In a year of economic havoc that rocked global markets and shook consumer confidence, Rotary International's most important asset – its members – steadily grew. As of 30 June, the end of the 2008-09 RI year, there were 1,234,527 members in 33,790 Rotary clubs. That's an increase of 3,044 members and 520 clubs from the previous year.


 "Businesses in tough economies plan how to grow, and most businesses then do grow. Rotary clubs also have to plan for their futures and take action on those plans," said Mike McGovern, chair of RI's Membership Development and Retention Committee.  "New clubs are forming in communities with existing clubs by offering alternative times and the opportunity to bring f resh perspectives to Rotary," McGovern added.

More than 5,700 clubs in the 534 RI districts achieved a membership growth rate of 10 percent or better during the 2008-09 year. The 10 percent goal was set by 2008-09 RI President Dong Kurn Lee, who presided over 12 presidential membership conferences held on six continents during the year. Each conference was attended by between 300 and 1,500 Rotarians. Lee also made personal calls to each of Rotary's district governors.

"We must reach out to people who are different from us and from the members in our club, because this is the way to a stronger club with more connections and better potential," Lee said at the 2009 International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA. Rotary clubs must continue to build membership during the 2009-10 year, said RI President John Kenny. "

I will simply rely on you, as responsible people, to see to it that we have more qualified members, true Rotarians, at the end of the year than we had at the beginning. And I will rely on you to do your best to see to the mentoring of our newest members, for retention is no less important than recruitment," Kenny told Rotarians at the RI Convention in Birmingham, England.  "Rotary grows when members are motivated to invite Rotarians into their clubs and when Rotarians believe they are contributing to a greater good," McGovern said.