How to engage members during the coronavirus pandemic

Keep members engaged through virtual meeting platforms.

By George Robertson-Burnett, Zone 34 Rotary Coordinator and past governor of Rotary District 6890

These are certainly interesting times we live in. None of us could have foreseen these extraordinary circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus. Rotary clubs everywhere are wrestling with the question, How do we maintain membership engagement during the pandemic?

Well, this is Rotary and I am sure that these challenges will bring out our considerable strengths – ingenuity, decisiveness, flexibility, and integrity.

Here in Zone 34 (Georgia, Florida, USA and Caribbean), our Rotary Coordinator team has put together a guide to assist clubs in their efforts to maintain membership engagement during these difficult times. The suggestions are not exhaustive, and many clubs will surely come up with new ideas as their ingenuity and adaptability finds new and innovative ways to maintain our fellowship. But we wanted to offer this guide to all clubs as they explore online meetings and other adaptive solutions.

One of our Rotary e-clubs, the Rotary E-Club of the Caribbean, is generously offering to set up online meetings for clubs in our zone at no charge. We suggest you check with e-clubs in your area for help and advice on structuring online meetings.

Download our Coronavirus Response Guide. You can also e-mail me for further ideas.

Share your ideas in the comments section below.

31 thoughts on “How to engage members during the coronavirus pandemic

  1. Rotary District 9500 in South Australia – Donations in Kind (DIK) – has supplied hospital beds and other medical equipment to hospitals here, being set as Covid-19 hospitals. Everything helps.


  2. The Rotary Club of Makati (D3830 Philippines) has donated P3.2M (US$64,000) for Nine (9) Enhanced Quarantine Facilities (15 beds/mattresses each) for PUIs or positive COVID-19 patients; P1.8M (US$36,000) for Relief goods; P700k (US$14,000) for Personal Protective Equipment (suits/hoods/masks/face shields) as part of our 100% matching program for donation of other clubs for joint efforts.


  3. #RotaryResponds
    (Italy – District 2060 – Zone 3)
    Rotaract Mestre Insieme, Rotaract Noale dei Tempesta and Rotaract Venezia-Riviera del Brenta

    Our national health system is close to collapse because of insufficient intensive care units compared to exponential growth of Covid-19 infection. This will lead our doctors to a choice that no one would ever want to make: choose who lives and who dies, based on age, and clinical status more or less compromised. But we’re still talking about human lives.

    As Rotaract Mestre Insieme, Rotaract Club Noale dei Tempesta and Rotaract Club Venezia Riviera del Brenta, we want to support our local hospitals in every possible way, because the capillarity of contagion requires a capillarity of support and cooperation.

    That’s why we activated a virtual fundraising. The funds raised will be devoted to the ULSS3 Serenissima (including hospitals in Venice, Mestre, Dolo, Mirano, Noale and Chioggia) addressed to the Coronavirus emergency.👇🏻


  4. The Rotary Club of Princeton, WV (District 7545) is partnering with a local non-profit to provide food for school children on the weekends and during spring break. Our school district is 100% free breakfast and lunch and, unfortunately, that means that many children do not eat except at school. The school district is busing weekday food to the students at this time; however, the usual programs that provide weekend meals have had to cease during our stay-at-home order, and summer programs cannot start up at this time. We have worked out a plan to pack in a local school gym that meets the health criteria for sanitation and social distancing. We are raising money and club members are packing the food. We are gearing up today for a large effort to pack food for our spring break while the schools are not delivering food.


  5. Key note: don’t go digital – be digital. (My LinkedIn article on this in the the Rotary learning center.) Think how to be natively digital with your actions, not just move IRL onto the cloud.

    Rotary eClub | WOKE is still active in virtual service, helping a non-profit in Buffalo NY transition their fundraising efforts for their girls school in Northern Tanzania, as well as helping a women in Costa Rica with their new website (watch for the next issue of The Rotarian!).

    Rotary Connects the World. It’s the human connections…not the technological tools that make this real.

    Stay safe everyone!


