By Darren Hands
In 2014-15, I served as president of the Rotary Club of Plympton, Devon, England. For many years, we have had a fairly steady program of activities. But with some of our more-established members leaving or taking on fewer roles, I knew I had to look at my year as a way of pushing the club forward through the newer members. Awareness of The Rotary Foundation and our areas of focus had been declining. And within the club itself, there was no “one-stop” port of call to get a full picture of the club’s activities.
Before our club assembly — and before I was aware of Rotary Club Central — the club council (executive board) had already determined the events and projects we wished to pursue and our other aims for the year.
It would be fair to say that, without Rotary Club Central, these plans and goals would still have been followed, but they would have been documented fragmentally. For example, the youth services chair would have known what his or her committee’s plans were, but apart from being told at our club assembly, no one else would have had an idea. The same could be said about the other service areas. Discovering Rotary Club Central allowed me to document all of our goals in one place.
I also wanted our members to try some new ideas, so I challenged each service chair to try at least one new event during the year. Rotary Club Central allowed me to see at a glance how we were doing, rather than keep a separate list that would need constant updating. Our council generally just reports on current activities and not those past or yet to start.
Being a supporter of the Foundation, I also knew that, with our club membership at its lowest in years, it would be easy to achieve a goal of $100 a member for Foundation giving. We’d had quite a debate earlier in the year about our club’s Foundation giving which had led to reassessing how our club made donations. Rotary Club Central came in handy for following up on those discussions. I distributed the reports that I generated to club members each month so they could see how close we were to our target. I think it really helped to keep members motivated and focused.
I’m not sure how much of an impact using the tool had on our service projects’ success – although recording the man-hours and funds raised was certainly an eye opener for my club and me. But Rotary Club Central was very useful in other areas, enabling me to monitor our progress toward our goals.
A club president is not just a figurehead; he or she needs to lead club members and, if necessary, apply a little prod in the right direction if certain areas are moving too slowly. Rotary Club Central arms you with information to do that. If you haven’t discovered it yet, I strongly encourage you to do so.
About the author: Darren Hands is past president of the Rotary Club of Plympton, Devon, England, and an assistant Rotary public image coordinator.