The best story of  recruitment success  that I can recall  was the result of promotion by the leader of our Keilor Rotary Wine Appreciation events in 2018 and 2019., His name is Stan Gawel and it gave Balwyn Rotary Club the option of showing the District how it can be  done better . In July 2014 the Club had 46 members after eight retired during the year; then at the end September 2015, it grew to 72 members.
By July 2016, it was targeting 100 members. And this target is not vapour-ware --- the club has a pipeline already of a dozen or more potential members.
President Anthea Rutter says the success is due to this Membership Development Director Stan Gawel, but Stan says he’s got plenty of great helpers. [PHOTO: Stan with a barra he caught near Darwin — these days he fishes for Rotary recruits]. Stan had been with Balwyn RC for only 18 months: “One of my friends in a mutual organisation invited me,” he says.
His business is the tough game of wine wholesaling, and before that, retail banking around the State. “Getting members is a sales exercise and the Rotary Club is your product,” he says. “Get off your chair, target suitable people and make the sale face-to-face. Everyone says it’s difficult but I just say, ‘Have you ever asked anyone?’”
To illustrate the importance of face-to-face, he tells how the club in August divided the suburb into four zones and letter-boxed them with 3000 flyers. The number of inquiries: zero.
They also put up a recruiting booth at the Camberwell Sunday Market on three occasions to see what response we could achieve. No recruits resulted but he believes it promoted Rotary generally and could have gained recruits to other clubs.
“Most Rotarians are uncomfortable about sales, but they should be brave and sell the benefits, like giving back to the community, friendships and a lively social program,” he says.
“Be upfront about the expense; Rotary isn’t cheap. And when prospects say they’re too busy raising kids, it’s a cop-out. Our best recruits are the busiest people.
“Club member George Skandalellis and I cold-called heaps of small businesses around Balwyn last month and that’s getting us four likely members, additional to five business owners recruited earlier. We also asked all the businesses to be gift sponsors for our Christmas raffle, and that got us $2500 worth of raffle prizes-- all for just two hours work.”
Most of the club’s 18 recruits last year are female, improving the female ratio to 30%. “But our pipeline is 10 prospective guys so we got our ladies together last week and asked them to keep the female ratio going by bringing a girlfriend  to our special membership night on October 27.
“Our cold calls were largely to male-owned businesses but this month we’re going with a lady member and targeting female places like dress shops.”
The club has upgraded its website, Facebook and social media and Stan says 3-4 members came in last year that way.
 “I’m targeting right now an insurance chap who’s on the committee of a key sports club. If I can win him over, he’s likely to bring others in from his club.”
Even the club’s guest speakers can become recruits. “We’ve converted one and potentially two more,” he says.
Stan is on the Fathers’ Association of Genazzano College, Kew, and he reckons there are 5-6 prospects there. One may join when the school year ends in November.
The club helps many charities and it’s no crime to suggest the executives join up, Stan says.
Another tactic is to try to convert some of the club’s Friends of Rotary pool into members.
 “Whatever works, go for it,” he says.