Every few years, District 5150 sends members of the Governor Line to Rotary International Headquarters to meet with key staff and leaders to be briefed on the latest information and bring back new knowledge and resources to help our clubs.  The last trip occurred in 2018, and so our team was overdue for a visit.
Visiting Rotary International Headquarters is not a privilege reserved for Rotary leadership: any member --Rotarian, Rotaractor, or Interactor-- is welcome to visit and experience this side of Rotary.  In fact, we (your district leadership team) encourage it!
“Headquarters is a wonderful reflection of what we as Rotarians value,” said Steve Wright, District Governor Elect.  “Strong, subdued, proud and with a staff that is wide open to helping – and to receiving input from Rotarians in the world. This visit just continues and strengthens my pride in being a Rotarian.”
Here’s a few takeaways from the Governor Line’s visit with staff:
  • Membership Retention: District 5150’s membership retention rates (for 1-to-2-year members) is above average for Rotary clubs across the world.  Unfortunately, about 10% of new members don’t make it a full year in Rotary.
  • Membership Demographics and Trends: District 5150’s membership is more closely resembles a 50/50 split between men and women, while worldwide membership is only 30% women.  Also, a significant amount of District 5150’s members are over the age of 50.
  • Foundation Giving: Despite all the fantastic achievements in donating to the Annual Fund – which funds projects that support the Seven Areas of Focus, and brings District Designated Funds (DDF) back to our clubs – only 31% of Rotarians worldwide support this fund.  Can you imagine what more we can accomplish in the world with more participation by our members?
  • FREE Resources: There are many resources available for all members at Rotary.org for members to support their clubs and programs. This includes print materials, manuals, videos, graphics, learning modules, and more.
  • Education for prospective members:  Anyone can create a MyRotary account – including non-members – to access the Rotary Learning Center.  While non-members won’t have access to the full catalog that members do, it provides prospective members the opportunity to take courses like Rotary 101, personal development courses, and new Toastmasters-inspired content.
  • New Member Outreach: Rotary International is developing new member onboarding protocols, such as monthly welcome and onboarding letters during their first year as a member with links to online resources.  Plus, outreach includes a new member interest survey and a member assessment tool.
  • Club Assessments:  Clubs looking to take a self-evaluation for the sake of attracting new members and/or ensuring a quality Rotary Club experience now have several tools to help them with this process.  There are several handouts and learning center courses on creating a welcoming environment, conducting new member orientations, taking a diversity assessment, and a prospective member exercise.
  • Brand Awareness: Research shows that Rotary’s worldwide brand awareness has increased 26% since 2015, when it updated it logo and increased public image efforts (including launching the People of Action campaign in 2017). While brand awareness (knowing the Rotary name) has increased, there’s still progress to be made in brand understanding (understanding what Rotary does). 
  • Fix your club website! One of the biggest hurdles in achieving greater brand awareness and understanding is tackling outdated club websites.  RI Public Image staff strongly encourages clubs to find help to get their websites updated and – at minimum – ensure homepages and main pages are (1) acronym free, (2) explains what your clubs does, and (3) explains ways for people to engage with your club (e.g., how to contact, how to attend a meeting, how to join a service project, etc.).  While a club website does provide information to current members, its critical that websites be updated to speak to potential members, too.
  • Data Integration:  Rotary International is continually working on improving systems to assist members and clubs, such as being able to connect DACdb to ClubRunner.  In addition, Rotary International recently released some new updates that allows for greater data syncing between ClubRunner and DaCdb sites and MyRotary.
Of course, you don’t have to trek to Evanston to get help with a club issue or need.  There are plenty of local resources that should be looked to first for an immediate and localized answer, including (a) other club counterparts, (b) your Assistant Governor, (c) the District Leadership Team and committee chairs, (d) the Zone 26/27 Expert Hub, or (e) the Rotary Support Center at 866-976-8279