Is Rotary a unique opportunity?

In this the first of a series of blogs we ask the questions that every member of the organisation will ask in their journey through one of the most prestigious organisations in the world.

The other week I met with a good friend for lunch. One of the first announcements he made was that he had left Rotary and he said it was like a weight being lifted from his shoulders.  Now this was a person who had helped start a new club and over the years had been involved in taking part in reviews for RIBI so he had a good idea of the organisation and the system. We did not really go into the precise detail for his leaving we had many discussions over the months, and he had spoken with colleagues and I did not want to go over old ground. In our discussions over the months he had  left me in no doubt that he had become disillusioned with the organisation and it’s ability to adapt to the changing world. I came to the conclusion right or wrong that he reckoned he had done his bit to try to bring about change had got his ideas knocked back so many times that he felt the battle was not worth it. He had found lots of other things to do using his extensive experience in business starting companies and using his marketing and sales skills and I knew he did not give in lightly.

I came away from our lunch somewhat concerned . Here was a good Rotarian who had a lot to offer, had a lot of respect for the organisation and was  still supporting the Rotary Foundation but could see no future requirement for his skills and talents and as we talked even less for the organisation within the UK and Ireland. Was he right I wondered to give up and move on? What was so wrong with the organisation from his point of view to bring him to this decision?

In recent discussions with other Rotarians in a similar position I realised that his and their thinking was along much the same lines and some had not taken high office they were members of clubs who could see their club failing and were disheartened.

He had left Rotary and he said it was like a weight being lifted from his shoulders.”

As you do, if you are concerned about something you think further and speak with a few people to balance your view. Should I be alarmed.

Time and again sadly I came up against the same opinions, some members were taking over being President of their club for a second or even a third time but had no club members to take other posts. Others turned up at meetings now when there was a good speaker, some turned up each week because they had friends at the club and just enjoyed a chat and a meal once a week. There were others who would turn out to shake a bucket or help with a charity event but that was as far as  their involvement went. All of them realised they needed new members to freshen the club and all of them like myself think it’s a great organisation that needs to modernise fast to make it relevant to modern day living.

How many others will take flight and offer their skills and expertise to other organisations outside Rotary?

So on their behalf I did some more thinking and came up with a few thoughts and of course questions.

Is the organisation changing, is it adapting to a changing world, do the people leading the organisation see the need for change and understand what needs to be done? Indeed do they have the vision, courage, leadership skills, enthusiastic devotion and organisational ability to bring much needed change about?

Some of us have been asking these questions for years now and the more we ask the more urgent our questions become.

Before suggestions are made it is perhaps worth reflecting on Rotary the organisation in the United Kingdom and Ireland referred to as Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland RIBI. The structure is unique within the Rotary organisation in that there is an association of clubs forming various committees and groups at the top of which is a General Council consisting of the District Governors representing the clubs across RIBI all led by an elected President with a team around them.

This structure is administered by a team based in Alcester known as the Secretariat.

With such a unique organisation and structure come unique opportunities not on offer anywhere else within Rotary. So in many respects members of Rotary within RIBI have two bites of the cherry. They can engage the facilities of Rotary HQ in Evanston Illinois and also what’s on offer at RIBI.

With these unique opportunities comes a responsibility to engage and add value for members within their field of support. RIBI have various committees within their remit to facilitate many aspects of the Rotary Clubs activities within these islands.

“With such a unique organisation and structure come unique opportunities not on offer anywhere else within Rotary.”

Unquestionably the most important of these committees is Membership Development and Retention closely followed by Public Image, then The Rotary Foundation, Community Service, International Service, Vocational Service and Youth Service.

Within all of these committees/groups/teams call them what you will are truly devoted and passionate Rotarians tasked with supporting Districts, Clubs and Members within RIBI. They are or should be tasked with changing mindset and lifting morale, enthusiasm and motivation. I reckon this support is required more now than ever but I’m struggling to find it. The line of communication is from the committee to district then to club and of course the most important person in Rotary the grass roots club member.

I believe if we were to ask many club members, who are the backbone of the organisation but have never been called to high office, what value RIBI adds to their experience as a member and if as a result they would be more engaged in the organisation the answer would almost always be a negative.