  6. As the response to Covid-19 becomes more intensive in Mauritius in the district 9220, our
    Rotary Club of Beau Bassin Rose Hill has therefore decided to partner with a state owned company‘Airports of Mauritius’ to provide Medical Equipment to support the
    Ministry of Health in this national battle. Equipment with
    state-of-the-art technologies and mainly intended for intensive care and
    cardiac units were donated at a cost of Three Million Rupees which is
    roughly equivalent to 85,000 USD. A team of technicians were at work
    at the Hospital of Souillac in Mauritius on 23 rd March, 2020 despite the
    area being considered a high risk one in terms of Covid-19 to ensure that
    the equipment were commissioned. With this new equipment, more
    patients in need of respiratory assistance and careful monitoring will
    be able to receive the required treatments. The analytical devices
    offered, such as the immunoassay analyzer, will allow the patient to
    obtain information on the patient’s biological parameters and state of
    health with precision and in a very short time. The results of certain tests
    can thus be completed in less than 20 minutes.
    Our aim was to save people lives.


  7. Our Rotary Clubs in Petaluma, California, USA offered to host a blood drive as soon as the Covid-19 Virus became apparent. We hosted our first one yesterday, Thursday April 2, and it was a resounding success. I led the way in securing a place for the drive where social distancing would be possible, and created a sign-up genius to recruit volunteers to help with the drive. The drive had 33 people sign-in with 29 draws, which was an amazing first effort. We plan to do another one at the end of this month, and fully expect it to be completely subscribed in no time. Working together with volunteers from all three Petaluma Rotary Clubs made this so easy, and we enlisted the help of a local church to donate the church hall in order to have the space. WE know that only HUMANS can give blood for other HUMANS, and with so many blood drives being cancelled because they were being held in places that are now shuttered, we felt the need was great. and we responded as Rotarians do!
    Juli Lederhaus
    Petaluma Valley Rotary Club
    District 5130


  8. The Rotary Club of San Diego Foundation contributed $57,500 toward three area initiatives. Members added an additional $7,500 making our grant total $65,000. Read the press release here:

    Contact Information:
    David Oates

    San Diego Rotary grants more than $55,000 to local initiatives in response to Coronavirus
    – Volunteer organization of more than 500 local leaders to support initiatives for those dealing with food, rental, utility, income insecurity –

    SAN DIEGO – March 23, 2020 – The San Diego Rotary Club today contributed $57,500 in grants to help individuals struggling with food, rental, utility and income insecurity as a result of the Coronavirus lockdown orders.
    The volunteer organization of more than 500 local leaders will distribute the funds as follows:
    • $25,000 to the San Diego Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund. This fund started thanks to a coalition of philanthropy, government and business partners to rapidly deploy flexible resources to community-based organizations at the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak in San Diego County.
    • $25,000 matching grant to The Monarch School. The campus serves at-risk and homeless youth. With its closing last week, students require temporary assistance for shelter, food, health and mental health services. Monarch administrators sought San Diego Rotary’s help in creating a program by which the organization will match contributions dollar for dollar up to $25,000.
    • $7,500 “We Are Everywhere” Virtual Food Drive. San Diego Rotary teamed up with the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank for a challenge match. Individuals can shop in a virtual food pantry and drag the items they want to buy into a shopping cart or make a direct donation. San Diego Rotary will match each contribution dollar for dollar up to $7,500.
    The proceeds came from club members as well as the Rotary Club of San Diego Foundation, the organization that supports the work of San Diego Rotary, the fourth largest Rotary Club in the world.
    “When we see opportunities to create a positive and meaningful impact, we act,” said David Oates, president of San Diego Rotary. “We can make this kind of contribution thanks to the amazing, generous spirit of our members. I’m grateful for their desire to step up and take this leadership role at a time when San Diegans everywhere need support most.”
    About San Diego Rotary
    As the fourth largest in the world, San Diego Rotary provides its members with unmatched opportunities to drive meaningful change at home and around the world. Boasting more than 500 local members of all ages, backgrounds and business sectors, the organization creates a rich network of passionate individuals that fuel weekly programs and drive impactful community projects through its 55 committees. More information is available at

    # # #


  9. The Rotary Australia World Community Services Donation in Kind at Edinburgh Park South Australia loaded the last of seven truckloads of Medical equipment for the SA Health COVID-19 Hospital being setup in the old Wakefield Hospital. This in addition to 120 beds to the SA Health Collinsgrove site last week & 6 Ventilators to the Royal Adelaide Hospital earlier this week. The Donations in Kind team feel privileged to be able to help in this time of need.


