Growing the membership at Sun Lakes Rotary

Charles Loew

Charles Loew

Norm Noble

The Sun Lakes Rotary Club is a different kind of club. Well, don’t take me wrong. Different can mean several things – like dissimilar, poles apart, distinctive, diverse and so on. In this case, the Sun Lakes Rotary Club is different because it’s unusual. How so, you ask? Start off by identifying its location. It’s in Sun Lakes. Sun Lakes is a retirement community. Most of the residents of Sun Lakes are retired; as in not working in paid positions, on the upper end of the age scale, etc. The average age of Sun Lakes club members is 77. Can you see a challenge in growing club membership? Can you see a problem in maintaining membership?

I don’t know the average age of Rotarians in the USA, but if I were to guess, it would be somewhere in the 50s. These are upwardly mobile adults who recognize the need and privilege of serving others. As their lives change, there is an ebb and flow of members – with some leaving, some joining. Death and severe illness are not typically the reasons for the recession. But if a club derives most of its members from a retirement community, that is a major reason for decline.

Every Rotary club has the challenge of growing. As it is frequently pointed out, membership is every Rotarian’s business. Membership is too important to be delegated to just one or two Rotarians in a club or even a small committee. Yet sadly, that is frequently the situation. Being the Membership Chair can be a lonely, lonely job.

Almost four years ago, Charles Loew joined the Sun Lakes Rotary Club. We were not decaying as a club, but we weren’t in a growth pattern, either. Let’s just say we were hanging on. Charles almost immediately stepped into the gap, taking over the usually thankless job. And he shifted the responsibility of gaining new members from a committee to the entire club. He placed expectations upon everyone to bring at least four visitors to our meetings throughout the year. And in the process, growth has been occurring. Case in point, three new members were installed in July 2015, a time when attendance at our club is extremely low.

At each weekly meeting, there are reminders of the need for growth. Club brochures are placed on each table with the suggestion that they be taken and shared with friends. “The selling point for Rotary is YOU,” he says, “not Rotary. If you are sold, it’s an easy task to tell prospective members why you are a Rotarian.”

Charles has taken on this task because of years as both an executive and business process consultant. He knows what it takes to be efficient and successful. He is a strategic planner. And as he also adds, “It’s all about results.”

The results, at Sun Lakes Rotary Club has been growth. We are currently at 83 members with prospects at the ready.