Posted by Sean Paddy on Aug 01, 2018
Rotary, like any business, has customers. For us, those customers are our members and we must provide value to assure satisfied customers. The key to attracting and retaining young professional “customers” is presenting a Value Proposition that is attractive.
Pitching Rotary To Young Professionals
Most would agree that Rotary has struggled to attract and retain young professionals. A good first step in identifying the issues with this is to gather data. In 2016, a simple survey of questions was put together in District 6930 and designed to get at the core of what brought young members into Rotary, why they stay, what they want, and what the challenges are for them. The gist of the survey focused on the following:
  • Age, Club, Profession, Number of Years In Rotary
  • How were you first introduced to Rotary? 
  • Were you active in or considering other civic or charitable organizations at the time you joined Rotary? If so, which?
  • Are you currently active in other civic or charitable organizations? If so, which?
  • What was it about Rotary that drew you in and caused you to join?
  • Would you consider yourself active in your club? Have you joined  any committees or taken any leadership roles?
  • If so, which ones and why those?
  • If asked by a friend or acquaintance, “What is Rotary” do you have  a brief elevator pitch you use? If so, what is it?
  • What is Rotary’s Value Proposition for you, personally and/or  professionally, that keeps you involved given the financial and  time commitment required?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years, with regard to your Rotary  Club?
  • What could your Club/District do more or less of to make Rotary  more appealing to young professionals like yourself?
Based on scores of survey submissions, certain trends in the district became apparent:
  1. Younger members were drawn to Rotary through a friend or business contact
  2. They value networking for personal but primarily business purposes
  3. Many are interested in developing relationships with community leaders, those who could offer guidance or mentorship
  4. Some identified time and financial commitments as ongoing hurdles
  5. Only about half identified service as an initial motivation for joining, but to most it is clearly an important factor
While surveys can help put an issue into context, how can clubs turn this into a strategy for young professionals and membership development?

Essentially, it comes down to putting together a Value Proposition that can effectively pitch Rotary to the young professionals in any community.

This pitch inevitably precipitates into one idea, Leadership. Rotary is a unique environment wherein young professionals can learn, practice, and exhibit leadership skills. This is an immeasurable benefit for one’s personal and professional development. Their values can be made clear; they learn to work with others and pay it forward.
Developing An Attractive Value Proposition
In most countries and communities, young professionals are looking for networking and mentorship, but have concerns about time, money, and family commitments. Fortunately, Rotary has considerable value to offer in all of those areas.
  • Networking: Many young professionals are looking for business, and that’s OK. People do business with those they know, like, and trust. Rotary can help there, as long as expectations are set from the beginning.
  • Leadership: Through Rotary, young professionals are able to establish themselves as leaders in the community. Their values can be made clear; they give back, and learn to work with others. “Come, join us, be a leader.” This is a strong value proposition for the young professional.
  • Mentorship: Many of our young professionals are also interested in working with current community leaders and in being mentored. How many of your club members could provide this value?
  • Time & Money: Clubs have increasing flexibility to address the time and money issue in ways they see fit, ways that are adapted to their unique communities and challenges. Some examples include corporate memberships, and “Rule of 35” memberships which allow members under the age of 35 to pay a reduced rate that just covers dues to RI and the meals they attend.
  • Family Commitments: Family is important, and there may be no better place for a young professional to spend quality time with their family, while teaching kids valuable life lessons in service. We say, families welcome!

Once we have identified the value our clubs have, the key is to get that message out. Again, like any business, we need to develop a coordinated marketing plan to “sell” our clubs to young professionals in the community. A Young Professionals Committee may be a good start for clubs to consider.

Check out Rotary International’s Engaging Younger Professionals — a new online toolkit that helps clubs better understand younger professionals. From ideas for outreach and engagement to long-term benefits of becoming a Rotarian, this toolkit helps clubs rethink their membership, from a broad perspective down to a tactical level.
Extracted From An Article By
Michael Walstrom - President of the Rotary Club of Downtown Boca Raton, Florida