This year, while we are all focused on recruiting new members, we also need to focus on helping our new members feel welcome. When new people join your club, we have a real opportunity to connect and inspire, encouraging active members. Research tells us that engaging our new members is the key to retention, helping new Rotarians feel appreciated and welcome. Here a few things to increase a sense of inclusion:
- Make New Member Inductions Special
Induction is the perfect time to make new Rotarians feel special about their decision to join Rotary. Whether induction is in person or virtual, we can celebrate in exceptional ways. Invite families and/or co-workers to be there. Provide a framed membership certificate that inductees can display in their office, a Rotary pin that they can wear with pride, and of course, an official nametag so other members can greet them by name. Many clubs also give new members a gift bag with such things as a Rotary mug, a Rotary shirt, and/or some unique items from local businesses of Rotary club members.
- Assign a Mentor
In my opinion, assigning a mentor is the most important part of making a new member feel welcome over time. Choose someone who shares something in common with the new member and who is commited to spending some quality time in mentorship. I know of one club that gives new members a gift certificate to a local coffee shop, so they can meet with their mentors over a cup of coffee.
- Develop a New Member Orientation Program
Be creative when designing an orientation program for new members. Orientation programs might include an activity that is somewhat formal, like a presentation (virtual or in-person), or pehaps something more informal, such as a fireside, where Rotarians are asked to share their Rotary story and a new member gets to socialize. This is the perfect time to explain the benefits of membership and what is special about your club.