Back in the day Rotary membership was a prized position for business owners in most communities in the United States. Membership was so competitive that Rotary rules limited the number of members from any one industry or profession (Rotary calls them “classifications”) in order to ensure that Rotary club membership included a broad and diversified exposure to the business community. To be a Rotary club president was to be at the very top of the business pyramid, both socially and economically, and only the true titans of industry were awarded the position. Business owners fully understood the value of Rotary membership in terms of prestige, public image, and networking. Perhaps more importantly, it allowed them to be a meaningful part of the solution to many issues and concerns in their local community.
Today things are different. Both Rotary International and business leaders have challenges with public image. Rotary is often lumped together with all of the other “old fashioned” fraternal organizations where the image of community service is somehow linked to wearing the lodge hat of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes last seen in the Flintstones. Business owners wrongly believe that the time commitment required for Rotary membership is inflexible, onerous, and consequently not feasible for busy executives. They don’t understand the value proposition that was so important to previous generations of business owners.
However, business leaders struggle with their own image challenge. In a world of ever increasing income inequality, and where the public perception of “one percenters” is becoming more negative on a daily basis, being a business owner is often lumped in with ugly connotations of being disinterested and disconnected with the local community. The “old fashioned” notion of corporate responsibility to local citizens is being replaced by the perception that businesses only care about shareholder value.
It’s time that Rotary and business reconnect for all the right reasons which, ironically, are the same reasons membership was so popular with businesses years ago.
The Rotary Club of Columbia Patuxent is offering Howard County businesses a new opportunity for corporate membership. The goal is to make membership affordable, flexible, and valuable to a Howard County business that wants to make a positive impact locally and Internationally by serving others in need. For many businesses, the CEO and other top executives will want to add Rotary membership to their resume, for the simple reason that they need to know the needs of the community if they are to serve it well, and because Rotary is the traditional organization to build business networks while doing community service. Since 1905 this recipe of service and networking has been a proven method of growing a business as well as enjoying the personal benefits of serving others.
Another way to take advantage of Rotary membership is to offer it to young professionals in your organization. Rotary provides invaluable opportunities for taking on leadership roles for ambitious young executives. And Rotary membership provides networking opportunities for future business leaders. Young business professionals can also find valuable role models and mentors in the local Rotary club, something that is so valuable that it’s hard to assign it a dollar value. In short, the “perk” of Rotary membership shows your young executives that you care about their business and personal growth.
The secret to our corporate membership is this: up to four members of a local business or other organization can join as full members but three of the four members pay significantly discounted dues of only $150 per year. The business typically pays the dues for Rotary membership. The arrangement works well for our Rotary club as we get to meet four members of a local business and consider them full members of our club. And the arrangement is terrific for a local business in Howard County because:
1) Any of the four members can attend a meeting or all four are welcome, adding temendous flexibility and reducing the time commitment of membership.
2) The price of membership is a fraction of the cost compared to all four executives paying full membership dues.
3) The business is well represented in the community and can participate in projects that they help design if they choose.
4) Executives get to meet and befriend other business leaders in the club, expanding their understanding of community needs and wants.
5) The networking opportunities in Rotary lead to important business contacts that can result in profitable business ventures in the future.
6) There is the personal benefit of knowing that you are helping others who may not have the means to help themselves.
Why not learn more about today’s Rotary? The Rotary Club of Columbia Patuxent meets on Friday mornings at 7:30AM at the Interfaith Center across from Wilde Lake HS. Be our guest for breakfast. Or, feel free to contact Membership Chair, Sandy Harriman, at 301-775-2853 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.