So lets face it, the stark truth, something somewhere is wrong and not working, something is fundamentally wrong.  Is it in the execution of the plans of these committees, is it the communication from RIBI to the members after all the chain is long and a link could easily break, result: information and engagement lost. Does RIBI have a pragmatic communication plan, is it planning new and innovative ways to alter mindset to open minds of present members to accept new ideas in the second decade of this century?

Something somewhere is wrong and not working, something is fundamentally wrong.”

So I return to my friend who I had met for lunch and of course discussed Rotary. He is no longer part of the team but he so wanted to be to play his part to help Rotary grow. He was never in a competition for recognition for himself or his club he just wanted to get on and do a good job for Rotary but let’s face it he was rejected and dejected and if you are reading this I am sure you will be concerned as there are so many like him in the organisation. He was a talent we could ill afford to lose, there are a lot more like him so it is beholden on us to try and keep such members, to engage and motivate them to spread the Rotary message of doing good in the world. We say we are people of action but that begins at home so let’s see if the people of action can take the right actions to keep good members, enage the present ones and be attractive enough to encourage people to join us.

This blogpost was written by Allan Berry, a Rotarian from District 1080 and former Editor of RIBI’s National Magazine. In a future blog Allan will take a look at ways and ideas of engaging members present and prospective.

If you are interested in writing a one-off post or become a regular contributor to RotaryBlogger.co.uk please feel free to get in touch. (Please note that anonymous posts or posts under pseudonyms will not be published.)

 

Images in order of appearance by David Bush by CC

35 thoughts on “Is Rotary a unique opportunity?

  1. A thought provoking piece which is also disturbing … I know at least a dozen Rotarians that feel the same way and have left Rotary behind with relief … As you say RIBI should be outstanding in the Rotary World as it is unique … It needs to genuinely listen to grass roots and act accordingly. … Well done Allan

    I have also heard so many Rotarians say that they are not as proud of Rotary any more. There are still those who are staying with reticence for another year. Me included!

    1. Allan Berry says:

      Martin thanks for the feedback and support. RIBI should be outstanding and we hope to explore that in the coming weeks. Let’s hope that people are listening but not only that they are hearing what we say. I am in the same position as my colleague and now yourself Martin. Let’s see what happens but words need to be followed by actions and fast the clock is ticking.

  2. Good thoughts Allan…here are my observations:

    Yesterday I interviewed a 30 year old male for a position with our charity and explained that I was a Rotarian and that Rotary was a big part of what we do and how we do it.

    ‘Never heard of Rotary,’ was the immediate reply, ‘What do they do?’ I explained but the point is that rotary no longer holds that place in society it did, Rotarians are not the business people or the key figures in communities they used to be, lawyers, bank managers (remember them).

    Whilst I am proud to be a member of rotary, very proud actually and deem it a privilege to be granted membership and all that entails and makes me responsible for, so many others see rotary as having lost it raison detre.

    I still feel we make a difference, a significant difference but others do not see that. Our membership dwindles and rarely do we sponsor/mentor new members any more, just advertise on the back of a bus.

    So many who join, leave because it is not for them…it never was going to be.

    The young man I interviewed was interested in both my charity and Rotary, he sees the link between a world wide organisation and making a difference.

    The trick is to make new members feel they are part of an organisation that is special (not exclusive) and that they are special within it and can give service which befits their abilities and interests. I watched Dennis Spiller address yesterday, let’s hope he has it right but only got a year before someone else gets ‘a go’.

    Maybe I might have one, maybe two new members. Another friend asked me to get 20 people together to form a new club as forming a satellite club is a complete nightmare and like drawing teeth with a pick.

    People who are not in rotary either never heard of us or know the problems experienced by us and so many other organisations. Believe it or not we are not unique!!

    1. Allan Berry says:

      Thank you for your feedback Adrian and your young friend is not in the minority I’m afraid. If young people have any idea about Rotary it is usually middle aged and old men collecting dosh for charity.My apologies if I led you or anyone else to think that Rotary is unique it isn’t in this modern world. What is unique is the RIBI structure within Rotary and so far we have not exploited that unique opportunity. If we had we would be growing rapidly and really embracing all the opportunities this modern world has to offer.

