By Evan Burrell, a member of the Rotary Club of Turramurra, New South Wales, Australia
I wonder, as we approach yet another Rotary anniversary, what Paul Harris would think of the Rotary of today? Would he smile, or grimace? He probably didn’t imagine how far his little idea would go when he sat down for that first meeting on 23 February a full 111 years ago.
As a fun exercise, I tried to imagine what it might be like if Paul Harris started Rotary today. To do this, I first imagined what a Gen Y Paul might be like.
I decided he’d be a social entrepreneur and blogger. His personal style is a touch metro, add some emo, and just a squeeze of hipster. He lives a healthy lifestyle, eats organic and gluten free. He is warm and welcoming, with a hearty laugh, and certainly doesn’t need a copy of “How to Win Friends & Influence People.” He has 500 plus connections on LinkedIn.
What does his Rotary club look like?
The club is very inclusive with its membership. They work hard to attract individuals of all genders, races, beliefs, and backgrounds. They are very particular about not incorporating any practices that would be offensive to any particular group. They don’t take political stands, but they are eager, collectively, to dive into action to better their community.
The club uses Facebook, LinkedIn, and social media a lot to connect, not only socially but for service projects. They use Kickstarter and GoFundMe to finance projects, and have developed some Rotary-specific tools (like our Rotary Ideas) to also achieve this goal.
The club meets in person and online on a semi rotational basis, usually once or twice a month depending on the needs to be addressed. The club is more about how members can contribute their talents and take part in projects getting their “hands dirty,” than how many times they show up for a meeting.
Members communicate almost daily through Facebook or Snapchat. Word about what they are doing seeps out through their social media network of friends, co-workers, and colleagues, spreading the excitement and attracting interest.
Their physical meeting locations vary, sometimes at a tavern, sometimes a coffee house. They are kept affordable so members can focus their resources and time on service. Meetings tend to be relaxed, and some people connect remotely via web technologies.
The club hosts regular social events to build stronger relationships between members. Members frequently invite friends with little pressure on the individual to join. Even service projects involve a good number of people who are not members, but share a common interest.
Although I’ve just been imagining, there are certainly clubs that do some of these things. Do you like my vision of what Paul Harris’ club would look like today? What is yours?
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About the author: Evan Burrell is a member of the Rotary Club of Turramurra, New South Wales, Australia, and a former member of Rotaract. He has been involved with Rotary since he was 18. He currently manages social media for Rotary Down Under, the Rotary regional magazine of Australia. Follow Evan on Facebook.