As an AG, I frequently uncovered problems that could be traced back to poor member orientation. As most club leaders appreciate, an effective orientation plan helps member engagement, retention and club effectiveness. However, what is not as easy is to create and implement a truly effective program. What works in one club, might not ‘fly’ in another club due to differences in club culture. Below are some ideas you may wish to explore as you are crafting your approach. Most of these are not original to me, but ideas I’ve picked up along the way. When I’ve remembered where I first heard the idea, I’ve given credit.
- Have a Rotary Trivia contest (1-2 questions) each meeting during the announcements. Perhaps the winner gets a free raffle ticket.
- Conduct Rotary ‘Jeopardy’ at least annually to orient new members and refresh the memories of seasoned members. Thanks @TiffanySErvin! I stole this from her presentation at the RI Convention in Atlanta!
- Provide a short and personalized orientation manual or packet for each new member.
- Have a ‘new member’ section on the club website for basic club information and Rotary links.
- Provide a mentor that helps guide the new member for the first 6 months to a year.
- Actively engage the member in club activities. Give them a job!
- Have a ‘red badge’ system that converts to the normal badge color once a member completes sufficient orientation activities.
- Give the new member a ‘prize’ when they have completed orientation. Perhaps this could be club funds for them to create their own service project. Another idea from the RI convention!
- Encourage the mentor to purposefully introduce new members to a different club member at least twice a month.
- Create a Rotary-focused online and/or in person scavenger hunt.
- Create a ‘passport’ to record orientation activities and have a prize when a certain number of items are ‘stamped’.
- Have a short ‘I am’ speech most meetings, include both new and seasoned members.
- RECOGNIZE the accomplishments of new members with certificates, pins, verbal recognition…
- Make it FUN—one meeting have a baby picture review, and have members tell stories from their childhood. Thanks for the idea Erin Hill, President of the Roxboro Club!
- Keep it SOCIAL—most members join Rotary to offer community service and meet new people. Help them form friendships through social activities: family-style dinners, meetings at a pub or wine bar, a family-friendly picnic, or rotate meetings among member’s homes, etc.
What doesn’t work, or is perhaps outdated for most clubs:
- Pretending you don’t need to integrate new members—DUH!
- PowerPoint presentations.
- Lengthy group classes or ‘fireside chats’.
- A huge orientation manual with all things Rotary.
What is working, or has failed, in your club?