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13 Ways to Kill Your Rotary Club

Updated: Jun 16, 2019

I had the pleasure of hearing Doug Griffiths speak at a leadership conference recently.

Doug is the author of 13 Ways to Kill Your Community (as shown below).

His talk was excellent and it inspired me to think about applying his model to other paradigms.

As a leadership coach. I can see how his content can be easily applied to almost any business or industry.

As a longtime Rotarian, I was inspired to write 13 Way to Kill Your Rotary Club.

This piece uses reverse psychology to encourage Rotarians to keep their clubs interesting and vital, but you can substitute the words "Rotary Club" for almost any kind of entity, such as:

  • Company

  • Chamber of Commerce

  • Condo association

  • Church

  • Other words that start with "C"

Rotary is the #1 service organization in the world.

Let’s keep it that way.

13 Ways to Kill Your Rotary Club

1. Neglect the food. For centuries, people have gathered together around food and drink. Hospitality creates conversation and conversation creates everything from relationships to project lists. Food and the accompanying ceremony is an asset for your Rotary club, not a liability.

2. Don’t attract businesses. Local businesses can help you identify the movers and shakers in your community. These people often make the best Rotarians. Work hard to be appealing when it comes to the length of your meeting, the location and the time/day slot. “Folksy” can work against you.

3. Don’t engage youth. Focus on the young people in your community, even kids too young to join your club. Why? Because parents join Rotary and kids grow up to be Rotarians. Besides, catering to youth is one of Rotary’s five avenues of service. Involving the young is just the right thing to do.

4. Remain convinced that you don’t have to “sell” Rotary. The world is a busy place. People decide where to donate their time based on value propositions. Make sure your club’s “value prop” is undeniable. Hint: Your goal is not to get all your members to agree on the value proposition. Your goal is to make sure that almost everyone feels that time with Rotary feels really good.

5. Let other service clubs do the heavy lifting. Yeah, so a neighboring group has a lock on your community. This should encourage your club! Remember that Rite-Aid always arranges itself at the same intersection as Walgreens. Lowes always builds near Home Depot.

6. Don’t worry about first impressions. Every successful enterprise worries about having curb appeal, a fresh coat of paint and competitive analysis. Constantly monitor what first-time visitors think of your Rotary club. Look for patterns and address the weak spots.

7. Don’t work with other area organizations. Some groups in your area have figured it out. Monitor the local Chamber of Commerce, social groups and other service clubs. Have your Rotary Club hitch it’s wagon to groups with bigger wagons. Engage in cross-promotions and host joint events.

8. Live in the past. Yeah, keep touting past achievements as recent successes. Work so hard at self-aggrandizement that you become delusional about what’s really happening to your formerly great Rotary club. Bring the data, not the drama.

9. Shut out young professionals, people of color and young professionals. A good Rotary club is a mirror of the people in its community. You probably like your club because it’s loaded with people who look like and think like you. But the group will be stronger when you have new faces and fresh talent.

10. Reject new stuff. Push back against change and resist technology by saying things like, “I’m not a technology person.” Stop trying new things and you’ll get what you deserve—a stale and antiquated Rotary club.

11. Ignore outsiders. Discount club visitors’ opinions because “they don’t understand us.” Learn to crave, interpret and deal with all kinds of feedback, especially invaluable comments such as “Your Rotary club is friendly, but not welcoming.”

12. Grow complacent. Apathy is the beginning of the end for your club. Pay attention to early warning signs such as low attendance, sporadic bursts of enthusiasm and STP (Same Ten People) Syndrome.

13. Don’t take responsibility. Some Rotarians keep thinking that someone else will make the changes that need to happen in their club. It’s not a good idea to count on next year’s President to turn things around. Again.

Don’t change everything about your club at once

Think of improving your club like improving your golf swing. Just make a couple small changes at a time and monitor the feedback loops.

If you’re systematic about making changes, you’ll be on track to success within six months or less.

Good luck and let us know about your progress in the comment section below.

Want more good ideas?

Good ideas and innovative strategies are available.

Join the Get the Word Out, Rotary! group on Facebook to get great ideas on how to grow your club, raise more money and help more people.

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