August in Rotary is known as Membership and New Club Development Month, but do you know why we focus on membership? Membership is essential to every aspect of a Rotary club. As a matter of fact, Rotary International won’t even allow you to start a new Rotary club without 20 people who are interested in joining and upholding Rotary’s ideals and values.

Nothing in a club gets done without its members. Rotary members... the club meetings, hold club offices, and chair club committees. Rotary members contribute to The Rotary Foundation, become Paul Harris Fellows, and leave part of their estate to Rotary as Benefactors. Rotary members lead community service projects, sell duck dash tickets, and setup for nighttime Glow in the Dark 5K runs. Heck, a Rotary member even wrote this article you’re reading right now, and you’re probably thinking - “Yeah, I get the point. Everything we do in Rotary is because we are members. Get on with it.”

Well, I would say that Rotary members are as important to Rotary clubs as oxygen is to the human body. An essential component needed for survival. And just like with breathing oxygen, we often forget that our body has to keep taking in new oxygen constantly to survive. With our body’s it’s automatic, there’s a system that takes in oxygen and exhales it without us even having to think about it. Wouldn’t it be great if our Rotary clubs had a similar system for Membership? One that was always working so well we didn’t even have to think about it…

Having an active Membership Committee with a strong Membership Chair and other committee members is a good start to that system. Another important component is a realistic membership plan for sustained membership attraction, retention, and engagement. The final component of that system is making membership practices so routine that the process doesn’t even feel like work.

Why do we focus on membership? We focus on membership so that we can make new friends. We focus on membership so that we can make a bigger difference in our communities. We focus on membership so that our legacy is not one of an unchanging organization that once did great things, but one that overcame great obstacles to eradicate Polio and “create lasting change across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.”

Corey Lopardi is the Rotary District 5020 Membership Development Chair