What is your image of Rotary?

150209_burrellBy Evan Burrell, a member of the Rotary Club of Turramurra, New South Wales, Australia, and a regular contributor to this blog

If you are a member of Rotary, you probably already know that it’s one of the largest and oldest service organizations, that we try to attract good people and equip them to be even better, and that we are all about doing good works in our local communities. But what does the general public think about Rotary?

Surveys suggest that a majority of non-members see the organization as mostly old, mostly male, and mostly white. Now, I know I have been to the “Rotary Club of Jurassic Park” once or twice, but I also know we are much more than that. So how do we best counter this common perception of our great organization?

The importance of a good photo

Simple. We absolutely have to be out in the community showing the public the many different faces of Rotary.

Smart public relations is integral to sharing the story of Rotary. When we do any publicity for our club – press releases to media, social media posts, stories on our club website – we have to make sure the photos we select show off our diversity. We need to look for images of people of different ages, of different gender, of a mixture of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It is up to us to accurately reflect the diversity in our clubs.

But even more importantly, it is up to us to make sure our membership does indeed reflect that diversity. (If you do not know if your club reflects the diversity of your community, the Club Assessment Tool is an excellent place to start)

Recognizing women in Rotary

Here in Australia, there is an unofficial movement called “Women in Rotary” spearheaded by Rotary member Kerry Kornhauser to recognize those women who are achieving more and more within Rotary.

Their website puts it this way:

“Women in Rotary was created by The Rotary Club of Albert Park in order to initiate and support a dynamic Rotary culture where men and women work together to expand and build on existing strengths with the benefits of diversity to improve the lives of individuals and communities in a way consistent with the RI Strategic Plan”

Clubs also need to get more involved with our youth programs — Rotaract, RYLA, Interact, and Youth Exchange – and be seen by the community interacting with these future leaders. When people see Rotary members and Interactors involved together in a service project or when they see experienced club members mentoring beginning professionals, this will go a long way in changing the way the public views us.

And if that doesn’t break a few stereotypes, I don’t know what will! What is your image of Rotary?

13 thoughts on “What is your image of Rotary?

  1. My image of rotary is that it once was and hopefully still is an ultruistic society that does good worthwhile things. Is it really necessary to show people what has been achieved in order to make it a worthwhile achievement. Rotarians once quietly achieved great things and drew deserved media attention and respect despite them not looking for it. This is the best form of advertising not the over saturation attention Facebook, Twitter & other social media makes possible. I am motivated to write this because I have found it confronting to see a president of a local rotary group draped in a rotary apron embossed with the rotary motto ‘above self’ when anyone who knows this person knows one is anything but. Using social media to me attracts those with narcissistic traits not the ultruistic traits it founders intended for.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The youth programme needs to be expanded to include RotaKids. This impacts positively on Interact with future members and gives parents of RotaKids a real insite into Rotary.


  3. My image of Rotary is different to the public image, because I am a member and I know what great work my club and all clubs do. We need to get more pictures and articles in the media of Rotary clubs in action, such as cleaning up the park and tree planting, fundraiser for local disabled boy to buy wheelchair, running community cancer event, cooking sausages to raise money for childrens hospital. Once we show we are a hands on volunteer organisation and don’t just sit around at meetings talking and eating we will attract a diverse group of people to become members.


  4. There is no denying the origins of our International Service Organization. The composition of our clubs is evolving..and this is systematic with other organizations-associations. Letting our respective communities-regions experience, participate in and learn of our service projects will travel far towards improving the understanding of Rotary. Extending the family of Rotary to encompass supporters of our clubs as an integral part of our events-services is.an ideal vehicle to foster awareness.

    Make us of your Rotary Community Day..our club will be using an established family-oriented event as the building block for our Day!


  5. How the image of an “association of wealthy persons distributing bank checks to make own good conscience” becomes an association of clubs formed of men and women volunteers and humanitarian off-road who realized to convert bank checks in sustainable development projects, thereby capturing the recognition and partnership of the international community, regional and local?
    The answer lies in the implementation of philosophy, mission and goals of our association within concrete and practical projects and the salutary announces strategic “areas of focus” aligning with the objectives of Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations.


  6. I have visited many Rotary International groups in and around the S.E. Minnesota region. I am finding a large number our young individuals involved in making the world a better place. They are getting to their meetings at 7:00 a.m. so they can get to work on time. They are male and female and vibrant to do all the good they can do. I get invited to share my life with polio. Some are young enough to only know polio because a grandparent has lived their life with polio. Polio is three generations past and with the end so near to having it eradicated I get invited to share the importance of making the goal a reality to End Polio Now. Nigeria is close to being able to say they are polio free. If their government continues to allow the immunizations it will reach it’s goal set for July of 2014. Any organization has a difficult time to cultivate young folks, Church, PTO, sports are just to name a few. They are busy with lots of kids activities. Just keep looking and they are out there to make RI a powerful organization for generations to come.


  7. I agree with the sentiments expressed here, but our image is, “mostly old, mostly male, and mostly white,” because we are mostly old, mostly male, and mostly white. Doing a PR campaign to convince the public otherwise is doomed to failure, unless we clean up our act first. That requires self-examination and a brutally honest self-appraisal, and a long-term commitment to change.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: What is your image of Rotary? | Warsaw Rotary , Club 3393, District 6540

  9. Thoroughly agree that Rotary needs to be out there so it becomes an attractive organisation to join…..social media plays a big part in Public Image ….
    Successful Social Media + Public Image = Membership


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