I had a really valuable experience this weekend. I was hired to deliver a keynote for a service club state convention - that was not Rotary. I was struck by so many similarities between Rotary events and this one - passionate people doing unbelievable work, enthusiastic members who really enjoyed meeting each other and gathering to celebrate their accomplishments.
Both talk often of the challenge to attract new members, improve retention and add younger members. I listened to several presentations as I waited for my turn to present. And it struck me how hard we all work to find the next new member of our respective clubs. And sometimes we try so hard with all of our tactics and techniques that we forget that it is not about the numbers. It is about, as I have written many times, connecting people with their passions.
So I had a sudden insight that I offered to the audience yesterday:
What would it be like if we had conversations with prospective members that inspired them to live out THEIR individual passions in community service? What if we were more committed to that person finding THEIR true outlet for service, even if it did not mean joining our particular club?
If you think about it, this kind of committed detachment might be just the thing that brings lots of new members to Rotary. If we elevate the conversation, what might be possible? The key is making sure that people serve somewhere! And if Rotary is the right answer, and the timing is right, and if WE ARE TALKING TO QUALIFIED PROSPECTIVE MEMBERS, then maybe, just maybe, they will decide to join Rotary after all.
There are too many opportunities to make a difference in the world that, worse than not joining Rotary would be not serving anywhere at all! Let go of the notion that everyone needs to join Rotary. Play at a higher level. We need more people serving our communities in all kinds of service - Rotary and otherwise.
What do you think?