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PDG David Egan, Assistant Rotary Coordinator —

Rotary’s vision statement urges us to unite with strategic objectives encouraging us to increase our impact and reach in order to achieve lasting change.

Article by PDG David Egan, member of Zone 8 Regionalisation Team

The great Mahatma Gandhi wisely said, “The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others” and that, “service rendered without joy, helps neither the servant nor the served”.

These quotes reflect answers given in a recent survey of Zone 8 Rotarians asking them what is good in Rotary and most important to retain if we were to change. The majority said what counts most is ‘the opportunity to do service projects’, and ‘serving with friends’ (fellowship, networking and fun).

Rotary’s vision statement urges us to unite with strategic objectives encouraging us to increase our impact and reach in order to achieve lasting change. But, if we are to achieve these goals and be great, growing and increasing membership diversity and participants is essential.

Many clubs have worked hard at the challenge for years but unfortunately, despite decades of attracting many new people, we have shrunk. With less people, an ageing membership and diminishing clubs, fundraising is harder and service to the community is impacted, as are fellowship and enjoyment opportunities.

Zone 8 - 10 years

Whilst focusing solely on numbers is negative, when we lose 116 clubs in 10 years and 42,640 members leave in the same time frame, it does beg the question - Is there a different and smarter way of approaching this challenge? One that enables us to attract and retain more people and raise more funds to increase our impact and reach. One that, along the way, enables us to better enjoy serving in Rotary.

Some say improving our public image will do it, but will it alone? Complicating the challenge is research showing volunteer expectations are changing in people of all ages, with so many different ways to volunteer. In addition, young leaders are looking to lead in ways different to those traditionally offered.

We ignore these trends at our own peril and expecting people to change to suit us just doesn’t work. Perhaps a smarter approach is to adapt and enhance the product we offer and how we offer it . We must innovate, but how do we do so in ways that don’t lose those things that should never change?

What if there was an opportunity to work together for a more efficient, synchronised, and direct approach to helping clubs and members enhance their membership experience, leadership, fundraising, impact and reach. One that is underpinned by significantly better public image and communication.

Three years ago the Rotary International Board approved Zone 8 developing a plan to do just that, and now it is hoped the Board will soon endorse our Zone undertaking a pilot of the plan. Should this opportunity become available, extensive club and member communications are planned to occur from March.

The Zone 8 Regional Pilot Planning team appreciates that a change of this nature is significant and welcomes participation, discussion and other perspectives so that together we evolve what’s best for our region.

For background information and more on this initiative to better support clubs to go from good to great, and to provide your thoughts and feedback, click on https://rotaryzone8.org/page/rotary-regionalisation-project/