Great facilitating. This guy is good at what he does!
— -Dale Carpenter, Director of HR, Manchester University

rebranding rotary

rebranding rotary

Rotary Draft Membership Plan – A Case Study

Westfield Rotary ClubThe Science of Charisma

Train Your team for faster engagement and easier sales


Report by Thaddeus Rex & John Salladay

ROTARY - Fostering a Network of Cooperation for Serving through Leadership


With help from the Science of Charisma process, the Portland Rotary Club has achieved the highest per capita membership in Indiana at 1% of the population.

While the city’s population shrank two percent, the club grew from 33 to 65 members. To put that in perspective, 1% per capita membership would put Carmel, Indiana’s club at 856 members.

The Westfield Rotary Club recently went through the same Science of Charisma process Portland deployed. Here is a report of those efforts.


Our Objective

We will double the size of our membership over the next thirty-six months to enhance the fulfillment of our Mission while retaining the strong relational qualities of the Club.

The Problem (see attached Competitive Analysis)

Competitive Analysis revealed “service” is a non-differentiating brand. Even small towns are likely to have many opportunities for service (Kiwanis, United Way, Lions Club, Salvation Army, many churches, PTO, Youth Service Bureau, etc…). By focusing on “service” as a brand, we look just like everybody else. Prospects have no compelling reason to seek membership in Rotary.

Market Research (see attached Market Research) reveals new members in Rotary (members 4 yrs or less) and prospects do not highly prioritize service. They join and stay in Rotary for networking and professional development.


But! After 5 years in Rotary, service emerges as a major priority. The opportunity to serve becomes the #1 reason members stay in the club. So Rotary cannot differentiate itself, nor easily attract and retain new members if “service” is the only reason to join.

But Rotary has the power to convert. What Rotary does that United Way, Salvation Army, PTO, Churches and other service organizations can’t is to change the way people think about service. Our data reveals if you can recruit and retain a new member for at least 5 years, “Service” becomes a major priority in their life. This is a special function Rotary provides the community and the entire world, but it only works if we continue to recruit and retain members effectively. 

Overall Approach

Plan for new members by actively and effectively crafting a Vision for the club which engages prospects, new and long time members while being true to Rotary’s history and ethos.

Attract new members by communicating the Vision succinctly and consistently, showing them how they can benefit, and backing it up with a solid recruitment plan.

Retain new members by clarifying the “Elevator Pitch” so incoming new members arrive with expectations that are quickly fulfilled by the club. Then implement new strategies to make meetings more fun, mentoring more common, and service projects more engaging while keeping everyone focused on building relationships.

Unique Value Proposition (created by Thaddeus Rex, Inc. via their Science of Charisma process)

Rotary is . . .

       A Leadership Network - Serving our Neighbors as Ourselves

Our Club’s Vision

       To Serve Our Neighbors as Ourselves

Our Club’s Mission

        Fostering a Network of Cooperation for Serving through Leadership 

Our Elevator Pitch

·      Rotary provides an opportunity to build your network. It's not about getting sales next month. It's about building relationships. It will help your business (or career or church), but it takes time.

·      If the typical networking meeting is a roaring fire, Rotary is the glowing embers sitting underneath that last all night. It’s stronger. More powerful. But it takes longer to build too.

·      Talk about specific projects and connections interesting to the person

·      Mention long-term benefits to them, their business, their career – we all want to know “how this will help me accomplish more.”



Rotary Draft Membership Plan

Westfield Rotary ClubThe Science of Charisma

Train Your team for faster engagement and easier sales

PART 2: Tactical Planning

(once the Vision, Mission and strategy are clear)

Report by Thaddeus Rex and John Salladay

ROTARY - Fostering a Network of Cooperation for Serving through Leadership


We will establish an active outreach effort for attracting potential members.

·      First we will identify organizations, i.e., business, non-profit, government, others, that may find involvement in our club beneficial

·      Ask members for pre-existing relationships in those organizations

o   Do this as a monthly activity, not a big upfront push

o   We will periodically ask our members for such organizations and contacts, i.e., as an ongoing activity rather than a big upfront push.

·      Make contact with those individuals to introduce the club and invite to specific meetings and/or social events

o   Committee members

o   Board members

o   Others

o   6-10 contacts per month

·      Maintain a data base of contacts and status

·      Goals

o   50 contacts 20 new members by Jan 1, 2016

o   Average 6 visits of qualified applicants per month, 3 new members

o   One special guest day meeting per quarter

o   One social event per quarter

Communication Tools

Develop communication tools for introducing our club and its Mission – June, 2015

·      Invitation cards, i.e., business card size with our Mission and space for the date and time of an upcoming meeting or event, web address

·      Post card size handout on our club including a concise list of projects, possibly with application on second side

o   Open Doors

o   New non-cognitive skills initiative

o   Scholarships

o   Interact Club

o   Others.

Assure that our club website has parallel information in user friendly form

Making “Connections”

Coach our members who invite someone to take responsibility for

·      Understanding the type of people we would like to attract, e.g., character, how their professional activity and connections enhance the club

·      Understanding the person’s interests and letting the person know how our club could help him or her

·      Introducing the person to someone in the club who fits those interests

o   Get multiple points of contact

·      Consider aAsking another club member to follow up with a guestcontact to show our club’s interest in that person

·      Getting individuals a membership packet as appropriate

o   Asking if the person “would like to be considered for membership”

o   Show them what a “privilege” it is

§  People love to join the “inside club”

§  People don’t like begging them to join

Time Line

Related Issues for the Board

Committee Structure

The Board has already endorsed increased social activity, e.g., one major social event per quarter. The Membership Plan calls for inviting guests to quarterly guest day meetings and quarterly guest day events in addition to regular club meetings. Current Board structure has one Board member responsible for Membership, Speakers and Social. Perhaps consider a different focal point for each of these responsibilities.

