Posted on Jun 07, 2021
As the number of volunteer organisations rises and competition for member and volunteer resources increases steadily, organisations which rely on members and volunteers are turning their attention to the matter of engagement, asking themselves the question ‘how do we keep our current and future members and volunteers active, involved and satisfied?

Our situation in Rotary is identical. Faced with increasing competition and rising expectations, we must ensure our members are engaged and receiving value from their Rotary membership. Fortunately, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel; the literature on volunteer management provides a host of tips and hints on ways to increase volunteer engagement. Here are seven of the most common as applied to Rotary:
  1. Create a positive first impression – Take time to understand your prospective members’ expectations. When they join your club, provide quality induction and mentoring, make them feel welcome, and check in regularly to see how they are getting on.
  2. Provide meaningful volunteer roles – Find opportunities that enable members to give back using their particular skills and experience. For members still building their careers, find the opportunities that enable them to enhance and strengthen their skillset.
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate – Communicate frequently and effectively with members, using channels that work for them. Make sure communication is a two-way street, proving ample opportunities for club members to communicate directly with club leaders. Keep your decision making transparent and consult widely and frequently. Work on your listening skills.
  4. Make it fun – Even the most dedicated volunteers want to enjoy themselves. Weave fun and friendship into everything you do and include social activities in your calendar. But remember – everyone’s definition of fun is different – so create a social program which is inclusive, appealing to diverse needs and lifestyles.
  5. Recognise and appreciate – Make sure your members know their contribution is valued and appreciated. Grand gestures aren’t necessary; a simple ‘thank you’ will usually suffice. Celebrate members’ contributions - profile them on your website and social media channels, nominate them for community awards and host recognition events within your club.
  6. Show members, volunteers and benefactors what they have achieved – We all want to know our contribution actually makes a difference. Identify opportunities for service in your community that have a measurable impact, invite beneficiaries back to the club to share how Rotary’s service has improved their lives, feature stories of your impact in all your club’s communications.
  7. Let members know they’re part of something big – Connect your members to Rotary beyond the club to help them understand they are part of a global movement. Encourage them to visit other Rotary clubs around the world, attend an international convention, join an international fellowship or action group. Let them know that the possibilities to engage with Rotary are endless.
In short, to Grow Rotary, we need engaged members in member-centric clubs. We need to ensure that all our members feel welcome and involved, and that they are enjoying their Rotary experience. Most importantly, we need to build our clubs around our members, rather than trying to make our members fit our clubs.
– Article By RI Director-Elect Jessie Harman