RI President’s message – January 2014

We often talk about Rotary as an extended family, with all of its branches and generations. We value our youth program participants and alumni as important members of the Rotary family, and we place a special emphasis on service to children and families. We do this because we know that for any family, the youngest generation is the future. That is absolutely true for us in Rotary.

We know that it is essential for us to bring in a new generation of younger Rotary members. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about how to attract young professionals to Rotary – but perhaps we haven’t talked enough about why they don’t stay.

There are plenty of young people, some of them youth program alumni, who do join Rotary. But when they begin families of their own, many of them leave. It isn’t hard to see why: These are young professionals who are already spending more time than they want to away from their families. No matter how much they love and value Rotary, they are not going to prioritize their Rotary service over their spouses and children.

Nor should we ever expect them to. This is why it is so important for us to find ways to welcome families into Rotary, so that Rotary and the family are never in competition for a Rotarian’s time. Whether it’s by planning service projects that involve the whole family, or providing child care during meetings, or being flexible about meeting places and times, we need to make Rotary service a viable option for those with young children.

When you welcome families into Rotary, you’re saying: Your family is not an obstacle to your Rotary service. They’re not something that has to be scheduled around. Instead of mom or dad going out to Rotary and leaving everyone else at home, Rotary goes on the family calendar. The family of Rotary is real. Those children are going to grow up seeing their parents involved in community service, and being involved in service themselves. Not only is that a great thing for the family – it’s a great thing for the Rotary club, which will be helping to nurture a new generation of active, service-minded young members.

At every stage of our lives and our careers, Rotary has something for all of us – a way to let us do more, give more, and be more. Rotary is big enough for us all.

Ron D. Burton
President, Rotary International
Trustee chair’s message, January 2014

Creating Rotary Awareness

By Frank Deaver
Rotary Club of Tuscaloosa, Alabama USA

A clever little verse was intended for promoting retail sales, but it has application to Rotary as well, especially in this month of Rotary Awareness.

He who whispers in a well

About the things he has to sell

Will never earn as many dollars

As he who climbs a tree and hollers.

Just as the successful salesman must communicate his message, Rotary will reach out to more people if we polish our own communication – if we increase Rotary Awareness of our mission by better informing members and non-members alike.

For much of Rotary Global History, our service activities were “whispered in a well.” The world knew little of our humanitarian and educational programs, and even Rotarians were largely unaware of the scope of activities of our own organization.

In his annual theme, Rotary President Frank Devlyn (2000-01) emphasized “Create Awareness.” But the ongoing implication is that awareness requires communication in something more than a whisper. Rotarians should be in agreement that Rotary is something worth shouting about. To maximize our success, we must Create Rotary Awareness!

Rotary has a mission, but Rotary also has a message. And both the mission and the message can be summarized in a single word – Service.

Creating Awareness of that service function is called Public Relations, and it starts internally, with new member orientation, meaningful induction, and mentoring in the early months of membership. It continues with Rotary Information programs, keeping even long-time members informed about the scope of world-wide membership, fellowship, and service. This “internal” public relations strengthens Rotary Awareness within our own ranks.

Public relations becomes “external” when we inform the public about Rotary. If we don’t tell them, they won’t know that Rotary provides more international scholarships than any other organization. If we don’t tell them, they won’t know that Rotarians contributed more than a half-billion dollars toward the polio eradication campaign, and that it has been Rotary manpower that delivered the vaccine to the most remote parts of the earth. If we don’t tell them, they won’t be aware of Rotary’s world peace efforts through the Rotary Centers for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution.

At the local level, Rotary Clubs sponsor community projects that serve important needs. If we don’t make those services known, their benefits cannot be fully realized. And if we don’t tell the local public about Rotary, our new-member recruitment is handicapped.

Rotary Awareness is promoted in January, but Rotary Awareness is a constant challenge. Public Relations is not just the job of a designated chairman and committee. Every Rotarian represents Rotary, and it’s the job of every dedicated Rotarian to Create Rotary Awareness.

Frank Deaver,
23 August 2007

January is Rotary Awareness Month – a time to learn more about our organization. The more we’re known for our good work, the more good work we’ll be able to do.

Because of The Rotary Foundation, people around the world know that they can depend on Rotary in their time of need. And as Rotarians, it is our responsibility to understand and promote our Foundation and help keep it strong.

The most important responsibility we have is also the simplest: It is leading by example. We cannot ask Rotarians to make our Foundation a priority if we have not made it a priority ourselves, by making our own donation.

This was the thinking behind President Ron’s idea of the “First Class”: In this Rotary year, every district governor has made a contribution, in his or her own name, to The Rotary Foundation. I believe that every Rotary leader should do the same. We cannot ask others to do what we are not willing to do ourselves.

Our goal in The Rotary Foundation has always been Doing Good in the World, and we have an organization of people with the right skills and connections to get the job done. We have earned the confidence of our communities and the world. We take our responsibilities very seriously.

We work hard to make sure that every dollar that is given to our Foundation is making a difference. How much good we can do is limited only by our imagination, our ambition, and our own willingness to keep our Foundation strong.

I know that you have the ambition and the imagination. So I ask you all to act on them: to support our Foundation yourselves, and to encourage others to do the same – so that all of us can do more good in a world that needs our help so much.

D.K. Lee
Trustee Chair 2013-14