Notes on Ruritan Membership

Membership Class (free clip art)

Membership Class (free clip art)

Taken from the notes of a presentation by Linda Bradshaw, 2014 Rapidan District Lt Governor for Zone 2 Meeting November 12, 2014

Within Ruritan there are many different classifications of membership. Within the classifications you can have adult membership or youth membership. In one classification you can even have a business membership. It can get confusing at times! So I hope to help clear up the confusion with this post.

I am referencing the newest (rev 8/14) Ruritan Club and District Officers’ Handbook that discusses the guidelines for membership. A copy of the Handbook can be found on the Ruritan National’s Website if you search for it, or you can find it easily on the Rapidan’s District website as a link on the right hand side of the web page, or by clicking right here.

Starting on page 52 of the Handbook there is a chart that shows the different membership classifications, and specific details of those different categories. I will not go over every one of those details, you would probably fall asleep! I will touch on a few highlights, and you can review the rest at your convenience.

You can have Ruritan Forever Members in all categories. (Will discuss Ruritan Forever Memberships in more detail in a moment.) You can have both adults and youths in all of these classifications, the basic difference between them is the amount of dues that are paid. (Will discuss youth membership dues in more detail further down in the article.)

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At first glance you will see that the basic types of membership are listed across the top of the chart on page 52, and they are:

1) Active (both Regular and Leave of Absence or At Large)
2) Honorary
3) Associate

Along the left side of the page are different scenarios (Dues, Attendance, and Club Participation) that might apply, and then you can follow the chart across to see the different answers to the scenarios for the different types of members.

In nutshell, the Active regular members are the only ones with attendance requirements. The Adult Active members are the only ones that pay full dues to National Ruritan, the District, and their local clubs. Every other membership type pays a different amount for dues.

I mentioned Ruritan Forever memberships, and on page 54 of the Handbook you can see information, and an application form for the Ruritan Forever membership. These members have either paid a lump sum of $600 to Ruritan National out of their own pocket, or someone paid it for them as a gift. From that point forward they only have to pay District Dues and Local Club dues if they remain active members. If they change their membership to a type that only pays National Dues, then they don’t have to pay any dues ever again.

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Leave of Absence or At Large Members are not required to attend meetings, and they all count towards the charter strength of a club. This would be the perfect Membership for students who are going away to college, members that are going away on military duty, members who are moving to another area that may not have a Ruritan Club, or members that are experiencing a temporary issue that affects their ability to attend meetings.

Youth (free clip art)

Youth (free clip art)

At this point I need to discuss Youth Members. According to the Handbook, on page 118, titled “Bylaws of Ruritan National” in the left column, Section 3 subsection E. Defines Youth members: “Youth members will be age 19 and under and shall be active, honorary, or associate members of adult clubs.” I want to point out that some people think that means that on their 18th or 19th birthday they are no longer youth members, but the reality is that they are officially youth members until their 20th birthday.  If you find any brochures or publications that indicate that youth members are “under 19” they are outdated and should read “19 and under.” I have discussed this with Ruritan National, and they are in agreement with me on this interpretation.

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Youth members only pay $15 per year total, and all of that money goes to National. Youth do NOT pay District or Local Club dues. That is per page 89 “Note 3” that says “youth members only pay $15 annual Ruritan National Dues.” I have discussed that with Ruritan National as well, and they are in agreement that they do NOT PAY District or Local club dues, only National. The $15 per year can be paid in quarterly increments of $3.75 per quarter.

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And to make things even more complex, on page 68 there is an explanation of the “Ruritan Student Program” that explains that the local club can invite two students to join the club, and the club can pay the initiation fee and dues for one year for those two students.

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We are not even going to talk about Ruri-Teens in this post – that is a special type of Ruritan Club.

Geriatric (free clip art)

Geriatric (free clip art)

Honorary Membership is the perfect membership option for our elderly members who have found it difficult to attend meetings and help out with our activities. Maybe they are now confined to wheel chairs, or in nursing homes! We don’t want to kick these valued members to the curb, do we?

Honorary Members count towards charter strength, are eligible to hold an office, may serve as a convention delegate, and are allowed to vote on club issues and elections. I would encourage all of our local clubs to consider bestowing Honorary Membership Status to those members who are “aging out” of our clubs. The clubs can pay the dues for these members. This is a great way to honor our members who have dedicated many years of service to our club. I will be encouraging all of our clubs to consider this membership option whenever they receive word that one of our long-time members is considering resigning from Ruritan! (Note, some clubs have their own form of Honorary Membership where the individual is considered an Honorary Member of their club and no dues are paid, which is fine, but they are NOT counted as “official members” of Ruritan and are not on the membership rolls at National. This Honorary membership is different and not really part of this discussion.)

