It’s good to say “RIP…RIBI”

So as many readers of the will know this blog rarely if ever refers to the Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland as ‘RIBI’ preferring to refer to the name that is aligned with the organisation’s website domain and other social media platforms and use ‘RotaryGBI’.

A number of months ago when the domain name changed to RotaryGBI the process of preparing a blog started which was to congratulate the team at Alcester for creating a name that would now become partially meaningful to non-Rotarians. But after ‘penning’ the piece it was consigned to File13 when I realised that there wasn’t much of a story to a simple domain change in terms of creating an engaging blog.

However, that doesn’t seem to have been the a view shared by some readers of the blog. As they have picked up on the terminology being used on the blog and the fact that we generally use RotaryGBI. This prompted to get the official position – straight from the horse mouth so to speak.

So is it RIBI or RotaryGBI…well thanks to your favourite Rotary blog, you’re about to find out once and for all.

A spokesperson for Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland told RotaryBlogger, “Externally RIBI means absolutely nothing. The public at least have heard the word Rotary and if they remember it’s not in the context of a major watch manufacturer they have half an inclination that it is about trusted ‘charity’ work of some sort.

“So, our thought was to try to get our Rotarians to use the word Rotary in their language to the external world.

The spokesperson went on to explain, “For Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland we wanted to change our URL to but that was already owned by a Rotarian* so we decided to go with instead hence our social media makes use of this too although we do reference the full Association title as well as users will see with Facebook.

“With regard to information we publish, we made the decision to stop using RIBI as an acronym and to use Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland in full, thereafter Rotary on its own can be used.”

There you go then, now it’s all clear – RotaryGBI can be used, but in particular for domains, social media platforms and internal use and then we just refer to things basically as Rotary thereafter; now that makes complete sense.

If you look at the Rotary Jargon page on this site it is clear to see that Rotary has way too many acronyms – some of which are even meaningless to Regular Rots (am I allowed to use that?)  So the more the organisation can simplify things the better for ‘customers’ both internally and externally.

As any brand-guru will tell you – a brand has to become extremely well known before it can be abbreviated. Look at large UK organisations who have done it such as M&S, E&Y or RBS. These organisations operated respectively as Marks & Spencer, Ernst & Young and Royal Bank of Scotland for many years before they were rebranded to their new abbreviated selves.

So, why then does it seem that some Rotarians want to do it in the reverse direction? The move to bring the word Rotary into any references to the organisation is the correct direction of travel – and it is hoped that through this blog; the message will get out there to its many readers.

Remember, from hereon it’s Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland or RotaryGBI or just plain and simple Rotary.

As was my intention in my initial draft of this blog months ago, I will congratulations the team at Alcester for taking a sensible and modernising look at how the organisation is recognised outside the confines the various Clubs around the British Isles and getting the support of the General Council (who should also be applauded) to move things ahead and making the changes for the better.

Ultimately, it therefore seem appropriate to close this weekend’s blog with a very respectful abbreviate…RIP RIBI.

As a footnote to the main blog, which was the original domain sought by the team Alcester points to the website for the Rotary Club of Walsall and is showing on a ‘whois’ search as being owned by LBParkes & Co Ltd a commercial company which describes itself as the “UK’s longest running anodising company”. Just as a polite suggestion – could some arrangement not be made with this Club whereby RotaryGBI purchase (which appears to be available) and do a trade on – that to me would make far more sense…no? Surely that’s fair to all concerned.

Next week’s blog – “RotaryGBI six years on?”


Image: Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland logo used with the organisation’s permission

“RotaryGBI” is not “The Secretariat”

A recent post on one of the RotaryGBI social media pages highlighted a very valid point relating to typefaces and fonts being used by the organisation on some of their documentation and sites.

The point being made was in relation to accessibility by people with visual impairments and as usually happens in these situations what followed was a number of contributors with a view or a level of expertise in how the matter should be handled.


When talking about RIBI it should not be assumed that we are referring to the staff assets based at RotaryGBI headquarters

However, within literally a matter of a few hours, one of the staff from headquarters in Alcester had accessed the page; assessed the situation; taken advice and was in the process of looking at ways in which the situation could be rectified in the future.

The way in which the matter was handled and the time taken to do so simply confirmed a view held for a number of years that the team at headquarters in Alcester led by General Secretary Amanda Watkin are often the ‘unrecognised embodiment’ of the true organisation despite rarely being seen and surprisingly often criticised by many of the Regular Rots out there. In this case it was very much ‘credit where credit is due’.

With an establishment of less than 20 members of staff, the “Secretariat” is responsible for all the behind-the-scenes support and administration undertaken across the 29 Districts in these islands.

In basic and round terms, each team member at Alcester in England supports and services around 1,000 additional Rotarians each in comparison with their counterparts in the world-wide HQ in Evanston. So there is no doubt that Rotarians in GB and Ireland get good value for money in terms of their staffing resources.

From the General Secretary all the way through the organisation, they support all the committees; deal with the administration; finances; public relations; conferences; Rotary Foundation UK; online communications; assemblies; corporate partnerships; Districts and Clubs to name only a few of their responsibilities. Most of which go un-noticed by the masses.

Personal experience shows that the General Secretary’s team is dedicated, enthusiastic and committed despite working for an organisation which presents them challenges on a day-to-day basis at all levels of the organisation.

One of the greatest challenges must be the fact the staff’s “bosses” technically change every year. It cannot be easy dancing to the tune of a national leader who is only going to be around for 12 months, whilst watching over your shoulder to see the next and even the next chiefs coming in to respectively ‘rule the roost’ for the ensuing two years. There must be times when our General Secretary and the Alcester team would play less politics if they worked in 10 Downing Street. At least the boss in residence there is generally in post for around five years.

Disappointingly however, RotaryBlogger has previously been given information about Rotarians at all levels of the organisation being rude, condescending and in some cases even bullying towards the ‘hired help’ as the staff are apparently often made to feel. This, despite the fact these individuals are doing amazing work often well over and above that demanded in their job profiles. Every worker in every workplace is entitled to their dignity at work – so attitudes such as those outlined are thoroughly unacceptable and must not be condoned or tolerated in any way.

Making no excuses for this behaviour, perhaps part of the reasoning behind it is an outcome where things that are done at RIBI may not always be to everyone’s liking – and the staff are unacceptably the ‘venting posts’. It is therefore important to acknowledge that when referring to “RIBI” we make the differential between “the staff” in Alcester from the various Committees; the Executive; all of the Office Bearers and Chairs. As it is the latter who yields the real ‘decision making’ powers at headquarters and not the staff who are simply asked to deliver upon the various requests and desires as laid down by the General Council and Executive of the day. Ergo it is those in positions of authority who should be challenged and scrutinised not the ‘messengers’.

The excellent example this week of that member of the team who sat up, paid attention and decided to do something about the issues being raised is far more testament to the attitudes I have witnessed when dealing with staff at HQ.

So the next time you think of the staff at RotaryGBI head office – think of them as a team of individuals who undertake an excellent level of service on behalf of over fifty thousand Rotarians in these islands every day and see them as a value for money asset to Rotary in these islands. And make the differential between them and the elected members.

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Image by Malcolm Espinosa by CC