  3. Paul Hickson says:

    Allan
    We benefited from having President Dennis Spiller attend our first District Council meeting earlier this month where he participated in a question and answer session on the challenges facing Rotary in GB and Ireland.
    His outline of Rotary 2 which has now be released on a you tube has generated considerable debate and interest such that as membership extension officer I am now receiving regular requests for support from Clubs

    I have always found the RIBI membership team supportive and whilst they /we will never get everything right and they/we can always improve I have seen more enthusiasm from Clubs to embrace change in four weeks than I have in four years-necessity is the mother of invention.

    Starting new Rotary clubs is not the whole answer of course retention of members must be a priority and the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive as frustrated members may prefer to be part of a new club – is that the answer for your friend ?

    1. Allan Berry says:

      Paul good evening and thank you for your comments. My colleague has left the building I’m afraid and found other things to use his many talents. There is no silver bullet to remedy these issues/challenges but something needs to be done and fast. It is all good talking about it but action is required now. It would be really encouraging to learn that the grass roots Rotarian the backbone of the organisation is engaged but from my observations we have a vey long way to go.

    2. Paul, i am afraid RIBI membership team has overspent, set up a misguided “champions” structure (which has not worked) ignoring the existing structure and failed to work with or engage the majority of clubs … The result? Loss of membership!

      So, I cannot agree with your observations.

      Likewise with the PI activity … Too costly with little involvement with clubs or the public. Missed opportunities and lack of responsiveness lead to disappointment.

      You therefore have to ask why the national teams exist if they cost so much and are not effective.

      1. says:

        Martin it would be good to hear from the RIBI Membership team/committee/group regarding their ROI. But really it is not all about the money although it is essential. The return on investment concerns money and time spent. Essentially it is HOW all of this has been done since we can all look like “busy fools”. Where are the results? No other group within Rotary has a team to help districts and clubs like this so what has been happening. We are running well behind other countries in terms of new members but should be well out in front given the resources we have. What’s gone wrong?

  4. Brigitte Faubert says:

    I feel that the biggest barrier in RIBI is the District structure. The line of communication to the RIBI committee is much too long, as any request for help or opportunity for input or service seems to get stuck at District level. While we have DGs who concentrate on their visits to San Diego rather than actually encouraging their AGs to get out into the Clubs, we will continue to experience a resistance to change. District Governors are the main conduit for communication upwards and downwards, and they need to be leaders rather than ciphers, publicising both within the District and within RIBI what good things are happening.

    Some clubs want to do a good job, but are hampered by lack of training or resource. If the skills to recruit new members or do good projects are not within the club then District should gently step in and offer to help – that’s where AGs can make a huge difference.

    Also some Clubs value their independence and don’t want to engage either locally, at District level or nationally. That’s all well and good if they are serving their community and progressing the object of Rotary, but if they are merely dining clubs who collect subs and rattle a can at Christmas then they have ceased to be an attractive proposition to prospective new members and old Father Time will see them off very shortly – to the detriment of their community.

    I’m sad that some really caring Rotarians have decided to leave. It is Rotary’s loss because they will continue to serve outside Rotary, I am sure. Concentrating on running after new members when we can’t keep the old ones is a huge waste of energy that we would spend better on service.

    But it is not Alcester’s fault, it is down to each and every one of us to take action. If we can’t find what we need in our Own Club or District we should find another that more closely meets our needs and interests, if we are happy individually then I am convinced that prospective new members will see that we are good people to know rather than boring old f***s. (Present reading company excepted of course?!)

    1. Allan Berry says:

      Brigitte how nice to hear from you. It is essential to engage the grass roots member and I am now one of them. It can be done with action from the centre and we will be exploring that over the next few months. However as you say if the communication chain is missing a link then the grass roots member does not get connected and engaged. Without that connection we will not get any actions from the words. I get the communication link from the centre to DG’s to AG’s to Club Presidents to members and somewhere it’s going wrong. On top of that we need the ideas, actions, projects etc etc to be conveyed first. If there is little or nothing to begin with you will get little or nothing at the end of the line. The opportunity is unique so let’s exploit it.

    2. Brigitte, i am a solid, passionate and active Rotarian who has introduced a significant number of members but struggling to see your point. It is all to easy to blame the individual and ignore the effectiveness of the national and district. I really enjoy being a member of my club.

      In the UK we are an Association of clubs and individuals are members of Rotary International so we are not a “centralist” organisation. This means that RIBI has to work WITH and FOR clubs and remember that, whilst we are all volunteers (I am generally happy with the secretariat) it is absolutely crucial to engage the grass roots otherwise it becomes an organisation of elite groups, self serving agendas and little incentive to have a collective conscience and pride.

