Growing the Membership and Serving the Community: Example of a Strategic Plan for a Rotary Club

On July 1, at the start of each new Rotary year, new club Presidents elected by the membership of more than 34,000 Rotary clubs worldwide take on the responsibility to lead their club for a year.  New elected leaders are also in place, again for a year, at the level of Rotary Districts and even Rotary International.

Rotary has long called on clubs and districts to adopt strategic plans. This is good practice for any organization, but especially so for an organization with new leaders every year. It is not clear exactly how many clubs adopt such plans, given that many clubs are small and may not feel the need to put a strategy plan down on paper. Yet strategic plans can be helpful, especially when clubs or districts try new innovative approaches to strengthening their membership and achieving a larger impact on their community.

Starting this year, my club – the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill, has adopted a number of important and hopefully innovative changes in the way it will function. The changes range from how many times the club will meet each month to the type of service work it will engage in, and how it will aim to strengthen its membership.

As this may be useful for other clubs, I thought I should share on this blog a strategic note that describes these changes and what the club hopes to achieve in the coming year.  Maybe the note can help other clubs think about their own options.

Please do not hesitate to share feedback on the strategic note of my club available here. You can do so by commenting/leaving a reply to this blog post. Over the year I will report occasionally through the blog on the progress (or lack thereof!) made towards our objectives for the 2016-17 Rotary year.


5 thoughts on “Growing the Membership and Serving the Community: Example of a Strategic Plan for a Rotary Club

  1. While it is excellent to set goals, as was re-enforced in the Zone 21b & 27 Rotary Leadership Institute I attended over the weekend, having a goal is not enough, we must also establish road maps on how you plan to achieve each goal.

  2. The need for a plan is unquestionable. Our 3 year Strategic Plan plan at The Rotary Club of James River Richmond was the start of our club’s complete transformation, Second only to our vision, the plan was the delivery vehicle. Three years has been enough to change our culture. On the way, we have won the District 7600 Governors Cup in two of the last three years and at the same time been top per capita TRF giving club in our district (probably in the top 25 in the world). We have 24 members, a steady growth curve and a great membership bell curve..

    At the core of change, was our new ” Service Centered Leadership” vision which was documented in the form of an organizational chart projected three years down the road – our dream club. The starting point of the Strategic Plan which cascaded down from the vision involved both structural and infrastructural change. It was reflective of the five avenues of service plus public image and education, it is very very important to record that Club Service came first. It was very intense at the start of our new service mission. The other avenues followed as we assembled a team to lead club in a consistent direction, along with our multiple service projects.

    Club Service remains at the core of our success and involves the most numerous and diverse project engagement activity – 32 out of 58 projects. Overall we recorded 90 service day events in 2015-2016.

    The other key strategic decision, the third dimension, was that new members be interviewed before being allowed to join our club. They can either agree to engage with an existing project or projects. or start a new one. We record volunteer activity – around 2100 hours last year from 23 members. No engagement, no can join!

    RI could do a lot more to help with planning instead of leaving clubs to reinvent the wheel against a set of loose guidelines – this involves a whole mountain of duplicated energy. A one page template of a great generic future organizational chart would help along with an example of a related action plan to get a club through its membership growth journey.

    Clubs do not have a membership problem. It is almost invariably a symptom among many others of a dysfunctional club with dysfunctional leadership. They have a leadership problem.

    Perhaps it is also time to again mention that “My Rotary” needs to move with the times and incorporate statistical recording options which include Club Service in Goal Setting along with the other four categories. We need to start recording and measuring volunteer hours as well as donated dollars. We have a nearly complete tool box.

    ………….. and our adult education (=training) needs to be updated to something more consistent with the times. It is presently all very 1980 and juvenile.

    With a slight tweak, the overall purpose of the plan must be ” To Engage Members in Service Activities.”I have substituted “Service” for John Germ’s “Community.”

    A final membership related observation. We recruit mainly from areas connected to the 6 Areas of Focus. Unsurprisingly, Medical and Educational Professionals take a front seat, particularly if they are newly retired. We also need to remember that for the most part, young people under 30 cannot afford Rotary and need to be pointed down the Rotaract/Community Rotaract paths.

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