Posted by Corey Lopardi
Almost everyone has heard the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” * It might seem like a reasonable stance to take when things are going well, (and you’re not sure quite why they are) but when it comes to Rotary Membership this stance can often prove disastrous to a club.
When things are going well Rotarians tend to focus on the work of the club. They get busy with meetings and projects and fundraisers and the weekly activities of running the club. Membership is often one of the first things that gets forgotten as the busy Rotary year moves rapidly along. Then one day there aren’t that many people attending meetings, club members find other things to do with their lives, and some clubs even go the way of the Dodo bird. Past Rotary International President Charles G. Tennent alluded to this when he said, “When a tree stops growing — it is ready to die....A Rotary club is like that: It is moving ahead only when it is growing. When the growing ends, the knife-and- fork club begins.” **
 
Growing clubs and membership in Rotary is a bit like growing crops in a field. Each club represents a unique crop of Rotary that will produce great change in it’s community and the world. However, it takes members to make that change happen and just like crops it takes time to grow vibrant Rotary clubs. It could take weeks or months for the seeds of membership to grow into new and engaged members. For this reason it’s important to think of membership as a continual process of planting, tending, harvesting and replanting.  
 
Rotary Clubs are a continually changing thing.  It’s just the nature of the Rotary system that with each year the organization will keep changing and growing into the club that it’s members need. Each year a club will have a new president, new officers, new ideas, and hopefully new members.
 
If clubs don’t plant the seeds of new members, tend to their member’s needs, celebrate the harvest of it’s projects, and replant new members they can struggle to be a vibrant part of Rotary.
 
Corey Lopardi
District 5020 Membership Development Chair
 
* This is widely attributed to T. Bert (Thomas Bertram) Lance, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget in Jimmy Carter's 1977 administration. He was quoted in the newsletter of the US Chamber of Commerce, Nation's Business, May 1977
** Little Lessons in Rotary (Third Edition), March 1978