      This week I have posted on social media a comment from DG Steve Harrington in D5610 USA – who declared on social media “As Governor, I am here to inspire not to dictate. I am here to serve you not to be served” …

      If only all DG’s and national officers / teams followed this shining example we would find that pride and acceptance emerge possibly giving rise to retention. In fact, the new DG in our district has started his year as a bully, arrogantly expecting his team to serve him and creating a distaste and disengagement. Ignoring the members who put him there, he came back from San Diego with his “god” gene firmly implanted.

      That is why I am, sadly, out if here if nothing changes.

  5. says:

    Brigitte

    You said “While we have DGs who concentrate on their visits to San Diego rather than actually encouraging their AGs to get out into the Clubs, we will continue to experience a resistance to change”

    I don’t know whether you know it or not but a District Governor cannot take up that position unless they go to San Diego.

    I take Allan’s point about RIBI, but change has to start at RI, and in that respect I agree with Brigitte in as much as why are we still having an RI Assembly?

    Before I became DG of District 1190 I had to attend San Diego, and to be fair all 29 Governors and their significant others had a good time but I do question whether it was, and still is, needed, or is it like lots of other Rotary ‘traditions’ – “we’ve always done it that way”.

    Before our Assembly got under way in San Diego we had around an hour of Past this that and the others being paraded on stage and no doubt being funded – as we were – by Rotary. What a complete waste of time, money and effort!

    Each year we launch a new theme – why? Ask your club members what this year’s theme is and see how many know.

    Whilst many would argue that Service Above Self is still relevant I’m not so sure as 112 years later it means very little to younger people. To me “Ordinary People doing Extraordinary Things” is far more 21st century.

    So let’s start being radical from the top. Scrap the RI Assembly and the millions of dollars it costs – it has no relevance in the 21st Century.

    I too watched Dennis Spiller’s video presentation and something struck a chord with me.

    With an average age of 75 plus existing clubs aren’t going to survive as Anno Domini takes over but one idea can work and that is involving more spouses/partners in clubs.

    When I was DG, one of the District clubs was on the verge of extinction but it went down the route of family involvement and is now thriving.

    My own club recently introduced open meetings when family and friends are invited to listen to an interesting and I mean ‘interesting’ speaker, and although it’s early days we think we may have attracted at least two new members – fingers crossed, and the dynamics of the club have changed. Some don’t like it but most do, as it was they who requested it in a club survey.

    This blog has shown a habit of being critical of some of the Rotary practices past and present – and rightly so, but we are where we are.

    The time has come for some POSITIVE THINKING from people who care about this great organisation that continues to do so much good at home and overseas, or that too will be a thing of the past.

    1. says:

      As ever Ron you make some valuable points and i know you are passionate about Rotary. Thanks for the contribution it is appreciated. it also looks as if you and your colleagues are doing all you can to keep Rotary alive in your region and will leave a legacy of Rotary in good shape. Regarding your point of negativity it is something I tried to avoid. However it is not easy to put something right until it has been worked out where it has gone wrong. Most Rotarians look for leadership from the front people putting their actions where their words come from. in past years that has not happened and to be quite honest at the moment we’ve got the words but are short on action. The people in power have just 9 months to make a difference and it is essential they hit the ground running. that has not happened as it seems like a quiet stroll to the finishing line. To put it bluntly if you want to make a difference you have to take the action and we are waiting…waiting…waiting.

  6. says:

    Always eternally grateful to Ron for being such a constructive and patient support when as a comparatively new Rotarian with graphic design and marketing skills (but no web experience) I got ‘dumped’ with doing our club’s website some 9 years ago. Never ceased to admire him for never allowing power to corrupt or lose respect for the grass roots, despite rising to dizzy heights. So not surprising I agree with most of what he says. Thoroughly endorse his urging for POSITIVE THINKING. Far too much time wasted on negativity, going round in circles, blaming faceless ‘others’. None of us is that perfect to always get it right! And great to see Martin’s positive post on social media. Absolutely, good leaders don’t dictate, they inspire. And to do that they need to know their troops well. Listen, respect, enable and enrich!

