Rotary National Membership Forum

Well, what a great weekend. Exhilarating, exciting, inspiring.

So, some awesome speakers put together a program that led us all through a journey that will help us transform our Rotary Clubs into the 21st Century. And we were rearing to go.

So, what did we learn? Well, we began with the notion that in order to change we had to have an understanding of where our clubs are now. What is the identity of the Club and is that even relevant in today’s rapidly changing society. And guess what? The things that came from the first meeting of Paul Harris and his friends are values that need to continue to guide the practices of Rotary.  What are they- the Four Way Test, and the guiding principles of Honesty, Fairness and Friendship.


However knowing how to define your Club, the direction its taking and the how it’s doing this is important. We need to ask ourselves ‘Where are we trying to go, how are we trying to get there, and are we devising ways of measuring that progress and success’. These are important questions, and if we don’t ask them we will find ourselves in twelve months’ time in exactly the same position, except we will probably have lost a few more members.

What I took from the Membership Forum was that while the core values remain the same, the way in which we practice need to change and evolve. To do that members need to be on board and engaged.

In Henley Beach we’ve already dropped lots of the Rituals. We no longer sing the National Anthem, or say an invocation. We drag out the chains of office once a year, and we could look at the need for this.

We don’t have a gong and we don’t have a fines session.

But what does Henley Rotary look like to the new person arriving for their first meeting? Do we look welcoming and inviting or do we look do boring and off putting.

What about projects?

Are we developing projects that people will want to partner with us?

I think we need to look at developing membership in a different way- rather than getting people to join us for a meeting we should look at having community projects with which we partner with other community groups. We need to have mentoring of potential members by older members and we need to look to local organisations such as schools, kindies or community groups such as surf life clubs or sailing clubs to help us to undertake projects that create these partnerships and enable people to see our Club in action.

Handing over a cheque has a place, but being out there and active is what is going to make younger people want to be part of Henley Rotary. I believe that that right now, out there in our area are a group of people who have a desire to serve others. Today at the Membership Conference having the desire to serve others was called ‘having the Philanthropy Gene!’ We need people who have this gene, not people who just want to attend meetings. People want to do something to give back, and our job is to connect those people with our projects.

If we can do this, then maybe they will start to ask ‘is this a Club I want to be part of?’

Thank you for letting me represent the Rotary Club of Henley Beach at the Membership Conference this weekend. I would suggest that we all try and get to the next one.  In the meantime, I would like to suggest that we have a membership committee and a club who can take a critical look at ourselves, and to start to create a Club which is vibrant and will still be here in another 50 years.

Thank You