Rotary and Rotaract members in Taipei, Taiwan, take part in an after-hours service project. Creating a separate after-hour meeting can be an effective strategy to attract members your main group isn’t reaching.

By Galen Engel, Rotary Club of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, USA

When I first became a member, I was interested in membership. I was new and didn’t know many people in the club and the incoming president asked me to be Sergeant at Arms. It’s a good way to get to know everybody and it’s fun.

In the club of 65 members, the same 10 people seemed to be the ones that were involved in everything. I thought it would be an easy job to engage the whole group and get the rest of them involved. After eight months, I had some success, but not as much as I had thought. It became apparent that it would be easier to build a new group to attract a younger and more vibrant membership base.

Why can’t the same club serve more people by having different meeting times in separate places? Why should we expect people from all parts of town to drive 20 minutes to get to our Monday meeting? Is it necessary to come together once a week in the same place when each group will have separate needs and community concerns?  What if we had liaisons from each of several separate meeting locations that would get together once a month with the club board? And then all members would get together once a quarter for training and fellowship. This would keep us all on the same page.

After hours format

All meetings could have the same objective of service and growth. The separate groups could compete with each other for fundraising goals and membership. They could come together for combined service projects and to support smaller clubs in the area to help expand their vision and membership.

What I envision is starting with one After Hours meeting, an alternative meeting time every other week. Everyone would have a voice in service projects, membership, fundraising, and future direction. It is important this new group feels in control of where the funds they raise are directed. Half of everything that is raised could go into the general club fund, and the other half to areas this group decides.

If this can be done once, why not do it three or four times in different parts of town not being served or represented by our club? The goal would be to have three or four After Hours groups with 25-30 new members meeting at different times and places, paying dues, raising money, helping serve their local communities and bringing in young excited members. Members who step up to run the smaller meeting groups would gain experience before being put into the five-year rotation of club president. Now we would have a young vibrant leadership team to help engage the older members.

New meeting a year

Meeting areas should be far enough away from each other as to cover all areas of the city, increasing diversity. Even in small towns, different areas have different needs. Nobody understands these needs more than the people who live in these areas. The key to making this, or any other membership model, work is finding the right person to chair the membership committee in each club, district, and zone.

If you created one new meeting time each year, and each new meeting attracted 15 new members every year, by the end of the fifth year, you would have brought in 225 new members. The first new meeting time could split off into its own new club. It would look like this:

Meeting 1 Meeting 2 Meeting 3 Meeting 4 Meeting 5
15 15
15 15 15
15 15 15 15
New Club 15 15 15 15

Share your thoughts and ideas below.