    Completely empathise with feelings of despair and exhaustion felt by others, having experienced too much horrendously self-indulgent behaviour (at all levels!) that can only lead to destruction. If we REALY care, the only way to effect change for good is to build on the positives.

    Being an International organisation is one of Rotary’s great selling points, particularly in these troubled times where evil dictators threaten the very existence of our planet. Lets not forget Rotary’s role in the founding of the UN. Not yet perfect, but better than bombing the hell out of the planet and spreading hate in pursuit of power. So little objection to the notion of Assemblies per se, provided they are value for money, offer a genuine opportunity to SHARE ideas, give constructive support beneficial to the membership and nurture good leaders. Scrap the pomp and ceremony excesses, money-wasting parades of the great and the good, meaningless slogans and accompanying horrid merchandise. Seems one has to be a natural leader in the first place to come back from San Diego untainted by the notion that “being very important” with the ability to pass directives wholesale (or skewed to suit their own ends) down the line is what makes a good leader! Stop it, its dangerous!!!! DGs and Presidents are merely custodians of our organisation for a year……. their job is to leave it in better shape than they found it. And down to grass roots to ensure the right people get sent to San Diego and even before that!

    Believe it or not, we have made progress. Great resources from RI for marketing Rotary in a productive and professional manner, just don’t overdo the flag waving, terribly important images and concentrate on the ACTION! Great service from the Secretariat at Alcester under Amanda’s leadership and a real will to effect positive change for good among most of the membership leaders. Real pity that RIBI Assembly was separated into leadership and “others”. Too many opportunities to attract the wrong “leaders” as there is still too high a percentage of members who joined Rotary ‘to enhance their CVs’ and be ‘terribly important’. But more than one way to skin a cat. KEEP POSITIVE!! Best way of getting the cream to rise to the top.

    1. Paul Hickson says:

      Great comments Liz focusing on the positive must be the right approach without losing sight of what needs to be improved.

    2. says:

      Thank you for looking at the Blog Liz it is appreciated. I’m not so sure however that you get the drift since you say “Believe it or not, we have made progress” and I suppose we have but I am really struggling to work out how and where. The points I was making and obviously not very successfully was that given the set up within RIBI we should be way ahead of where we are. No other country has this set up. The so called experts on various committees advising and showing the way. One must wonder what they are the wins. that is why I say we have a wonderful opportunity and that’s positive. Take the positives by all means and use them. Engaging the grass roots members is what it is all about. That hasn’t happened as I recall. We have little wins here and there but that’s by far not enough a lot more needs to be done we’ve only just ;eft the starting line.

  7. Mark Stewart-Clarke says:

    Excellent comments Liz, one of my beefs is how we ‘train’ new members or in fact don’t. We bring them into our Clubs but what do we tell them very little in my experience outside of the weekly meeting. Simple things, Foundation is our Charity, membership is the responsibility of every member, ensure they understand what RIBI and RI offer respectively not all at the same sitting though, at one meeting in my Club was discussing Foundation one member of 15 years asked who Paul Harris was, need I say more. When someone is put forward for any post in the Club, that the role is fully explained, that anyone going for President knows it is a 4 year role and loose the ‘my year’ attitude. This applies through District roles to, as you say President or DG are only custodians for the year. While I am a bit of a Rotary nerd its because I am proud of it and wanted to find out how it works those of us who feel that way need to pass it on with a passion we are all custodians of Rotary for the future.

    1. says:

      It’s good that you visited the Blog Mark and much appreciated. Let’s not fall into a false sense of security here though. As I’ve said to colleagues there is a whole lot more we can do and it needs to be done fast very fast.
      I’m not so sure I can go along with “training” new members. Perhaps we should train the present members first to change the mindset. It’s also worth remembering as well that we are all volunteers and it’s not our paid profession. I admire your passion and the desire to pass on your knowledge and experiences we do need a lot more of that enthusiasm injected into all our members. The question is how we go about it in this modern age.

      1. Paul Hickson says:

        Allan
        When you say a lot needs to be done and done fast can you clarify what you think that is as it would help to move matters forward
        Thanks

        1. One thing that can be done immediately is to allow Rotaractors to become Rotarians at no cost for the first year … They would not have to join a local club but could either become a satellite club or better still allow their Rotaract club to have dual status. This would bring about a generation shift at minimal cost to RIBI … Cheaper than the monet wasted already with Rotary Go!

