The first Sisyphus Rotatorial asked the all important question, “What business is Rotary in?” Continuing to chip away at the Mound of Basic Factors, this one asks, “Who is the customer?” The dues Rotarians pay cover club expenses, district expenses, Rotary leaders’ expenses, Rotary International staff salaries, entitlements, and expenses. Rotarians, without doubt, are Rotary International’s primary customers, and they will remain Rotarians only if they find their interactions with Rotary relevant, and the relevancy seed is implanted by local Rotary clubs.
But do local and International Rotary leaders really know their customers? The North American membership trend, Rotary’s Early Warning system, indicates that many do not because clubs are losing market share. One of the major causes could be that Rotary in general has been concentrating on present and future members’ demographic profiles rather than on their universal psychographic characteristics. -- Only by understanding who Rotarians are and what they value will clubs be able to implant relevant seeds in their hearts and minds.
The easiest way for clubs to begin to understand who Rotarians are is to help them develop relationships with one another, or, in simpler language, to talk with one another, to share values. And in case you haven’t figured this one out, this is the first, and perhaps the most important, step in making a distinctive difference in members’ lives – the First Object of Rotary. If members do not develop relationships, they simply will move on, and recent data indicates that universally many, particularly new, regardless of their demographic profile, are doing just that.
Rotary International and its member clubs must know what business they are in and who their customers are. Otherwise, the Mound of Basic Factors will remain unchanged. The next Sisyphus Rotatorial will discuss what Rotarians value.
(Important Note: The Angry Rotarian is trying to crack a smile because RI is beginning to chip away at the Mound of Basic Factors by undergoing a revitalizing initiative. Stage 1 – Research is complete. The 167 page Seigel+Gale Research Findings presentation is available on the right sidebar or at this Rotary Club of Sarasota link. The fundamentals apply to local clubs as well as RI, so Rotarians interested in Rotary’s future should consider taking the time to review Seigel+Gale's findings.)