Associate Members can be individual people, or they can be a business/organization.

The biggest differences between an individual Associate Member and an Active Member is that an Associate Member does not get to vote on any issues, and that the Active Members have to attend meetings in order to remain a member in good standing. An Active Member has to attend or make-up at least one meeting or function per quarter of any local club, or District Meeting, or National meeting. The “Make-up” event must be attended within 30 days before or after the missed local club meeting in order to be valid. Those guidelines can be found in the back of the Handbook, in the National and local club By-Laws on page 126 under Article IX. Attendance, Section A and Section B. Of particular importance is to realize that the member does not have to attend ANY of their OWN club meetings if they have appropriate Make-Up meetings.

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Associate Members are requested to help out (as much as possible) at club events, such as trash-pick-up, fund-raising activities. If an Associate Member is unable to help out with these things, it would be appropriate to consider changing the Membership type to Leave of Absence/At Large, or Honorary.

Of important note here is that only 25% of the required 16 members (towards charter strength) may be Associate members! So that means that only 4 Associate members can be counted towards the charter strength of the club! If the club has 16 members, and 5 or more of those members are Associates, then the club is officially below charter strength!

Businesses can join Ruritan Clubs as Associate Members. Businesses would be a valuable addition to any Ruritan Club. They can donate supplies and resources to our club’s events, and help with printing and publicity concerns. When they join a club they are given their choice of a wall plaque or a window static for them to display in their place of business. This is great publicity for our Ruritan Clubs!

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There are several posts on this website that I wrote about the many great ways Business members can benefit our clubs. I encourage you to read them when you get the chance. Here are the links:

 Note: When going through the Handbook last year, I noticed that the Official Invitation to Membership had been revised and that an omission was problematic for the Business applicant. The Business is supposed to indicate that they want either a wall plaque or window static, and the Official Invitation does not provide them with the opportunity to do that. This wall plaque or window static is supposed to be provided by National at no cost to the local clubs. So I have created a revised Invitation that provides them with the option to choose. I have sent a copy of that Revised Invitation to National with the suggestion that they use it.

If you recruit a Business Member between now and the time a revised Invitation is provided, I would encourage you to ask the Business Member which they want, the wall plaque or the window static, and hand-write it on the application. Once the member has been approved and pays their dues, call Ruritan National Supply and order the wall plaque or window static. And if you already have Business Members that never got a plaque or window static, please ask that member what they want, and then call Ruritan National Supply and order one – Ruritan National pays for it – the local club does NOT pay for it!

I would like to encourage everyone that is interested in keeping up-to-date on Ruritan news that effects the Rapidan District to subscribe to this website. If you subscribe to it, you will get new posts via email so you won’t have to keep going back to the website to see if anything new is happening. And I would like to take this opportunity to ask all of the clubs to send me notices of their club’s upcoming events and press releases about what is going on in each club so I can be putting those on the website to help promote your clubs!

Before I end my discussion of membership classifications, I want to take one more moment of your time to quote a section of the By-Laws of Local Ruritan Clubs, which can be found on page 124 of the Handbook under Article IV, Membership, Section B that explains who can be a member: “Any community-minded person whose interest is allied with the club and community shall be considered for club membership.”

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As we look to the future of our Ruritan Clubs, we would be well advised to take a hard look at our recruiting practices and consider inviting a wider variety of community members to join with us in our endeavors to continue providing community service to our local areas. I believe that with careful research, you may find a lot more people that have a skill or talent that can benefit our clubs mission of fellowship, goodwill, and community service! If our clubs are to continue to exist, it is essential that we diversify our ranks. I realize that change can be challenging, but diversity is our friend!

Diversity (free clip art)

Diversity (free clip art)


How Does a Business Member Benefit a Community Service Club like the Ruritans?

From the desk of the 2016 Publicity Chairperson:

Please note, images used in this post are, to the best of our knowledge, “Free Clip Art.” No copyright infringement is intended. If you own the rights to any of these images, we would be glad to, upon notification by you, either remove the image, or give you proper credit on the website. Simply contact the webmaster to let us know of the conflict.

Community Service (free clip art)

Community Service (free clip art)

In this day and age, more businesses are feeling the call of corporate leadership, and are looking for ways to support the local community. One way they can do that is by joining local community service organizations, such as the Ruritan Club.

