Table Speech

Views on Membership Development

August 25th,2004

Past President of this Club
Assistant Governor in 2002-03

 Needless to say Rotary Clubs are a service organization, and the 4 Avenues of Service provide us with the framework for our activities. I believe that among the 4, Vocational Service is at the root of Rotary service.

 How to pursue this ideal during our busy daily activities is a more difficult matter than just thinking can do, and I have concluded that a good balance must be struck between a club’s size and its members quality. Therefore, just an increase in sheer numbers is not sufficient.
 A 100 years have passed since 4 young men gathered in Chicago with Paul Harris taking the lead to discuss vocational ethics in the midst of the demoralizing economic scene in Chicago at that time.

 Thus today Rotary has grown to 1.21 million members in 166 countries.
Rotary has continued to serve society by stressing the ethics of business and vocations and the need for managerial self-discipline.

 President Richard D. King of RI in 2001-02 gave an address at the
International Assembly for his year’s District Governors from which I quote – “All Rotarians are successful people in their various vocations or businesses and are responsible for their personal and public lives. They are the persons who set targets. When we invite such persons to become members, perhaps we are setting our sights too low. Therefore, I would like to suggest the following for membership development.

 1. It is the privilege and responsibility for each Rotarian to sponsor a new member. 2. The qualities I look for in such a person is that of the mind, and not merely wealth or position. 3. In our quest for such a person, we must look for such qualities, and not find a person to fill a vacant classification. 4. To quote Paul Harris ー “If we wish to continue Rotary in the next century, we must make Rotary appeal to our younger generation”. 5. Every year, we must not fail to emphasize membership development and support for the Rotary Foundation. 6. Ever since Paul Harris founded Rotary, there would have been no Rotarians unless some one persuaded another to become a Rotarian.

 Our dream of serving mankind in the 21st century will come to nothing unless our Rotary leaders challenge and emphasize the above 6 points.
However, reality did not accord with this statement as membership declined to less than 1.2 million, and in August 2001 a Special President’s message was delivered.

 In it he allowed make-up periods to be extended from a week to 2 weeks, made attending a committee meeting for 10 or 20 minutes eligible for make-up, made all members active, with each club obtaining one new member a month.

 However, all these seem to be perfunctory to me. Attention must the given to fundamentals, such as why the decrease is taking place. However, as a result membership increased to 1.24 million according to the RI News of July, 2002, but this increase was mainly in the Indian sub continent, and the Far East.
The decline has not been stopped in Japan, the U.S. or Europe. For Japan, our number of members was at its peak in 1996-97 131,000 which decreased to 103,319 in June this year.

 I believe that the main issue is that Rotary has not kept in step with changing times. Since our Tokyo Rotary Club was born as the first in Japan, we have sponsored directly 6 clubs and now have 21 third generation clubs in 2 districts. At our peak in 1993 we had 384 members, but today with 334 we are still the largest club in Japan, and we are engaged in active service. This may make you feel that there is no need for increasing our members, but allow me to give you my thoughts on the matter.

 The world we live in has changed rapidly into a super-information society. IT (Information Technology), BT (Bio Technology) and Nanotechnology are thriving, and a great change is taking place in our social structure.

 Another great change is the change from a men’s society into one in which both sexes are equal. The other day, our President spoke to us and said that Japan sent 312 athletes to the Olympic Games, of which females were 171 and males 141 in number.

 Rotary cannot aloof from this change. Our members well understand this and there are many things which must be done to accommodate this change.

 Membership development means finding a person suitable for membership and not just filling a vacant classification. If we are bound too strictly by rules and regulations, quality must suffer. It will become difficult to attain our ideals of service and our meetings will become just a friendly luncheon.

 On the other hand, classifications are important too, so we must keep revising them in order to keep in step with our changing social pattern.

 Fortunately, our membership today is the envy of other clubs, and we have been able to continue our service activities. Although we are near to the maximum number of members for a club to engage cohesively in service projects, we maintain a good balance between numbers and quality.

 Our aims should be to increase our members accordingly while making efforts for retention of current members. This must be done consciously by making our meetings enjoyable and significant.

 If we are able to have attractive guest speakers with interesting topics, it will serve to keep members as well as attract new ones.

 We also have a number of club activities in which family members are involved such as our World Understanding Ladies’ Day in February, Rotary Anniversary meeting in March, the Dogwood Blossom Viewing in April, our Tokyo Club Anniversary meeting in October, and our Traditional Christmas Family Party.

  With the family getting involved with Rotary, it will serve as a force of retention among members.

 Our average age is slowly decreasing as we obtain younger members. With them becoming a driving force in our club, it will certainly activate our club.
This year, we have a target of increasing 3 new members, and we would appreciate your cooperation in this effort.

 Our members are fully active in the 4 Avenues of Service and this will certainly cultivate our Tokyo Club members as Rotarians.