Rotary International District 1080
Home | Membership Committee | Extension News
ROTARY IN THE 21st CENTURY
Since I took on the role of 'Extension Officer' I have been asked on a number of occasions exactly what this means. It doesn't, of course, have anything to do with building regulations or for that matter ladies hair!! Put simply the role involves seeking opportunities to start new clubs and guiding them through the start-up procedure through to Charter and beyond.
Unfortunately there are clubs around the country that are struggling to maintain the perceived critical mass number of 25 members (25 being the minimum membership number required for a new club to receive its Charter). RIBI have carried out extensive research into declining membership and the main findings suggest that younger potential members often find us 'too old', 'elitist'; 'expensive' and the structure of our meetings is too formal. At least one club has closed in 1080 in recent years and we have to ensure that this does not happen again.
Many of our clubs embrace practices that have been largely unchanged for many decades. If we were able to rewind to say the 1970's and attend a Rotary meeting, I suspect it would not be too different to what most clubs experience today. In itself there is nothing wrong with this as individual members are very comfortable with what we do and I would never suggest that existing clubs should change their ways. However it has become clear that we need an alternative approach if we are to attract the next generation of Rotarians
We all believe in 'Service above Self'; otherwise we would not be Rotarians. I believe firmly that there are still people out there who would embrace this ethos given the opportunity.
So how do we capture these people and bring them into the Rotary movement?
A new club would be able to set its own rules and would be allowed to consider whether it needs to: -
- Have a meal at every meeting.
- Maintain a formal dress code.
- Use a Rotary bell.
- Say grace.
- Toast the monarch.
- Use chains of office / jewels.
- Display banners.
- Report visits to other clubs.
- Final toast.
The inaugural club members will have to embrace the aims and objectives of the Rotary movement but they can, within reason, decide for themselves how this is to be achieved.
So what might a 21st century Rotary Club look like?
- More husband / wife teams.
- An equal gender split.
- Younger members.
- Regular, less formal meetings, with perhaps one meal meeting per month with a speaker.
- Meetings may be short or long depending on individual Rotarians time availability.
- Members accepted from different walks of life with up to 5 members being allowed from any industry / professional Group.
- Support for Community Projects and Rotary Foundation
- Costs kept to a minimum
- Clubs will still appoint a President, Secretary and Treasurer annually.
This is by no means a definitive list – as stated previously the members will decide.
I am currently carrying out a review of the whole of District 1080 to identify area where there is potential for new clubs and local clubs will be kept in the loop if they want to be involved. Please believe me when I say that no club needs to feel threatened and I would like to think that existing clubs will support and provide help and guidance to any new club during its formative stage.
The latest idea to come out of RI / RIBI is the formation of 'e-clubs' which will be for the very busiest amongst us but who still want to give something back to society – but more about this in a later edition of 1080 News.
District 1080 Extension Officer.