The issue of membership is a perennial one and we continue to lose members more quickly than we can attract new members. This is of course not peculiar to our club. 
From my perspective there are a number of contributing factors:
  • While younger people get involved in individual causes and projects, they seem much less likely or willing to join service clubs. Rotary has in fact held up quite well in terms of membership compared to organisations such as Lions, Kiwanis and Jaycees. 
  • Rotary was seen as a somewhat elite organisation which along with the good work it did also generated business contacts and encouraged business networking. That type of networking is now done differently and is therefore less likely to be a reason why people might become members. That notion of being something of an elite organisation may also be part of the public perception of the organisation.  
  • Families are now much more likely to involve two fully employed adults and a regular meeting along with other commitments makes being an active member more difficult. 
  • Clubs have struggled to move with the times and the age, gender and cultural profile of many clubs does not reflect that of the wider population. We are of course all lovely people but it’s hard to see how we might be an attractive club for younger people and especially younger women. 
  • The structure of the organisation places a significant weighting on the regular meeting. That is often not what those people who want to roll up their sleeves and get involved in a project or cause are looking for. That is the ratio of meeting to actual action may not fit the needs of at least some. 
  • Meetings are still relatively formal and are less likely to mirror the type of meetings many prospective members now engage in. 
Over the years we have tried a variety of approaches and we have individual members who have been very active and innovative in trying to attract new members. .
One very obvious trend is that very few of us [my self included] have our own children as members. Why not? The reason for asking the question is twofold. Firstly, what are the barriers to membership? Once we know those perhaps it will inform our next step. Secondly, and a more sobering outcome might be the response that shows increasing membership by any approach will be difficult. Finally there are past members who have gone on to become really active in other organisations,  and it would be instructive to know why they have made that transition. 
There is another aspect to membership and that involves retaining, in some capacity, as many members as we can. Is there any way in which people can retain an association with the club without being full members?  Alternatively, would it be possible to have some form of  “non-member active”, which are people who have never been members but who will support us in some capacity? That might include working bees, supporting an activity such as the Carnival, Top Schools or the Quiz night.  This would mean that while actual membership remains low our capacity to do work in the community would be increased. 
If what we have been doing has not had the desired effect then it makes sense to look at what other things we could do. In my view, addressing the situation requires the best ideas from across the club so your thoughts are sought. Let Alison or your committee chair know hat you think. Alternatively write a piece for the Bulletin that we can share with all members.