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The Meaning of Membership

May 1, 2014

As the speaker at a recent district assembly recalled his first experience with Rotary, he momentarily swelled with emotion. "I almost teared up", he said. "But that's how I want to live my life, a moment away from a tear." It was an appropriate beginning to his discussion of membership. When talking to a prospective member it is natural to speak of the many beneficial things Rotary does, such as the effort to end polio or the many scholarships awarded by Rotary. Of course these efforts are central to Rotary and should be part of what attracts members.

However, when speaking with a prospective member one should also think of those things that drew them to Rotary in the first place. Further, for the many long-time members of Rotary, what is it that keeps them returning year after year? The speaker had discovered that he wanted to be part of Rotary after being invited to speak at a meeting. As he attended a meeting for the first time, like many of us, he found that he was not only attracted by what Rotary does. It was the fellowship of working with a group of like-minded individuals to achieve a greater benefit that excited his passions. He found a group who believed in service above self and working together for a greater good, and he realized that he wanted to be part of it. Those things which we feel most passionate about are the most important that we can convey. A salesman doesn't only sell a product, in some respects they are selling themselves. Similarly, the individual passion each member of Rotary feels for Rotary's mission and fellowship may be the best "sell" to a prospective member.

So when somebody asks you what Rotary is, perhaps these are the questions that can help prepare you to answer: What comes to your mind when you think of Rotary? Why do keep coming back, year after year? What part of Rotary, when you reflect upon it, brings you a moment away from a tear?

Author: Mike Nigro

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