Rashi and I look forward to having two great years at Rotary International; together let’s accomplish more,” said RIPE Shekhar Mehta addressing about 800 district and club leaders at a breakout session, moderated by PRID Bryn Styles, at the Rotary virtual convention.
Mehta, elaborating on his plans for his presidential year 2021–22, said that his priority is to increase membership. “For 20 years we have been saying our membership is 1.2 million, it is time we move to 1.3 million,” he said, and urged every Rotarian to introduce at least one of his acquaintances to Rotary. He suggested the DGEs form committees for growth and retention.
He shared his thoughts on growing membership based on a region’s density and population. “In my city Kolkata there are 12 million people but only 2,000 are Rotarians. That is, for every 10,000 people we have just one Rotarian, which is 0.01 per cent. We must have at least 2–3 Rotarians per 10,000. Getting new members is as important as contributing to TRF,” he said, adding that new members means more funds for the Foundation.
Retaining members is equally important for Rotary to grow. He suggested that the DGEs coordinate with the AGs. Retention will happen only if clubs are strong. The role of the AGs is significant to build the clubs’ strength and make them interesting and worthwhile for members.
He appreciated a thought on encouraging the concept of ‘Rotary for life’ for Rotaractors. “They should have a smooth transition as Rotarians. We must cash in on their passion for Rotary. The #Elevate Rotaract has upgraded Rotaract as actual members of Rotary rather than a programme of Rotary. They are not the ‘feet on the ground’ or ‘hands to do your job’. Treat them at par. Involve them in your service and even global grant projects.”
I urge every Rotarian to contribute whatever you can every year to make your Foundation robust and well-equipped to heal the world.
— John Germ
TRF Trustee Chair Elect
Mehta said he plans to invite 60 Rotaractors to the International Assembly during his presidential year.
There will be six Presidential Conferences during his year — five in various countries and the last one at the RI Convention to be held at Houston — and several Rotary Days. Rotary Days are opportunities to showcase Rotary’s work to the public. “So invite non-Rotarians and show them what we do. Celebrate our projects; conduct project fairs to showcase our People of Action. Besides propagating our work, it is a perfect way to attract members,” he said.
Mehta recommended inviting corporates and international partners to visit project sites while executing GG projects. “Let them see what their contribution is doing for the community.” They are the best PR agents when they go back to their clubs and tell people how their funds have helped people in another country. “When you do a GG to facilitate paediatric heart surgeries, invite your partners to see how their money has helped in saving little lives. When you construct a toilet for a community, show them how it has helped in ushering in better hygiene and sanitation there; or when water gushes out from a tap in a remote village in Africa, let them see the joy on the faces of the locals to understand the magic of Rotary.”
He urged the district and club leaders to dream big and do bigger projects. “We must take the level of our service to be worthy of a 115-year-old organisation.”
To a question on how should Rotary deal with the political issues ravaging the world, Mehta quoted Rotary founder Paul Harris who has said, ‘Tolerance is the cornerstone of Rotary.’ “Let us remember our core values — diversity and inclusiveness. The RI Board is taking steps to address those issues. We work for peace and we have to acknowledge other people’s thought process,” said Mehta.
TRF, the heart of Rotary
TRF Trustee Chair-elect PRIP John Germ shared his thoughts about the Foundation with the district and club leaders.
“TRF is the heart of Rotary and our focus is to make the world a better place for everyone. The solution to the challenge is very simple: Every Rotarian Every Year — EREY. I urge every Rotarian to contribute whatever you can every year to make your Foundation robust and well-equipped to heal the world,” he said.
Speaking about how the Foundation rose to meet the challenges of the Covid pandemic, Germ complimented the Foundation staff for acting fast to assist Rotarians to carry out relief activities. “We combined emotional response with pragmatic action,” he said, adding that TRF gave $5.1 million in approving 207 disaster grants and 216 GGs, valued at about $14.2 million. “That is a total of $20 million for Covid relief work.” Funds were made possible through DDF transfers and General Fund and “several Rotarians diverted their convention refunds to the Covid Disaster Fund.”
When water gushes out from a tap in a remote village in Africa, let your partners see the joy on the faces of the locals to understand the magic of Rotary.
— Shekhar Mehta
RI President Elect
He urged the audience to find ways to get corporates to work with Rotary. “Let us work together to improve our membership. Without increasing our membership we cannot grow TRF except through Endowed Gifts,” he said.
The Foundation is all about increasing Rotary’s impact. “Think about our work in polio where we started with $760 million for 3-H grants to immunise six million children in Philippines, and the number of peace scholars passing out of the various peace centres across the world. Think about what we can accomplish when we reach our goal of $2.025 billion by 2025.”
To a question whether it is right for clubs to have their own foundations, Germ said it is fine as long as they contribute significantly to TRF.
Polio will be the topmost priority for TRF, he said. “We will be asking every club to contribute $1,500 for the polio campaign and each district to budget 20 per cent of their DDF for the Polio Fund. If DDF is matched $1 for $1, then with Gates Foundation’s match of 2:1, you can see how that builds up.”