club succeeds. This includes:
- A sense of commitment: Members should show they are committed to the cause and purpose of the club and Rotary in general by being available to perform tasks, contribute to events and projects, and do more than show up for a meal.
- A sense of ownership: Members should take on activities or projects and make them their own. Give your club the same attention you would your profession or personal efforts. Give it your time and attention.
- A sense of sharing: Share your insight and expertise with others, whether professional or personal.
- A sense of giving: Be ready to give of your time, effort, or money, to the extent you are able. When everyone in a club is generous with their time, money and talents, a club thrives.
- A sense of accountability: Be accountable to the club and to each other. If you are given a task, do it with the same diligence you would your job or a personal pursuit. Don’t renege or go back on a commitment to another member or the club without discussion. A club’s performance reflects on its members. If a club is struggling, it’s probably because some or all of its members aren’t fully committed.
I strongly feel both the club leadership and its members are responsible for creating a bond of love and affection, an atmosphere of togetherness, and all-around camaraderie. Everyone has to make an effort in order to create an effective Rotary club.