The Covid crisis has made us realise that change comes to us when we least expect it. Often change is thrust upon us. Rotary has always accepted change of leaders as a yearly process. But our meetings, projects, structure usually followed ‘tradition’. We were comfortable with old problems rather than new solutions. I am optimistic that with the new norms Rotary will move forward into a brighter future as a dynamic, evolving organisation. Today clubs and Rotarians across cultures, borders and boundaries are collaborating and connecting through fellowship and engagement.

The buzzwords defining Rotary today are connections, collaboration and communication. The new Rotary is not restricted to meeting rooms, halls and hotels. Rotary has come into our homes, our living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms; in fact, in every nook and corner of our houses.  A recent RI survey showed that over 90 per cent clubs in our zones had met online reasonably frequently during the last three months and 55 per cent of clubs indicated that they will have a combination of in-person and virtual meetings once things normalise. This augurs well for membership.

August is Membership month, the best time to introduce a friend to Rotary. People join Rotary for different reasons but the strongest is that they want to be Rotarians. Communicate the values and benefits of Rotary well and membership growth is not difficult. Retention is of prime importance. Emphasise on the members’ talent, not just time. Membership is not about numbers but our members are our most important, valuable assets who will make our clubs vibrant, attractive and meaningful to work in. A Rotary club should become: a place to relax; a place of belonging; a place where the member’s talent, time and contribution are valued. Change the trend, bring a friend and retain that friend.

How do we keep members engaged in these times? There are still people in need; hungry to be fed, homeless to be sheltered, illiterate to be educated and sick to be healed. These opportunities were present yesterday and they are there today and will be there tomorrow.  There are still minds to be mended and lives to be rebuilt. And some of these lives would be of our Rotarians who require our helping hand. These are action points for Rotarians to serve. We can help to rebuild, reshape and restore our communities. This is what Rotarians do and this is why we are in Rotary.

This is our call, this is our time and this is the moment for which we joined Rotary. As we connect with each other, as new and different opportunities open up before us together we can and we will change the world.

Dr Bharat Pandya,
RI Director, 2019-21

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