March 23, 2024

A guide to North Star

A strategic five-year project to increase membership to 60,000.

By now, Rotary members across Great Britain and Ireland will have likely heard about North Star—a project aimed at increasing membership throughout Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland (Rotary GB&I).

 “North Star is a direction of travel with a key milestone being 60,000 members by 2028. It is our shared vision for invigorating our current membership whilst attracting new diverse members. 

The project will have a significant impact on the future of Rotary internationally, nationally, and locally. This article in Rotary Magazine sets the scene on why it’s needed and the general direction of the project. 

A few months on, and there is now more to share. We’ve created a basic overview of North Star to help inform more people throughout Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire about the project, the goal, what it entails, what clubs can do now. 

This article was produced in collaboration with Anne Sutcliffe (member of Rotary Adventurers) and Kevin Grogan (member of York Rotary). Both Anne and Kevin are at the forefront of this project and membership initiatives for the district and for Rotary GB&I.

What is North Star?

North Star is a project specifically aimed at Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland to grow membership to 60,000 by 2028. It aims to improve the experience for existing and future Rotary members, to encourage a growth in membership that is more diverse and better reflects the communities we serve.  

Rotary International has selected Rotary GB&I as a pilot region for this project. If successful, regional adaptability could be the way ahead taking into account any learning points and enhancements along the way. 

“[Rotary International has] full confidence in our ability to change the way we think and are encouraging us to be more creative and courageous,” says Kevin.

Why is this happening now? 

Over the past five years, Rotary GB&I has lost 20% of membership. This is a pivotal point in Rotary history where a strategic change of direction is needed. 

“If the trend continues, then within 10 years, less than 10% of our membership will be under the age of 70,” explains Kevin. “We need to do something to stop this from becoming a reality.”

Moving forward, it's important there are flexible options for membership that appeal to people with diverse needs. Having more options reduces the perceived barriers to becoming members—be they issues around the time commitment involved, the costs, not being near an existing club, or possibly negative stereotypes of Rotarians.

What will membership options look like? 

“There is no change to how we all do Rotary, and our club experience is here to stay!” Anne explains that the main difference is the addition of Enterprise membership. 

Traditional club membership – This includes clubs that gather weekly (often having a meeting and meal), passport clubs, satellite clubs, and e-clubs. These clubs have a wealth of experience in communities that can be shared with new types of membership. (Read the article from January 2024 about different types of memberships available in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire)

Direct membership – Launched in 2023, this type of membership allows people to join Rotary as an organisation rather than joining a specific club. Direct members connect with one another via online meetups and have the flexibility to volunteer with any Rotary club. (Learn more about Direct Membership)

Corporate membership – This is an existing option for businesses that want to work closely with a local Rotary club. 

Enterprise membership – This is a new option for businesses (with 100+ employees) to get involved in Rotary but is not attached to a specific club. Businesses under this membership will be trained and looked after by a team of people representing Rotary GB&I and will be connected to projects and people that meet the needs of clubs and the businesses. (You can learn more about North Star and Enterprise Membership in this video with Nitesh Joshi.)

“All options are equally important,” says Anne. “It’s about being member centric, not club centric. It means allowing everyone to have a seat at the Rotary table in whatever way is most suitable for the individual.”

Are there any other key elements? 

Other key elements of Rotary’s action plan for growth are enhancing participant engagement and increasing the impact of our projects. 

The North Star project can help clubs and districts explore how to increase their impact. For example, utilising Global Grant opportunities both nationally and internationally can give clubs more resources for bigger, more effective projects. This can help even more people and communities and create a greater public awareness of Rotary. 

Kevin highlights the importance of providing great experiences for existing members. “We want existing members to feel energised by the new opportunities that North Star brings to increase our membership and member engagement.”  

North Star is a key chance to shift Rotary toward being a more member-centric organisation that understands the motivations, interests, and aspirations of members. This shift in focus can help keep people involved in projects, causes, initiatives, and more that matter to them—meeting their personal interests, needs and aspirations. 

Putting more focus on the experience of members and future members, and providing more flexible opportunities, can also help expand reach and enhance the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) of our clubs and Districts to better reflect the communities we serve.

[Image thanks to Memento Media on Unsplash]

Who needs to be involved and how? 

Rotary is back in business. As the North Star framework is being rolled out nationally, to achieve 60,000 members by 2028, every Rotary member and club will need to work together and take responsibility.

“It is up to Clusters, Districts and individual clubs to determine how they will engage with North Star, what projects they will want to plan and implement, and then how they will integrate and retain the new members that they attract,” says Kevin.

What members can do now:

Review the North Star toolkit – The toolkit is available to members in Rotary GB&I. It contains resources and information about Direct, Corporate and Enterprise membership channels and how they operate. You can also request more information, send information about a prospective new Enterprise or Corporate client, and find out more about clusters and funding available for new projects. Visit the North Star toolkit on the Rotary GB&I members site here (MyRotary login required).  

Read the news and updates – Keep an eye out for news, updates, and releases in national and District newsletters. Information is being released to the various District leadership teams and more information will be added to the Rotary GB&I site.

What is your North Star pitch to existing and potential Rotary members? 

Kevin Grogan: “With corporate and enterprise membership now available ‘Rotary is back in business’, and we are keen to establish long term relationships with businesses over the coming years. 

“We are working to enhance both the current and new member experiences from when they first start their Rotary journey to giving them understanding of the wide range of leadership and development opportunities available to them as they progress their volunteering career with Rotary.”

Anne Sutcliffe: “Keep doing what you do best. Keep doing your great projects. Encourage those people who don't realise they're Rotarians yet to get involved…We have a legacy of doing great things in Rotary. Let’s all give this legacy to the future.”

Learn more about North Star

Rebecca A Mendoza is a freelance writer and member of York Rotary. You can learn more about her work at

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