  10. Rotary Club of Jodhpur Roundtown (District 3053) is distributing 2300 food packets every day to the needy people in Jodhpur (India) since 23rd March. Club will be doing this during the entire lockdown period.
    #RotaryResponds #Rotary


  11. Pingback: I Rotary club aiutano a combattere la pandemia di COVID-19 - Rotary Club Poggio Renatico

  12. Pingback: Rotary clubs help fight the COVID-19 pandemic – Rotary Club Lions Gate

  13. Preston Trails Rotary Club suspended all meetings until further notice. Funds were donated to our local charity/foodbank to go towards feeding the hungry and local children out of school. We placed our flags from our flag program around our town square in unity and I make a post weekly on our facebook page in lieu of meetings. I am working on setting up a zoom account so we can meet face to face virtually.


  14. Once a vaccine or effective proven therapy has been developed is there a plan for Rotary to work with WHO and Gates foundation to eradicate COVID-19 similar to the polio commitment?


  15. It is very important to engage the members as most of the countries are going through Lockdown and Rotarians are eager to contribute their best in this hour of calamity.


  16. Pingback: Embracing virtual meetings for your club – Rotary District 5450 Business Directory

  17. Lake Worth Beach Rotary Club meetings canceled until further notice
    Last Thursday the board of directors held a emergency teleconferenced meeting, with the question asked, “What can we do to help people in Lake Worth Beach who have been impacted by the Coronavirus?”
    The fact that our weekly meeting has been suspended until further notice and we all have already paid for our meals it was decided to take some of those funds and give each of the fourteen waiters and waitresses at Brogues Down Under, where we meet each week, a Publix $50.00 gift cards, as their employment is day to day and Rod Regan, the owner, is thinking that the state could possibly close all restaurants.
    He said turnout for St. Patrick’s Day was down 70% and business is very light and a large part of the waiters and waitresses pay are gratuities.
    We are also actively looking to help other local needs and asking anyone with a suggestion to contact Rotary Club President Brian Betron, Phil Albertz or Pat Growney


  18. Pingback: Embracing virtual meetings for your club | Rotary Voices

  19. District 6440 (Northern Illinois, USA) is underwriting the cost of a Zoom Pro license (for one year) for its clubs, asking them to create a Virtual Meeting Coordinator who will receive advance training and lead the club’s virtual meeting processes, encouraging members to take part. Many of the clubs have already begun meeting online. A district Virtual Meeting Team is coordinating the district-wide effort, including holding an online meeting with club presidents and presidents-elect to share ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Corona Pandemic, Stay Home stay Safe. Best ever. Prevention is better than Cure.
    RI District 3054 doing Virtual Meeting.




  22. If Rotary Clubs do not adopt online, virtual meetings they will lose a lot of members when we get to the other side of this pandemic, meetings keep us together and informed. I feel that Clubs should also to contact regularly those members without access to a PC and basically socialise with others over the phone, Skype, FaceTime … because that is Rotary, friendship and looking after each other.
    Rotary Club of Milton-Ulladulla, D9710, NSW Australia


  23. Don’t you think that it can transmit through water and based on this it can be more hazardous meaning we can if we get to sanitize the water before we use it it can work rather than using just purified water


  24. George Thank you for this. We will be adapting in D1100 to fit our needs but it is a very helpful start and well will be circulating to all clubs and District officers. We’ll update on how it is received,. For information I have just spoken to the District Treasurer and we will be offering 2 budgets next year one for a standstill membership and one for a reduced membership. The age profile of our District is skewed to the over 60s and we may lose people who no longer have the habit of going to a rotary dining event very week. Out of this there are opportunities but we will have to work on them.


  25. Rotary after the Corona virus 🦠 pandemic… New ways to connect!
    In Lebanon 🇱🇧 (District 2452) most clubs have moved to virtual meetings.
    Hope this crisis will pass with less damage…
    Stay Safe Stay @ Home 🙏🏻😘


  26. Our District (5080) is finding that there are many silver linings in this dark cloud: it’s forcing us to learn the technologies we should know already; it will be easier to engage outside club boundaries; unique opportunities for District Leadership to sharpen their skills.


  27. Yes, I think that we will have two kinds of Rotary: one is the Rotary before coronavirus pandemic and the other will be the Rotary after the coronavirus pandemic!

    In Brazil, all clubs are begining with virtual meetings.


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