About the Author

Who is Robyn
Robyn Braley is committed to helping Rotarians grow their clubs to become better equipped to help people who need help. He has led two club teams that were awarded RI PR Awards and served as the District 5360 PR Chair. He has been a Rotarian since 1999.

Rotary Speaker
Robyn draws from his experience as a Rotarian and as a Communications Professional to share ways to more effectively tell the Rotary story to your community. He starts by asking the questions, "Is your club ready to grow, and why does it matter?" The ultimate focus is on attracting new members.

He is available to speak at District Conferences and Rotary leadership training institutes. Content also applies to other not-for-profit organizations.

Free Content for #Rotary and NFP Use
Please use any posts for Rotary District or club Newsletters. Include the profile at the bottom of each article, Robyn's headshot and a link to this blogsite. Let him know and he'll promote it to his social media followers.

Contact him at robyn@unimarkcreative.com

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Build Your Rotary Club Through Building Healthy Relationships

Relationship building activities don't have to be hard or expensive.


Written by Robyn T. Braley


It goes without saying that you can only do the same old thing in the same old way expecting a different result for so long. In the end, the strategy will only lead to chronic disappointment.

If your club is losing members, it is time to think differently. Previous Building the Rotary Brand (BTRB) posts have put forward ideas for improving programs, club branding, or raising the profile of your club in your community through mainstream or social media.

Member engagement and club growth are the ultimate goals. But, if your club does not offer relevant, vibrant programs, service projects and social activities that motivate members to remain members, all other strategies for growth are destined for failure.

I’ve written 43 posts in this series. All of them offer viable solutions for branding, recruiting, mainstream media, social media marketing, meeting production and topics relevant to club growth.

Realistically, most clubs can’t implement all of the strategies. But, if you can adopt only one idea and have success, that is worth the effort.


Like Building Lego

Growing a service club is like building something out of Lego. Many individual blocks must fit together in order to make a finished product. It takes focus, dedication and creative ideas to make it real.

In Rotary terms, that means there is no one way to engage members. There is no one way to grow your club.

Rotary engagement is dictated by cycles of life, time of life and changing passions of life. Not all ideas, activities and projects will appeal to all members all of the time. 

Some of the most engaging social activities may be some of the simplest. What social activities does your club employ that your members love? Please comment at the bottom and share your ideas with the world.
Doing things that build relationships will become central to building your club brand. If you accept that your brand is what others think it is, how would you like to be known as the club that enjoys being together and has fun changing and improving lives through service?  

Branding is an organized process of thematic thinking in which all parts make a significant contribution to the whole. Everything is significant. There are no small parts.

That means doing small things that build healthy relationships is just as important as any other thing you do. 

Low Impact Fun Stuff

Low impact? By that I mean low or no cost events that are easy to organize and easy to attend. 

They should appeal to as many people as possible within your club. Some may be right for larger groups while others may be ideal for groups of 10 or less.

Each member must pay for their own tickets, food or other requirements. No-one is saddled with the job of collecting tickets, etc.

If you are attending a concert, play or similar event, prescout the location to find a restaurant that is within easy walking distance. Rotarians eating food fosters good conversation.

Lo Cost Activities

  • I recently spoke at a club that schedules one meeting per month in a local restaurant with no organized agenda. It is purely social.
  • One of my Australian club followers organizes movie nights followed by dinner in a nearby restaurant.
  • My club (Calgary West Rotary) has sold 50ish tickets to a Big Band Concert to be performed by our city philharmonic. Groups are encouraged to meet for a meal or a drink before the event which is in the centre of our arts district
  • A Rotarian whose business has an executive box in an NHL arena invited is group of 8 to attend a game as his guests. 
  • Visit a museum, art gallery or museum to be followed by a tea-time or and scheduled after to discuss what was experienced. 
  • Book a dinner in a private room or a quiet group of tables at a new restaurant
  • Rent a passenger van and schedule a road trip. Everyone chips in to the rental.
  • Organize teams for miniature golf, go carting or horseback riding 
  • Split the cost of taking a clowning class, yodeling class or balloon animal making where curiosity is your friend.

No-Cost Activities

  • A board games night in a member’s home. Set up a tournament. Organize a pot-luck lunch
  • An outside games and barbecue day. at the beach, in the mountains or a favorite area park. Bring your own food.
  • Invite members to watch a championship game on TV. Potluck snacks
  • Set up a discussion of a relevant topic and use speed dating structure to move people from station to station.. Participants change seat every 5 minutes.
  • Organize and improvisation night. Tap the expertise of your local drama teacher to be the facilitator
  • Host a Disney or scary movie night. Get a video projector to show them on a wall. Arrange chairs into a home theatre. Popcorn anyone? 

Relationship Stingers

Meeting Stingers are designed to add surprise, entertainment and interest in a subtle way to meetings. You may also learn things you did not know about club members or their interests. 

You will notice the word 'surprise' in the previous paragraph. If you repeat one of the exercises too often, it will become ordinary and loose it's engagement value. 

The success lies in having control and establishing a loose structure for guide participants. Sometimes you may need to give a heads up to the people participating. Some can be called on spontaneously. 

Give each participant one minute to tell their story. If you have access to a hand held cordless mic, as moderator, go to the person and hold it for them to speak into a la a TV reporter. That gives you control. 

  • Describe the adventure you experienced on your recent trip
  • What book are you reading and what is it about
  • What is the latest movie you attended and what was it about
  • What is an unusual meal that your family loves
  • Name that tune - our President periodically finds recognizable songs, plays a clip on his phone and challenges the group to identify it
  • Name your favorite radio or TV commercial and sing all or part of it
  • What parenting experience would you caution others to never use
  • What historical figure do you admire and why
  • What is the funniest thing that happened on a date 
The End

What do you think? Has your club organized no-cost or low-cost activities that were engaging and fun? Please comment below. I want to hear from you!


Robyn Braley is a brand specialist, professional speaker and writer. He is also a Rotarian who is passionate about Building the Rotary Brand. He has led two teams that received the Rotary International PR Award. He has also served as the PR Chair for District 5360. He often speaks at Rotary clubs, conferences and leadership development assemblies. He currently serves on the District 5360 Membership Committee.

Contact Robyn

Email: robyn@robyntbraley.com   Connect on LinkedIn Follow on Twitter: @rtbraley_rotary 

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