Summer seems to be flying by because suddenly, it’s August!
I have started club visits, and this is one of the most rewarding opportunities I have experienced. It has been such a pleasure meeting “new to me” Rotarians and learning what makes your clubs special. When I get the chance to visit everyone, I know this will make me a better person and better able to represent you in the future.
While many of us are thinking of ways to beat the heat and stay cool, many Rotarians are thinking about membership because August is Membership Month in the Rotary year.
I have heard from several of you that you feel Rotary is too focused on attracting new members, starting new clubs, and finding new ways to engage potential new Rotarians. “What about those of us who have been members for years, Ralph?” Someone asked me that question last month at a club installation event. It was a good opportunity for me to think and the answer is one I want to share with all of you.
In listening to people, I learned that somehow the message to find new members got more attention than the importance of caring for and cultivating our current members. At least, I’m guessing some people in our District heard the “membership message” and never thought it applied to our current members who already “get the message.”
At the Rotary International Convention in Houston, RI President Jennifer Jones told us, “If we want responsible members, we have to give them responsibilities.” Do we as Rotarians ask our fellow club members what they want from their Rotary experience? Do we offer them the opportunity to take on a new responsibility? Do we mentor them as they learn about all the learning and professional development, they have access to through Rotary? Or do we just count them as another checkmark on a membership recruitment drive? 
I hope you will engage your fellow club members in some thoughtful discussions this month about membership. But as you plan ways to engage new members, please take time to reflect honestly about your current members and their participation in your club. After all, it doesn’t matter how many new members we bring to our Rotary family if we can’t keep our current members meaningfully engaged.
To help guide your club’s membership discussion, we are encouraging all clubs to watch the Multi-District Membership Monday video How Can We Strengthen Club Leadership? This video features Rotary leaders in short (2-3 minute) video clips offering tips about building strong leaders. After all, strong leaders are one of the keys to a vibrant club. And a vibrant club is attractive to both new and current members. 

So please, invite new members into your clubs. Just don’t forget to care and invest in the members you already have. 

Yours in Service,
Ralph Brandt DG 2022 – 2023