Mixing social service with social time boosts Rotary's appeal to younger people
Reprinted from Rotary Leader, May 2013
The Young Professionals Campaign is helping Rotary clubs and districts learn the best practices for engaging younger members and sharing Rotary's message with a broader audience. Launched with the help of an anonymous donation, the initiative has targeted several markets in the United States to research and test new ways to interest under-40 professionals.
The campaign encourages Rotary clubs to build relationships by inviting young professionals to a community service or networking event, rather than a weekly meeting. The donation funded several of these, as well as research by outside agencies.
Districts 5950 (Minnesota, USA) and 5960 (parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin) hosted an event, promoted through social media, where volunteers stuffed 500 backpacks with school supplies for two local youth groups. Afterwards, the volunteers - young professionals with no previous connection to Rotary - socialized with Rotarians over food and drink.
Building on the successful turnout, District 5950 Rotarians are budgeting funds for more such service projects geared toward young professionals. They also have hosted a brainstorming session with young Rotarians to learn why they joined, why they have stayed, and how their clubs can become more attractive to their peers.
To promote interest in Rotary clubs and their activities, the campaign emphasized social media and word-of-mouth publicity. Follow-up conversations via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have helped drive awareness and understanding of Rotary and its clubs.
To learn more about the campaign and hear success stories from club members in the pilot markets, attend a workshop at the 2013 RI Convention in Lisbon, 23-26 June.
Pilot program testing biweekly meetings shows higher rate of membership growth
Rotary clubs that participated in a pilot program on meeting frequency showed an overall 90 percent positive impact, with improvement in member retention, membership growth, fundraising and community service, and support for The Rotary Foundation. Pilot clubs also had a higher membership growth rate than the average for Rotary clubs worldwide.