          Also, really tackle those clubs that do not wish to recognise diversity and women members … Tackling this will remove the perception of “old men who lunch” and put in place an active “no gender” campaign.

          Reform RIBI to reintroduce the business structure previously rejected and do away with the Cen Council … Run the operation by stripping out costs by selling Alchester (renting something more purposeful locally) .. Remove the national teams and have specialist support from Secretariat. Close the magazine or out it online only.

          Improve the shop so clubs can use better marerials for attracting members

          Tackle retention by a stategy of contacting ALL leavers and establish why and if they would have stayed in Rotary if all things challenging were overcome. … use eClubs in District to accomodate some of these.

          Set up a communication network that actually hears the grass roots genuinely.

          Just to name a few Paul Hickson

        2. says:

          Paul, I have replied to Kevin Walsh on this below and notice some grammar and spelling mistakes in the reply, apologies. I think you should ask any grass roots Rotarian how they think they will achieve 250 clubs in a good period of time. The big question they will ask is how are we going to even begin to do that? They don’t know? that’s where a communications plan comes in. I’m sure it is there somewhere and I will explore that in future blogs. We’re up and running now let’s start to sprint.

        3. I would like to ask you Paul Hickson … what would you do to retain valuable members like Mac Purcell, Ron Duxbury, Allan Berry, me and get back other who have left Rotary dissapointed, like James Martin. Kris Alexander, Paul Jackson and others

          1. Paul Hickson says:

            Martin I would not presume to know how Rotary retains existing members or those who leave. That is because everyone comes to Rotary with very different expectations and as a volunteer organisation it is inevitable that it isn’t always going to be possible to meet them all.
            The frustrations can be at Club District RIBI or RI level or a combination of some or all of them.
            I of course share those frustrations at different times but essentially they have not reached the levels sometimes expressed here. Perhaps my expectations are not as high or I accept that everyone is doing their best. When I see the projects Rotary clubs achieve I am always in awe so we must be doing something right.
            I don’t know whether the Rotary 2 ambition is achievable but seems to make sense to give it our best shot and perhaps provide an opportunity for those Rotarians who have left to return.

          2. Paul, having been a Rotarian for some 20 years and a District Officer [in different roles and a voting member of the executive] for around 12 years I think my expectations have changed over time .. I am very happy with my club [the eClub of East Anglia is flourishing! 🙂 ] and my involvement in District up to now has been rewarding, as has my involvement with the Secretariat in helping to bring about the DMS in this nation .. some time ago the Rotary Blogger aka James Martin commented that he wished he had never experienced hig office as he got more dismayed .. that resonates.

            I have engaged with many many Rotarians in my capacity as the eClub founder and been involved in new experiences with helping clubs and districts use eRotary to the benefit of membership … I have probably introduced over 50 people to Rotary and retained at least 20 members over the past three years yet I still feel that unless the organisation at national level stop moving deckchairs on the Titanic we will lose even more members. None of my membership recruitment activity has been achieved through RIBI involvement.

            With regard to all those mentioned in my post [and others] they are ALL seasoned troopers and active in Rotary at club and distirct level – I know very few are unhappy with Club and District simply the RIBI stance.

            Being in awe of Rotarians do is not really assoociated with my comments .. I too am always in awe at the work done by indiviuals who, as Ron Duxbury says quite rightly are “ordinary people doing extraordinary things” this is what probably keeps some of us in Rotary despite the national frustrations. Most is done without the intervention of RIBI at all.

            So in summary Paul, I think you are expressing a view which I can appreciate but you fail to pass opinion on how to change things.

  8. Kevin Walsh says:

    It’s good that we are discussing the uniqueness of Rotary in these islands for we do have personal and professional support for what we do. However, in truth, leadership for change has to come from Club Presidents, District Governors and their teams especially Assistant Governors.

    The challenge going forward using the Rotary2 concept and the goal of 250 new Rotary clubs is for the RIBI teams to be more proactive in supporting Districts and Rotarians, particularly those who still need to grasp the nettle of change; to be more thorough in tracking progress; to share good practice more widely; for the RIBI teams to work together more closely to help promote the modern face of Rotary.

    So please, come and help us, tell us about the great things you are doing in your communities that we don’t already know about. Agitate in your districts, ask about the development plans that are being prepared and how you can help shape or implement them. We need everyone involved because as we all know the legacy of Rotary in these islands is in our hands.

