By Richard Cunningham, PP Rotary Club of James River, Richmond, Virginia, USA

I would venture most Rotarians understand the advantages of compound interest. But I wonder if we give much thought to the compounding effects of a rate of decline.

This time last year, there were 332,370 Rotary members in the USA. The year before that it was 341,515. That is a loss of 9,145 members or 2.7%.  How much worse would it have been without the nearly 96,000 (28.8%) members who are women?

Assuming an attrition rate at near 3% between now and the end of this decade we will break below 300,000 members by 2020.  Without change, by 2025, membership will be less than 250,000.

The outlook for my Rotary District 7600, one of the better performers, may for the first time, exceed an annual rate of loss of 2% or greater.

New Vision and Strategic Plan is Needed

The question I keep asking myself is, “At what point will RI be so shaken with the decline they will decide a new vision and strategic plan are needed to reverse this alarming trend?”

In Virginia grassroots, Rotarians are concerned because the change strategies which many believe are appropriate and necessary do not seem to be a priority for our leaders.

Many in my club think RI’s adult education and strategic input are key change areas to target. Sharing how to write a 3-5 year Strategic Plan is not enough. We need content suggestions and priorities and even a template.

Yes, each club decides its own Strategic Plan but that should not prevent Rotary International from sharing exemplary goals, objectives and action plans or from making recommendations for consideration. Such assistance might help many of the 7,690 clubs in the USA determine where to start when developing a Strategic Action Plan.

My own model includes such Key Result Areas as:

  • Human Resources ( = leadership / volunteers)
  • Marketing (=Service Above Self-values and projects)
  • Technology (=speed and efficiency).

In conclusion, if we are to have a membership of 400,000 Americans by 2025 we need a Vision and a Plan on how we are going to achieve that goal.

An Addendum

  1. a) If we work on Service Volunteer Hours Goal Setting and recording at My Rotary, RI needs to improve the speed of its server.  I can go take lunch in the time it takes to save an update.
  1. b) Our future leadership is drawn from those who engage in Club Service which in turn determines engagement in all other areas plus Education and Public Image.
  1. c) RI needs to make provision at My Rotary to record and measure Club Service hours and goals. Currently, no such provision exists.
  1. d) Recognition is an important part of cultivating a sense of belonging. Club Service is central to the recovery process.