Over the year or so that RotaryBlogger.co.uk has been in existence, despite what many may think it has tried to play the role of ‘critical friend‘ to the organisation by way of getting Regular Rots thinking as well as challenging and testing the leadership on the policies, procedures and practices taking place as part of Rotary International’s day-to-day operation.
And although each individual blog gets a reassuringly high number of hits within the first few hours of release I have often wondered if anyone really cares what’s actually going on at the higher end operations and affairs of the organisation.
Do Regular Rots have that much interest in the organisation beyond that of their own Club and their own circle of Rotary friends?
Sure, there will be a proportion of individuals within each Club who are interested in serving on District (and do) – but that proportion is substantially reduced when it comes to serving at a national RotaryGBI level. And don’t even look at the percentile of Club members involved on a worldwide basis.
There are of course those we refer to in this blog as the ‘Career Rotarians‘ out there. The ones who have their eyes well and truly fixed on getting to the upper echelons on the organisation regardless of how they need to do it. Thankfully these Career Rots are in the minority as they do nothing to help anyone other than themselves. That said, to be fair to them unlike many of their fellow Club members they actually are willing to put their heads above the parapet where others’ wouldn’t.
But bringing the light back to Regular Rots – do they really care about RotaryGBI or even Rotary International in Evanston, USA?
The recent series of blogs on the RotaryGBI Presidential Campaign attracted some of the highest readership of any blogs in the shortest time since RotaryBlogger.co.uk started – but at the end of the day, the result was no different from that promoted and ultimately desired by the Selection Advisory Committee.
Credit-where-credit-is-due, Amanda Watkin as General Secretary and Peter Davey as this year’s President in Great Britain and Ireland who have definitely tried to listen to feedback from those making their voices heard through the various platforms available (including through this blog).
An example of the ‘listening organisation’ was the video uploads of the talking-head Presidential candidate videos during the recent campaign. Undoubtedly a great step forward in the right direction and massively better than the previously tedious and boring task of wading through candidates CVs as if interviewing for a senior position in your multi-national organisation.
But again, how many Regular Rots actually viewed those videos far less read the CVs (one of which was over 15 pages long!) in order to take a view on who may eventually be in charge or the overall organisation and how it was being run. How many actually care who is going to be their President?
We’ve previously discussed on this blog the matter of District Governor visits – and how many sitting Club Presidents effectively bribe and corrupt their members by any means to “please turn up next week” due to the imminent DG drop-in on the Club. Practically on hands and knees in some case to prevent what could otherwise be an embarrassingly low turnout to hear the District boss.
Yes, I may be taking my usual RotaryBlogger artistic licence to some extent – but in actuality for Clubs it’s not that far removed from the truth. So surely this anecdotally demonstrates the level of interest at Club level into the administration of the organisation by the Regular Rot.
The world has changed even in the last 25 years. Status is less important anymore. Being the local solicitor, doctor or police inspector isn’t actually that impressive in today’s society.
Ironically for Rotary, what appears far more important nowadays is what difference you are making to your local society and what you are giving back. But now it’s about how much you challenge what’s going in your community and are willing to do something about it if it’s deemed not fall into the socially accepted norms.
Doesn’t Rotary sit perfectly in that fit?
So what’s the problem? Well the answer to that question is that the organisation still seems to be hung up on hierarchy, position, status, top-tables, cap-doffing, regalia and ultimately snobbery. Not to mention the other processes and procedures associated with membership organisations of past generations.
And this could be why more and more people are turning off having any interest in how the organisation is run; focusing more on their own Club and what they an do in their own community.
I was recently speaking with a serving District where we discussed some of the challenges the organisation was currently facing and trying to address. He so succinctly put it thus:
It is easier to give birth than raise the dead.”
This is the same District Governor who has taken the view that he is available to speak to Clubs in his District – but if they don’t invite him or ultimately want him, he’s not going to foist himself upon the Club in the way most of his predecessors have. I think he should be applauded for taking a position that recognises not all Clubs are interested in the affairs of District and is encouraging existing Clubs to support and assist the development of the ‘new generation‘ Clubs.
I’ve been informed that these newer Clubs are consistently asking the ‘why?’ question? But they aren’t necessarily waiting on the answers – they are just going off and doing things individually and differently…
- Why are we toasting Her Majesty the Queen?
- Why are we saying grace if we are non-Religious organisation?
- Why are do we have to eat lunch/dinner before our meetings?
- Why are we meeting in the local hotel?
- Why do we have to have a formal night to meet?
- Why are we ‘fining’ members under the guise of raising charity funds?
- Why are we no longer about business networking?
These new Clubs are not toasting anyone – not even Rotary (shock horror). They understand that Great Britain and Ireland is now a multi-culture/multi-faith country and therefore don’t bring any religion into their meetings at all. They are meeting in their local Costa Coffee or their local pub – thus accommodating the new ‘coffee shop generation’ or the people who only have time to stop in for ‘a pint’ after work instead of committing to a full sit-down meal.
Question…How does the District Governor or RotaryGBI President ‘address’ the Regular Rots in Costa Coffee? Well, I’m guessing they don’t! I’m pretty damn sure the reputations of the Regular Rots using the local coffee shop for their meeting is such that they would point blank refuse to be ‘addressed’ while getting tucked into their medium, skinny-gingerbread cappuccino. I certainly know I would!
So while some may see it as a thin end of the wedge – others like me see it as the start of the next generation of Rotary. Done in a new way. Oh, and all this is over and above the new ways in which eClubs are now starting to embed themselves into the organisation by way of being increasingly viewed as real clubs by other non-eClub Regular Rots.
So in reply to my own question posed at the start of this blog – the more I speak to people; the more I listen to many established as well as new Rotarians; the more I read in social media platforms; the more I see of the affairs of the organisation…the more I begin to think that the current bastion of suits, ties and chains who are clinging to the decks of the Good Ship RIBI the more I feel they could very well be the last.
This isn’t so much because there will be any grant-master-plan revolution to overthrow them or torpedo the ship – but on a much more basic level – Regular Rots really aren’t that fussed about how the organisation is being run as long as they are doing good work in their local and international communities and that the subs don’t begin to get ridiculously high.
Therefore the final question posed on this Easter Blog…If the very vast majority of Regular Rots don’t really care about the ivory towers of Rotary then is that necessarily a bad thing?