So far, I have visited over 60 Rotary/Rotaract clubs, along with their boards. I have about 15 more visits to go, including Iqaluit. Hopefully, I will be finished with all but a few visits by the end of March.
My official club visits have been the best part of my term as District Governor. I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to meet such a diverse group of clubs and Rotarians/Rotaractors within the District. The impact these clubs are having, especially in small communities is remarkable. Learning about the club's various fundraisers along with their service projects, both locally and overseas, are true examples of Rotary’s motto “Service above Self.”
However, when asked, these clubs have also shared with me their concerns and the responses are almost universal.
  1. Membership - how can they increase our numbers through both recruiting and retention.
  2. Need to increase the number of active members.
  3. Fundraising - how to continue at the same level with less members.
  4. How to prevent member burnout and further loss of members
How significant are these issues? When I asked clubs if they would still exist in 3-5-10 years... they did not answer. I also asked if their club closed would there be another organization in their community standing by to take over the activities they supported. Many times, this answer was no.
Any loss of a club is significant. In cities with multiple clubs there can be mergers but in small one-club communities the closure of a Rotary club can be devastating.
So How do we proceed from here???
For many of our Rotary clubs to survive and become more robust, we have look at change.  Making changes can be a challenging, it also can be exciting.  When I consider this subject, I think of this famous quote which is credited to Albert Einstein: 

“Insanity is doing the same think over and over again and expecting different results.”

Managing Change and Recruiting Younger members
As a young Rotarian recently told me during one club visit (the last remaining younger member of four that joined), the other young Rotarians left because all the club does is meet at 7 am, eat and talk. He and those that left the club were interested in doing hands-on projects, not eating, and also, meeting at times that worked for them as they had work and family obligations to consider.
Option 1- Drastic-
  • Change the club meeting time to the afternoon starting around 4:30 or 5:00 pm
  • conduct the business portion of the meeting first or
  • meet and do a service project, then end the meeting and those that want to are free to stay and eat.
Option 2- Medium- Either add an extra meeting or change one meeting a month to the format listed above.
  • Either keep the current meeting time and/or add an alternate meeting time
  • Also add hands on projects by reaching out through your President’s council or separately to other clubs and plan 1-2 joint hands-on events a month for those who want to participate. Examples, roadside cleanup, good will dinners, food distributions, working with the homeless, reading in classrooms, etc.
Remember to go Old School. All clubs need to:
  • pick a Membership Chair, Membership Chair Manual
  • form a functioning membership committee,
  • publicize the club through social media. Brochures and other means
  • conduct fireside chats,
  • contact/follow up with members who miss meetings,
  • have sponsors for new members,
  • create a red badge/orientation program,
  • find out what members are passionate about and engage them,
  • and listen to what members want.
Change is hard...but failure to do so could mean your club closes.
If you have any questions for me please contact me at