Engaging New Members

Set expectations for new members around relationship building and long-term growth, not short term leads generation.

Consider assigning a “mentor” for each new member, i.e., someone whom the new member can call anytime to ask questions, whom will encourage the new member’s engagement in the club.

Mentor encourages new member participation in service and fund raising projects. Without a project, we have no reason to work together, to build our own relationships and without those relationships, the service cannot get done.  By focusing on using the club to build members' networks, the more we help our members, the more they are able and motivated to help the club and those we serve.

New Member Projects Budget

Consider a “new member projects budget” of e.g., $1000 per year and a new member team. Every six months, the club gathers the new members from that period and asks them to choose a chair. Use their $500 budget and ask them to figure out what they would like to do with it. OK for them to explore new options or to connect with other ongoing club committees or efforts. Review with the Board for funds release for their plan.

This approach motivates new members to get involved quickly, e.g., meeting as a group, attending a couple of Board meetings, connecting to other committee chairs on various projects.

  (c) 2015 Thaddeus Rex, Inc. with T. Rex & John Salladay
Strategic Plan and report by Thaddeus Rex w/ T. Rex & J. Salladay

Published with Permission - All Rights Reserved


Rotary Draft Membership Plan

Competitive Analysis

Westfield Rotary ClubThe Science of Charisma

for faster engagement and easier sales


A key facet of Charisma is that split second first impression. Is it instantly compelling?


Imagine your organization as a pop-bottle. The label as your brand. Rotary would look like this:

The label helps us know what to expect when we open the bottle. Because we revolve around service, our label actually looks like this:

Because Rotary has competitors, to potential members, our bottle looks like this:

But these competitors are also known for service (along with PTO, PTA, churches, etc…). So in the potential member’s mind, our brand looks like this:

Inside these bottles, each organization is completely different. Working with Rotary is completely different than working with United Way or the Youth Service Bureau. However, from the outside we all look the same.

Because people shop quickly, research shows they make their decision in less than 2 seconds, it’s impossible to differentiate ourselves by talking only about service.

In Portland, we realized another strength of Rotary is it’s history of attracting community leaders. By highlighting this more unique aspect of our club, we instantly stood out and were able to build more support for our service projects.

Our mission is to “Foster a Network of Cooperation for Serving thru Leadership.”

 No one in town can accomplish this mission better than Rotary.

The more relationships we build, the more projects we can do. The projects then strengthen the depth of these relationships, offering more opportunity to us all. This powerful symbiotic relationship is what Rotary does best!



Rotary Draft Membership Plan

Market Research

Westfield Rotary ClubThe Science of Charisma

for faster engagement and easier sales


THE DATA: From a 2010 survey completed by 4,819 Rotarians across zones 33 & 34 (North America).

When asked “Why are you a Rotarian”. Here are the results.


THOSE IN ROTARY 5 YEARS OR LESS – why are they in the club:

1.     Networking (biggest priority)

2.     Professional Development (a close runner up)

3.     Service (a distant 3rd)

THOSE IN ROTARY 6 YEARS OR MORE – the answers evolve

1.     Service (off the charts! biggest priority)

2.     Maintain Friendships


1.     Maintain Friendships

2.     Service to Community

3.     World Peace


1.     Rotary has the power to change one’s values.

a.    The longer they’re in Rotary, the more they adopt ‘Community Service’ and ‘World Peace’ as major personal goals. (Amazing!)

b.    But it only happens after a member is recruited, then engaged 6 years or more

2.     By branding ourselves exclusively on ‘Service’

a.    Appeals most to those already in the club more than 5 years

b.    Appeals less to new members and prospects

c.     Makes it more difficult to attract and engage new potential members to the cause – and we lose many opportunities to help change that potential member’s core values


Using Service as our brand actually makes it more difficult to build growth and support for our Service Projects.



We can’t brand ourselves a ‘Networking’ org. Typical networking activities like handing out business cards or self-promotion at meetings are discouraged. Also, attracting too many ‘networkers’ will tend to drive out the top corporate leaders and most able philanthropists, who would rather avoid another sales pitch.


Professional development is not a compelling value proposition. Offering a prospect professional development holds a veiled judgement, implying “I believe you need some help, because you aren’t good enough yet”. This judgmental attitude is exactly opposite of the Rotary image we seek to build. 


Here is an abridgment of our club’s facilitated brainstorming:

Here are a few reasons WHY Rotary is important. You can also see WHAT we do and HOW we do it.

While we aren’t a ‘Networking Group’. We are an ‘Effective Network’, made up of community leaders.

We sought language to help prospects see this unique value. They’ll gain access to a valuable network of community leaders around the globe? No other organization in town can do this better!

It’s also critical prospects understand Service is the core of Rotary. It’s only by giving yourself to service that you can gain access to this valuable network. And the better you build your network, the more ability you have to contribute back to the cause in return.

(c) 2015 Thaddeus Rex, Inc. with T. Rex & John Salladay
Strategic Plan and report by Thaddeus Rex w/ T. Rex & J. Salladay

Published with Permission - All Rights Reserved