Increase Rotary Membership and Don’t Call Me Shirley

During the development of the movie, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication, we intended to make the film available to every Rotarian in the world for free.  We felt the story was so important, and so entertaining, that Rotarians would reengage with the polio eradication story….a necessity when you consider that we need to support polio eradication for three years after the last official case of polio is recorded. Surely getting people to watch the movie when it didn’t cost anything wouldn’t be a tough sell.

I thought changing the distribution plan for the movie to make it a fundraiser for polio was a good idea.  After all, we are charging $25 TOTAL for the movie, INCLUDING the $18.75 contribution to Polio Plus, and having walked down the DVD isle at Best Buy I could see that the price point wasn’t cheap, but it wasn’t outrageous either.  Especially when you consider we are selling the movie for $6.25 and the rest of the price is a charitable contribution to Rotary’s most important project.

The new distribution plan is to make the first 18-minutes of the movie a FREE club program.  We’ve given Club Presidents a FREE downloadable PDF on how to conduct a discussion with club members about the movie and Rotary’s polio eradication efforts. What better “teaser” to buy the film than to show the first 18-minutes? Surely Rotarians will want to see how the story ends, right? (Forgive me for this, but I can’t help but add this clip from the movie, Airplane, where using the term “surely” has been forever ruined for me and for other Airplane fans.  This is Leslie Nielson in the first of many movie parodies that resurrected his career and Robert Hays as the ex-pilot, Ted Striker.)

Surely (I dare you not to say it) Club Presidents won’t show the 16-minute download plus the two minutes of credits and think that’s the end of the movie? Surely they won’t skip the discussion about polio? Surely they won’t miss this opportunity to sell the movie to their members so that everyone actually sees the end of the story and learns the important lessons offered by the great Rotarians who put us on the path to polio eradication? And surely they will stress that the movie is a much needed, and Bill and Melinda Gates matched, contribution to Polio Plus?

As importantly, will Rotary clubs avail themselves of the opportunity to use this film to recruit and retain new members? For example, why not gather all the new members from the past twelve months and have a “new member dinner” where everyone is invited to a club officer’s house to watch the movie, enjoy good food and frosty beverages, and generally discuss their Rotary experience so far? What better way to bond new members to the club, to Rotary’s greatest goal, and to each other?

Same thing with new prospective members. Why not have a special evening where anyone who has visited the club in the past is invited to a special movie night at a club member’s home who has a wide-screen TV, where they watch the film, enjoy good food and drink, and then discuss Rotary membership? What better way to introduce someone to club membership and Rotary’s illustrious history in a fun and non-threatening way?

Time will tell if changing our movie distribution plan to a fundraiser was a mistake. If Rotary clubs watch the free 18-minute club program and individual members don’t buy the film and learn the full story it will be a shame. Even though raising money for Polio eradication is important, if we don’t use this film as a tool for public image and membership retention and recruitment, we will be missing a big opportunity.

I can’t let you leave this post without enjoying one more famous (imfamous) clip from the movie, Airplane. My apologies for the violence depicted. As I recollect, we were all slapping each other for weeks after the movie came out. Here is Lloyd Bridges and Robert Stack, among others, creating chaos in the air and on the ground.

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