By David Higgs, president, Rotary Club of Henderson, Texas, USA
When I was asked to serve as president of our local Rotary club, I knew I needed to focus on recruiting new members during my term. Our club was down to about 20 members and far too often we would have less than a dozen at our weekly meeting. So, I took some of the ideas I learned at Presidents-Elect Training Seminars and molded an approach to enlisting new members.
The strategy was simple. I challenged our club to move our annual installation of officer’s banquet to a noon event. I also challenged our club to open the event up to the public. Then, I challenged our members to work together as a club to have 100 people in attendance. Ten professionally printed invitations were given to each member to invite guests. I made it clear members were expected to bring guests. I invited the mayor and other city officials who were happy to attend. Some of our members invited leaders from the school district and County. Almost everyone is up for a free lunch.
Acting in faith, we had the facility set up for 100 people and ordered food accordingly. When the day arrived, I was excited to see that every member brought guests. Our club had never had a meeting with 100 people in attendance. Some members brought one or two guests, others 10 to 12. The excitement was palpable.
During the luncheon, we shared with the guests what Rotary was about and then gave them the opportunity to join. They were given an offer that our club would pay their dues for the first six months. At the appropriate time, we passed out applications and dedicated three minutes for guests to complete the form. I was convinced we could double our club during that 60-minute luncheon. And by the time the luncheon was over, we had 14 new members!
These new members have brought a breath of fresh air to our club. We have had several projects since, where the new members have had a chance to get to know one another better.
The bottom line is, if you put in the effort and encourage club members to get on board 100 percent, you can increase your club size during an installation banquet or some other special event. You can do it!
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