    The various RIBI teams continue to support district and individual Rotarians when requested. In recent years the teams have also worked alongside Rotary International to update guidance documents and produced on-line training material. We have encouraged the development of champions and enthusiasts at the grass roots. The RI Coordinator teams have been working with district teams to help prepare comprehensive action plans.

    Where district teams have embraced change and engaged with grass root enthusiasm we see the benefits with new clubs (mainly satellites) being formed. These new groups of Rotarians are taking on board all of the innovation and flexibility that has been made available to us in recent years. So we are starting to see a return in the work that has been put in over recent years, albeit that it isn’t as widespread as it could or should be.

    Member involvement is imperative and you are correct, the ‘system’ needs to allow for voices to be heard – the good ideas and positive solutions are what will make the difference; blocks to communication have to be removed and that includes not only information up and down between RIBI and District but members taking a bit of time to consume the publications that are put out.

    We have a fantastic legacy and history to springboard from in Rotary and there is still a serious need to support our communities. We need to continuously evolve and promote the new ways that exist in Rotary for new generations to become People of Action too!

    1. says:

      Good morning Kevin and than you for dropping by to read the Blog and an even bigger thank you for responding. I’m not too sure what you are trying to tell us though. I will be moving on to review the various committees within RIBI in future blogs and must say at the moment it is not looking as if the review will be all that good. Please correct me if I am wrong but the RIBI Membership committee have already spent a reasonable amount of money on Rotary GO. Indeed some Rotarians voted with their feet and did GO. Everything is in a name, what was the ROI I wonder? Now we have Rotary 2 withe the prospect of 250 new clubs in what period of time. If I was cynical I could ask what happened to Rotary 1? Surely the membership committee should be leading the way here. Hitting the ground running from July1? Let’s imagine one grass roots member and call them Sean Bloggs of the Rotary Club of Nether Wallop. They have been a member of Rotary for a number of years and have had the membership issue beaten into them for what seems like forever. He/she feels very guilty in that they have done almost nothing to get new members since in truth they really don’t know who to. what are you doing to help him and his conscience since he does really want to pass on to successors a good vibrant club or even a Rotary club which is active in his town. How is he going to go about addressing this he keeps being told he should and the RIBI Committee keep telling then they should but they don’t really know where to start. they are looking for answers from your personal and professional support. They have tried various initiatives and are looking for help and advice, how will you help them? However, you appear to have turned the tables around and are asking them what help they want and in truth Sean Bloggs does not know. What is on offer to help him to the goal of 250 clubs? In truth the RIBI Membership committee should be well on the way to come to the aid of these Rotarians and club instead of asking them to GO. Let’s explore this in a positive proactive manner in the upcoming months. Sean bloggs really wants to be one of the “People of Action” he just doesn’t know how.

    2. Kevin … “So please, come and help us, tell us about the great things you are doing in your communities that we don’t already” … this starement says it all!

      Where is the engagement? Where is the conversation? Where is the discussion?

      Nope just a one way request to come and help you …. Well let me ask you about coming and haloing us, share with us, discuss with us and engage with us …

      Your team is there is serve the membership, not the other way around!

      This is what is fundamentally wrong!

      1. says:

        Thank you Martin. As ever you cut through all the debris and get straight to the nub of the issue and it is fundamental.
        We do get an awful lot of ivory towers and solipsism but lets hope we are breaking all this down.

  9. Peter Davey says:

    Perhaps I can help Rtn Sean Bloggs of Nether Wallop by explaining what has been going on recently. The RI Coordinator team has been working in tandem with and as part of the RIBI committee. (Something that I have been dtrrmined to see – RI appointees and RIBI all working together). The Coordinators and their assistants (13 people so roughly one between 2 districts) met with most district leadership continuity teams last year twice. The first meeting was to agree the current membership profile of the district and to agree what needed to be done. The second meeting was to review the district’s action plan. Some initiatives were funded as a result of those discussions. It is fair to say that some districts engaged more fully than others in that process but, where there was good engagement, progress was made. As we all know recruitment isn’t instant so I can’t tell you any numbers at this stage. What is clear is that, where fruitful discussions were held, the district and coordinators know in which towns at least some Rotary representation is modern, vibrant, flexible and marketable. Let’s be positive and clear that there are some. It is also known where plans are made or action under way to create that situation. This is a continuum – it is not start stop with new Rotary years. I am no longer a coordinator but I know who in the team will be working with our district this year to continue the work that started before. I’m not kidding myself or Sean. Not all plans are in place but many are. Maybe Nether Wallop is fine but, if it isn’t, perhaps he or his club would like to contribute with their own ideas in discussion with the AG as they are very involved in all of this activity too. resources are there and united in determination to help districts and clubs. The more districts and clubs engage and are encouraged the more progress will be made. It will not be plain sailing either. Some new clubs will fail, some initiatives in some towns will not work as well as hoped. We are dealing with people after all and there will be surprises. Kevin’s committee, the RC team, District leaders and others must learn from those (and those that do work) so that we really do regenerate Rotary in UK and Ireland. I think that is what we all want.

