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The oldest service group in the US, Rotary International, turns 105 today.  Like many other service groups (such as the Elks, Kiwanis, et al), Rotary is facing challeges caused by demographics – an aging membership – and marketing – how to show value and relevance to younger generations.rotary24-inch

The Press of Atlantic City took a closer look at service groups and their membership in January:

The average age for members of service groups has steadily risen, and is now in the late 50s for most. Since young people have not been joining the groups, there is a fear that the average age will continue to rise and that increased health problems will prevent members from being as effective.

It isn’t that young people are not volunteering, said sociologist Peter Levine, of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. They just do not tend to join organizations such as service clubs, which can require weekly meetings at restaurants; annual dues of at least $100, plus meal costs; and the time commitment of serving on committees.

Instead, young people and parents of young children volunteer for events and charities that they can fit into busy work and family lives.

Rotary has been adjusting to the times with new classes of memberships and different types of clubs that meet less frequently or even online.  The service organization continues to experience strong growth overseas and achieve remarkable things.  Read the entire article here.

At Creating Results, we feel the principles and pursuits of service groups like Rotary are truly ageless – it’s a great place for Gen X, Baby Boomers the (not-so-) Silent Generation, AND Gen Y/younger people.

Todd Harff is Vice-President of the Lake Ridge (VA) service group, and our charity arm, Creating Results in the Community, has partnered with Rotary on many projects.  Most recently we sent a Shelter Box to help people in Haiti.  An added benefit is that Rotarians have been great clients. 

Rotary has 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs worldwide.  Learn more about the organization here:

And, Happy Birthday, Rotary!

About The Author

Erin Read

Erin Read spearheads integrated and digital marketing programs for organizations targeting mature consumers. She writes, researches and speaks about marketing to baby boomers and seniors. Erin has addressed local, regional, international conferences on generational marketing. She is the co-author of three national studies/eBooks (Photo Finish; Social, Silver Surfers 2010 & 2013) and the principal blogger for Mature Marketing Matters.

  • TRW50066

    Interesting blog, but it’s missing an important part of the equation: Generation Jones (between the Boomers and Generation X). Google Generation Jones, and you’ll see it’s gotten lots of media attention, and many top commentators from many top publications and networks (Washington Post, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) now specifically use this term. In fact, the Associated Press’ annual Trend Report chose the Rise of Generation Jones as the #1 trend of 2009. Here’s a page with a good overview of recent media interest in GenJones:

    It is important to distinguish between the post-WWII demographic boom in births vs. the cultural generations born during that era. Generations are a function of the common formative experiences of its members, not the fertility rates of its parents. And most analysts now see generations as getting shorter (usually 10-15 years now), partly because of the acceleration of culture. Many experts now believe it breaks down more or less this way:

    DEMOGRAPHIC boom in babies: 1946-1964
    Baby Boom GENERATION: 1942-1953
    Generation Jones: 1954-1965
    Generation X: 1966-1978
    Generation Y: 1979-1993

  • Erin Read Ruddick

    TRW50066 (may I call you TR?), good point. Because of the large range of birth years covered by “Baby Boomers” – the younger booomers are often considered a cohort of their own. We tend to use this example when presenting on marketing to boomers: The Clintons are leading edge boomers; the Obamas are trailing edge or Gen Jones.

    The Press article noted it’s getting tough for service groups to attract any members under age 50 (which would include young Gen Jones-ers).

    This blog has addressed Generation Jones in a number of posts: check out