The Columbia Patuxent Club has a well-earned reputation for being, let’s say, irreverent. It is part of the culture of this particular Rotary club to be loud, boisterous, and hilarious, while at the same time doing a lot of important service work in Howard County. Recently I attended the club’s new member dinner where new members are invited to meet with the club’s leadership, learn about the club’s various committees and community service projects, and begin to build relationships that hopefully will last a Rotary lifetime.
New member dinners are an important part of Columbia Patuxent’s determined efforts to retain their newest members. In fact, the most successful clubs in the District follow a similar strategy to retain new members. And make no mistake, retaining new members is just as important as recruiting new members. The stats show that we typically lose an equal amount of members as we recruit each year, which is why it is so hard to grow NET new members.
Here are a few new member retention tips for your club to consider:
1. Have a “fireside chat” with new members that helps them set proper expectations for Rotary membership. Topics should include finance, the Rotary Foundation, attendance, club fundraising requirements, and other club issues and traditions.
2. Have a “red badge” tradition that sets specific goals for new members to meet when they join your club. Meeting all of the requirements results in a “stripping ceremony” that is fun for all.
3. Make the membership induction memorable….don’t just read it. Truly celebrate your new members.
4. Have a new member dinner where club leaders “pitch” new members about their committees and new members get to meet everyone is a relaxed social atmosphere.
5. Have new members attend RLI (Rotary Leadership Institute) and attend the District Conference. Both will enhance their knowledge of Rotary and increase member retention.
6. Encourage new members to have high expectations of club leaders and to be comfortable with sharing their ideas and opinions with the rest of the members.
If your club pays as much attention to keeping your new members as you do to recruiting them in the first place, your membership efforts will be amazingly successful. To learn more about member retention contact District Membership Chair, Darrell Nevin.