Sample membership certificate

Sample membership certificate

Having a business member helps increase public awareness of a club’s existence. When a business member receives the membership plaque or window cling from the club, the business might display the plaque on their wall, window, or door, in a public space.

Customers and/or employees may see that wall plaque or window cling and through that sighting become aware for the first time that the Ruritan Club exists (they may have never heard of us!) This may spark a conversation between the customer/employee and the person within the company that did the paperwork for the application. Maybe even result in a few new members joining the club! This relates to the first part of our slogan “Fellowship, Goodwill and Community Service.”

Newsletter (free clip art)

Newsletter (free clip art)

Often businesses have newsletters that they distribute among their customers/employees. They like to include stories in their newsletters about how they are “giving back” to the community by joining local community service clubs. If they join our club, chances are that they will publish a story about it in their newsletter. If they have a website and/or facebook page, they will likely include a mention about their membership with our club on that media as well. After all, those stories make their companies look like good corporate citizens. And, those stories will help to publicize our club at the same time.

Handshake (free clip art)

Handshake (free clip art)

Businesses that are members of our club have already indicated (by the very act of joining) an interest in supporting our causes. Chances are good that they are going to be receptive to the idea of donating gift cards, money, or services to our club from time to time when they are approached in the right way. That relates to “Community Service.”

A business owner may also decide later on in the relationship with the club to become an active member on a personal level, once he/she has become more familiar with all of the good deeds that our club does. They may consider encouraging their employees/families to join the club as well. More “Fellowship.”

Networking (free clip art)

Networking (free clip art)

A business member is a good resource for networking. Networking is a great thing! If our club has a need, and reaches out to the business members, asking for advice or referrals, the business member may be willing to help introduce us to people and companies that can help us accomplish our goals. The business member may not be able to help us directly, but often can help us get in touch with someone else who can help us, and with a little bit of social finesse, may get us discounts or free labor. This directly relates to “Goodwill.”

Some business members might help us with free publicity, letting us put our flyers in their windows. Others might donate gift cards or merchandise for us to use as door prizes, raffle prizes, or auction prizes. Some of them might buy ads in future fund-raising calendars in future years, or buy an ad in the District Convention Program. Some may donate ammo for a Turkey Shoots, buy a vendor table at a yard sale, or donate food for the concession stand to sell at one of our events. Some may provide free Internet installation and monthly service to the building we use as our club house. Still others may create and maintain our club’s website for free. Others may provide us with office supplies, or free printing services. Some businesses might even donate money to our scholarship fund-raising! All of this relates to “Goodwill and Community Service.”

partnership (free clip art)

partnership (free clip art)

Having a business member will increase our membership numbers, making us look good for National. That’s always a good thing! A business membership in the Ruritan Club is a form of Associate Membership. Clubs get rebates from National on the dues that an Associate pays to Ruritan! A business member will not interfere with the internal workings of the club, as they have no voting rights, and cannot serve on the board of directors. However, they may attend our meetings and be part of our “Fellowship” any time they wish.

Listing our business members on our website, our Facebook page, our membership promotional materials, (which costs us next to nothing) makes our club look good in the public eye. Acknowledging their membership and thanking them for their association with us, will help them to feel appreciated, and will encourage their continued membership and sponsorship of our events. This promotes “Goodwill.”

Business (free clip art)

Business (free clip art)

Putting all of that information on our promotional materials helps potential members to see us as a worthwhile club. After all, if these businesses have joined our club, then we must be a good club, right? This will encourage potential members (both business and personal) to join us, as we have the endorsements of these respected business members of our community. More “Fellowship” ensues.

There really is no down-side to having business members in our club. The more business members our club has, the better. More money goes to National Ruritan to help with all of the good work Ruritan does, and the local endorsement we get from the business members is priceless.

Win-Win Solution (free clip art)

Win-Win Solution (free clip art)

A business membership in a community service club such as our Ruritan Club is a win-win situation for everyone. Actively recruiting business members will help the club to grow and thrive, and supports our slogan “Fellowship, Goodwill, and Community Service” in every way possible.


Need new members? Consider recruiting your local businesses!

Recruitment image

Recruit!

From the desk of Lt. Governor:

Does your club have any business members? If not, your club may be missing out on some great opportunities to improve their membership, publicity, and community service!

There is an informative post about the benefits of business members that makes some worthwhile points to consider. The article can be read on this page. If you want to read the articles, you can click on the hyperlink in the previous sentence to be taken to the appropriate page.

I’d like to encourage all of the Ruritan Clubs to consider the benefits of inviting local businesses to join their Ruritan club. Business members can be a valuable resource to Ruritan clubs.