Yesterday, I was asked to take over as chair of our Rotary Club membership committee. Like many community organizations, it was hit hard by Covid and is trying to rebuild. In considering what obstacles I might face if in that role, the major challenge is knowing what to work on.

Similar to a business trying to grow, there are many tactics the membership committee could do to rebuild membership. Coming up with ideas isn’t a problem. The challenge is in coming up with ideas that are viable. As Hamlet would say, “There’s the rub.”

In your business, when you innovate, or when you try to solve a problem that is new to you, you will generate unqualified options. They are unqualified because they don’t have any expectation of success. You don’t know if any are more or less likely to work than the others.

Because of this, it’s critical to gather data.

However, research is an endless hole. You can dig and dig and you’ll never hit China. The first step then in gathering data is identifying the specific constraints. What exactly do you need to know to sift through all those possible tactics and choose winners?

For Rotary’s membership, there are two basic questions I would need to figure out:

  • Who joins and why? (Customer acquisition)
  • Why do they renew? (Customer retention)

With this knowledge, all the ideas the membership committee comes up with could be evaluated based on their likelihood of success. It doesn’t mean they’ll work, just that we’ll have better footing to identify which tactics have potential and which are long shots.

Featured image is American actor Edwin Booth as William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, circa 1870. Used under public domain.