Jenny Stotts joined Rotary in 2013 and became more andmore involved in her club and its service projects. But over thethree years that followed, the club’s culture became toxic andunproductive, which eventually prompted Stotts, and severalothers, to leave.
Not wanting to give up on Rotary, Stotts began meeting once aweek with some of the club’s other former members in a coffeeshop at the same time that their old club met. The new groupgrew quickly, and it chartered its own club with 26 members in
2016. The Rotary Club of Athens Sunrise, Ohio, USA, which nowhas nearly 80 members, rejects attendance expectations, unwrittenrules, and the judging of members based on their contributions.
Instead, it focuses on getting members more involved inhands-on community service. During Stotts’ year as clubpresident, 100 percent of club members were engaged inservice. She says this is the fact she’s proudest of.
Why engaging members through service is the key
to a great club
Stotts, now assistant governor and membership chair for District6690, says her experience at her old club, though not pleasant,taught her valuable lessons. She spoke about them to incomingRotary leaders at the International Assembly in January. (Watchthe full video of her talk above.)
“I wholeheartedly believe that we don’t grow Rotary sustainablythrough quick promotions, extra happy hours, or other gimmicks,but rather through building up the experience and engagementof the members we already have,” Stotts says. “Engaged,happy members become our best tool for recruitment andsustainability.”