Several months back, we introduced The Art of Retention.  Retention will always be a topic of conversation and debate for membership-based organizations. There is no right way, or wrong way.  The “silver bullet” may work for one, and not the other. 
We concluded before that membership retention is everything from A to Z … leadership, energy, organization, public image, service, community engagement, Club culture, connectivity, fun and value!  Today, we add another, recognition!
For Rotarians … service is part of our DNA.  It comes natural. We engage in service because it is why we are part of Rotary … it is the right thing to do. Clubs have various awards they present to honor members for outstanding service.  Let me introduce you to a new suite of awards just introduced by the Rotary Club of Temple … the Keyway Award and the Mark of Excellence Award.
The history of Rotary International’s wheel is significant to the importance of Rotary.  The wheel is the symbol of Rotary since our earliest days with the first design in 1905 … a simple wagon wheel with a few lines to show dust and motion.  The wheel was said to illustrate civilization, movement and service, work in action!
In 1922, the single gear wheel design was adopted as the exclusive emblem of Rotarians.  The gear teeth, 24 in total, around the outside represent the fact that work is to be done.  The six spokes represent the diversity of the business and community leaders who make up the membership.  These same spokes represent an outward distribution path of Rotary’s ideas of service and the Four-Way Test, going toward the community, vocations and businesses that our members represent.
In 1923, a group of engineers advised that the geared wheel was mechanically unsound and would not work without a keyway in the center of the gear to attach it to a power shaft.  So, the keyway was added to signify the wheel was a worker and not an idler.
The keyway in the center of the hub is symbolic because it represents the individual Rotarian member, the shaft and turn, putting energy into motion and creating the power for the gears to do their work.
Rotary Club of Temple adopted the creation of the Keyway Award to recognize outstanding member(s) for their exceptional engagement in the Club’s initiatives based on the Object of Rotary and the core value of Rotary International – Service Above Self! The Keyway Award may be presented monthly and may include more than one recipient.  Annually, the Rotarians selected as Keyway Award recipients the previous Rotary year would be considered for the Rotarian of the Year, Mark of Excellence Award, to be presented at an annual event.
No matter what you call it, recognition of members is an important part of the retention process. Perfect attendance was a benchmark Clubs used to recognize members.  Today, Clubs hold a special banquet where Rotarians are recognized for leadership and service.  District 5870 hosts the Rotary Foundation Gala in January to honor members for reaching new milestones in their financial support of the Rotary International Foundation.  There are all types of opportunities to check The Art of Retention recognition box in your Club.  If you don’t have a recognition plan in place, don’t fret. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel (no pun intended).  “Borrow” and improve upon this model or others you may know.
Rod Henry, Member
District 5870 Membership Committee