Winning strategy retains Rotaractors

As Victoria emerged from its long COVID lockdowns, members of the Rotaract Club of Whitehorse re-evaluated what was important to them and incorporated these findings into the club’s activities and ethos.

Coming out of the extended COVID-19 lockdowns, the Rotaract Club of Whitehorse, Vic, realised they needed to reconsider how they kept members engaged and enjoying themselves. They took a step back to look at why members joined Rotaract, and the answer was fairly simple: to do good in their community and have fun while doing so. From that, the club assessed how it was meeting these needs.

A bunch of members were keen to get their hands dirty and make a difference, but were too burnt out and time poor to put in the planning often required for larger projects. So, the club focused on initiatives that wouldn’t require planning from members, including:

  • Donating blood through Lifeblood Australia
  • Tree planting with Landcare and Whitehorse City Council
  • Participating in homeless outreaches with charity Mobilise
  • Packing shipping containers for the Rotary Overseas Relocated Playground project
  • Providing people power at the Whitehorse Farmers’ Market held by local Rotary clubs (which also provides the club funds to donate to the community!)
  • Fundraising through established initiatives like The May 50K and STEPtember
  • Volunteering at the Royal Melbourne Show
  • Taking part in Clean Up Australia Day, as organised by Knox Rotaract
  • Supporting a Lift the Lid walk for mental health organised by the Rotary Club of Mont Albert and Surrey Hills

Club members highly valued the social aspect of Rotaract, which the group incorporated in a variety of ways:

  • Attending events held by other Rotaract and Rotary clubs, such as paint and sip gatherings
  • Attending other community events such as high school trivia nights
  • Attending events spanning district, state and international scales such as a district Christmas picnic, Victorian Rotaract Social Night, and social events during the Rotary International Convention.
  • Hosting movie nights, pool nights and dinners

Of course, the club still ran its own events. For these, it’s important to have an emphasis on ownership and fitting with members’ values. The club held its annual Giant Monopoly Night fundraiser; made Christmas cards for nursing home residents; shopped for Kmart’s Wishing Tree Appeal and hosted packing nights for Days for Girls and FORaMEAL.

The Rotaract Club of Whitehorse’s social media presence has been incredibly important in encouraging new members to join. Members post regularly on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter, making them easy to find, while allowing potential members to get a feel for the club and decide if it aligns with their needs and values.

Finally, the most important factor for gaining and retaining members has been the environment the club creates. Members work hard to make sure that it is welcoming and inclusive for all potential members.

Listening to what members are passionate about, and following that, is at the heart of their success.