By Shekhar Mehta, 2021-22 Rotary International President
To grow is a natural phenomenon for everything. Growth is the only evidence of life. As Harvey Firestone, the American businessman who founded the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, said, “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”
It is just as true for Rotary. For the last 20 years we had been at 1.2 million members and I think it is time that we add members and grow more. This growth to 1.3 million in 12 months may sound audacious but it is absolutely possible if we work on Each One, Bring One.
Membership’s a gift
To me the gift of membership to Rotary has been an extraordinary gift and I thank my proposer Chittaranjan Choudhury for this most valuable life-changing gift. Membership to Rotary has meant opening myriad opportunities for me. The opportunities to make friends, opportunities of leadership, opportunities of service, and opportunities of giving. It has influenced my life so much that service has become a way of life for me and my guiding mantra has become “Service is the rent I pay for the space I occupy on this Earth.”
Having realized how valuable this gift is, I had always wanted to share this gift with others over 36 years as a Rotarian having bought more than 50 members into different clubs of Rotary. In Rotary many of them have taken up senior leadership positions and have “Served to Change Lives.”
Diversity, equity, & inclusion
As we bring in members, we have to remember that diversity is one of the core values of Rotary. In fact, if we look at the kaleidoscope of membership in Rotary, we find people of different color, belief, religion, sexual orientation, etc. As Rotarians we have embraced this diversity. To attract members, we need to ensure equity, meaning that we will need to be fair, we will respect equality and sameness, and that we will value diversity and inclusion.
This approach will help people feel included, where everyone will be looked at as equal and equal opportunities will be given to all. This approach will also lead to inclusion which is important for supporting diversity. Inclusion will mean being open and creating an environment where everybody is valued and welcome and everyone is given an opportunity.
Rotary Days of Service
I come from a part of the world where the number of Rotary service projects are highest in the world. The needs are many and Rotarians find opportunities to fulfill these needs. When these are showcased to the public, more often than not people enquire about how to join Rotary because they too want to be People of Action and find solution to the needs of the community.
In my own club, when we did an event for Little Heart Surgery, people were so moved and touched that three of them enquired and two of them joined the club.
Rotary clubs have a great opportunity in showcasing their work to local communities by organizing Rotary Days of Service. These could be events that showcase service projects done locally or even internationally, using virtual platforms. Meaningful seminars and awareness campaigns on different service initiatives can be good opportunities too.
Recognizing efforts of Rotarians in an effective way keeps them motivated. We do a great job in recognizing donations to The Rotary Foundation. With this in mind, we have introduced The Membership Society for New Member Sponsors for recognizing the efforts of Rotarians to excel in membership growth. This virtual platform will showcase to audiences worldwide the names of Rotarians who have brought in more than 25 members into Rotary. There are different slabs of recognition the details of which can be seen on My Rotary.