    1. says:

      Thank you Peter for reading the Blog and making a contribution to the discussion. Our fictitious character Sean Bloggs notes the explanation you have so kindly made concerning what is happening in the RIBI area of responsibility. I think Sean, if he were at all engaged and even knew and was interested in these initiatives, would make the observation, why is it that I don’t know and can take advantage of these projects, the information has not got down to me yet.

      This comes down to the very crux of the points we are trying to make. The RIBI region is small by any standards has a unique set up of what should be available support but the clients know nothing about it and see no value in the subs they pay being made by RIBI. To put it bluntly the people running the shop and meeting every few months have become busy fools.

      Of the people reading and contributing to this discussion and appear to make it their business to keep well informed don’t even know about Rotary GO because I think that is what you are referring to. Others who do appear to know about it seem to really not know what to do. It would appear that all that is happening is adding to some confusion. And as you say it’s a voluntary organisation and if people are confused the best course of action is just ignore the plan. In messages I receive now the swell of active Rotarians reviewing their position in the organisation this year disillusioned with the whole RIBI set up is growing.

      So back to Sean Bloggs sitting in the Rotary Club of Nether Wallop. He has a conscience about his membership wants to make a real contribution to a lasting legacy for his club although the numbers are falling he has held on considering his position and being beaten up about getting more members. He’s struggling along with his club he wants to do something wants value for money from his subs, makes the meetings to see his long term mates and know what needs to be done. He’s floundering though because he wants someone to come along and explain what he needs to do. He wants visible, dynamic, pragmatic leadership that he can engage with from RIBI and he’s been waiting for it for years now.

      My heartfelt plea is don’t let Sean lose whatever mojo he had for Rotary because he like others will be soon be sitting in the departure lounge along with others deciding whether or not to cross the bridge to the departure gate.

    2. says:

      only comment I have heard recently, is that ‘they’ are trying to close small Clubs, because they cost too much money to administer! Money for this, money for that!

  10. says:

    Been thinking about leaving for some time now, so this may be my final year.
    I will try to finish the projects, a global grant, grow the membership, and think out of the box before the year end.

    I have no idea what GO is, as no one has approached my Club. How much did it cost? How many new members? What did we get for the money?
    Have seen the plea to create 250 new Clubs from RIBI President, is this another plan? Have seen the requests for ever more money from RI, RIBI and District.

    1. says:

      Thank you Mac for commenting on the Blog and forgoing discussion. I respect you as a committed Rotarian who gives a lot of time and effort to your club and Rotary in general. You have always been an inspiration to many Rotarians quietly and diligently working away and are good at what you do.
      I know you make it your business to keep informed concerning Rotary developments within the UK and beyond but I’m not surprised you have heard nothing about the eponymous Rotary GO until now. It did from information I received mop up a good deal of money that is why we ask what the ROI is. The plea to create 250 new clubs is percolating down to the members and Rotary 2 seems to be another plan yes. Not quite sure what the plan is yet. It’s like the story of M&S and the consultants. At one time they had so many consultants in the business they had to hire more consultants to oversee the consultants. I sincerely hope we don’t lose you as I think the loss of you and others is going to be reaching crisis point. I’m sure in the end RIBI will pull something out of the bag but we’ve yet to see.

  11. Sam Sweiry says:

    Great postings … Thoroughly enjoy reading … I have read so much rubbish from some that I thought to turn over the page … that is until more provoking conversation continue to rattle … basicly we have probleblems with RIBI … what is the solution?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *