Editor’s Note: In September 2020, Rotary formed a task force charged with assessing the current status of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in Rotary and shaping a comprehensive action plan to help us further value and live those principles throughout the organization. This is the second in a series of blog posts from DEI Task Force members reflecting on their work on the committee and why it is critical for the organization.
Valarie Wafer, task force chair, is 2021-22 Rotary International vice president, and a member of the Rotary Club of Collingwood-South Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada. She has served as an RI training leader, 2018 Toronto Convention Host Organization Committee member, assistant regional Rotary Foundation coordinator, and RI president’s representative. (Read her full bio).
Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of blog posts for Membership Month where experts share how they reach out to prospective members, keep existing members engaged, and create an environment that allows new clubs to form and thrive.
By Tom Gump
I am often asked “How do I grow my club?” or “How do I find members for my new club?” I have a great answer – Rotary alumni. These past participants of Rotary programs are an often-overlooked source of potential members with a built-in understanding of who we are and a past experience with how we take action to serve to change lives.
Alumni represent an incredible network of leaders engaged in service around the world. Clubs sometimes think about inviting them as speakers or using them as extra hands for service projects. But if we take the time, effort, and willingness to remove a few of the barriers that keep them from joining, we can experience the benefits of their insight and talent to grow Rotary.
Let me give you three powerful real-life examples.
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.
Learning a language can be a challenge — but it doesn’t have to be boring or frustrating.
One of the greatest things I gained from my year as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student in Chile in 2009-10 was a deeper love of languages and a better understanding of how to learn them. Rotary members create lasting change in communities around the world. And this often involves travel to new places and cultures and/or working in different languages from one’s native tongue — either as an exchange student, in a scholarship program, or on a service project. Having benefited from my youth exchange, I wanted to pay it forward by sharing some practices I have found helpful in broadening my language skills in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and now German.
Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of blog posts for Membership Month where experts share how they reach out to prospective members, keep existing members engaged, and create an environment that allows new clubs to form and thrive.
By KR Parthasarathy, assistant governor of Rotary District 3150 (Hyderabad, India)
Doing something good in the Rotary world has always been my passion. The reach and access that I was afforded as an assistant governor in my district in India made it possible for me to reach my goals.
My endeavor to grow Rotary in my region began with an idea to revive our 52-year-old community based Rotaract Club of Secunderabad. It was chartered in April of 1968 and is one of the oldest Rotaract clubs in the world. Until the last few years, the club was slumbering with not much activity and not a lot of member engagement. We started at the top, revamping the leadership and bringing in passionate and active people. We were then able to induct 30 new members and discover ways to get them involved in voluntarily community services activities that they were proud to participate in.
Editor’s note: Membership is the life blood of Rotary. Surveys have confirmed that members join because they want to connect with other people and take action to create lasting change. For Membership Month in August we have asked several experts to talk about how they reach out to prospective members, keep existing members engaged, and create an environment that allows new clubs to form and thrive. This is the first in that series.
By Elizabeth Usovicz, Rotary International Director, Zones 30 and 31
Rotary connections are powerful, for both current and future members. After 16 months of lockdown, online business and virtual Rotary meetings, I recently met a longtime client for lunch. The restaurant we chose was quiet that day, and the dining area was empty except for one table.
Our fellow diners were two young men of different races. They seemed to be talking about business as my client and I were seated at a nearby table. We didn’t focus on their conversation until our ears perked up like hyper-alert terriers when we heard one of them say, “Rotary.”
By Byung Woo Kim, past president of the Rotary Club of Cheongju-Musim, South Korea
My Rotary club has been working on more than one global grant project every year. When we were planning an initiative this year, we were seeing a high rate of COVID-19 cases. At that time, the government’s guidelines required that those suspected of having COVID should be tested at their nearest screening center. But as they travel from their home to the screening center using public transportation, they come in contact with multiple people and risk infecting still others in the hospital performing the screening.
Mia Henderson, 2019-20 Youth Exchange Student from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Madrid, Spain
When I was 16, Rotary offered me a chance to experience life beyond anything I had known before. After attending a meeting about Rotary Youth Exchange, I decided to apply to study in Spain.
It took months of hard work to prepare. But before I knew it, it was time to pack up my things and leave. I arrived for my 2019-20 exchange in an unfamiliar country, meeting people I didn’t know, who spoke a language I didn’t speak well. But even though this was my most difficult path yet, I was at peace.
A prominent business leader recently joined your Rotary club. They run a global business and their customers are primarily Rotarians. Your club’s leadership team decides to pay this new member’s way to the next Rotary International Convention; they think the experience will inspire the new member to get more involved in club activities. The member mentions that they plan to have a booth promoting their business in the House of Friendship during the entire convention and probably will not have time to attend sessions. What would you do?
By Michael Collins, Executive Director Americas, Institute for Economics and Peace
In June, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) released its 15th annual Global Peace Index, one of the leading measures of peacefulness globally. Since 2017, the IEP and Rotary have been in a strategic partnership, providing members with new tools to effectively build peace in communities around the world. It has been my pleasure to work with Rotary members as I have been involved in the process of creating a number of global peace indexes.