Clubs need to engage new members
If governors can guide club presidents in the right manner, we can see a dramatic change in retention figures, says Sandip Agarwalla. “We need to engage new members and meet their expectations. Clubs must hold pre-induction sessions where Rotary’s multifaceted role, global, national and district activities are explained to them.” He’s looking at a 10 per cent net membership growth. With 108 clubs having 5,700 Rotarians, “I am keen on organic growth. Some new clubs will be formed, but focus is on retention.”
Two of his biggest projects are adult literacy for 25,000 tribal women in Palghar district in partnership with TCS, already in progress, and a midday meal kitchen (₹10 crore) at Vikramgad taluk, part-funded by CSR-India grant. “Tribal women are being taught financial and digital literacy. The new kitchen will cater initially to 10,000 students of zilla parishad (ZP) schools, pregnant and lactating mothers.” Land is being acquired for construction, and ISKCON staff will run the kitchen. Around 500 paediatric heart surgeries are planned; 10 per cent will be done on African children.
Over 1,000 handwash stations (GG: ₹2 crore) were installed at 670 ZP schools. Safe drinking water units were put up at 146 of these schools; toilet blocks will either be renovated or built anew. His target for TRF giving is $5 million. RID 3141 targets 25 GG projects this year. Agarwalla joined Rotary in 1991, inspired by his father, late PDG Santosh Kumar Agarwalla, while his grandfather was charter president of RC Dhanbad.
Despite challenges, growth is vibrant
Covid pandemic and recurring floods are twin problems facing 158 clubs in the district comprising southern Kerala. “But the membership growth is vibrant here. I am confident of starting 20 new clubs and adding 1,000 new members, including 200 women, to take up the headcount to 6,200 in my district,” says Babumon. Also, 50 new Rotaract and 200 new Interact clubs are planned, along with induction of 1,000 Rotaractors and 4,000 Interactors.
Project Amritam (nectar) will conduct health and ENT camps for five lakh students of government, unaided and private schools. “We will sponsor surgeries and provide all medical services to students under this project,” he says. Project Valsalyam (affection) will pay the five-year tuition fees of 50 poor, but deserving MBBS students and provide free coaching to 100 students (₹60,000 each) for the civil services exams. “We will do 20 Happy Schools, worth ₹5 lakh each, through member contribution,” he says.
Two dialysis centres (five machines each) will come up at Thiruvananthapuram and Alleppey and 50 machines will be set up at government hospitals trough a GG of ₹1.5 crore. Project Parinayam (evolution) will sponsor the marriage of 50 disabled couples, each getting ₹1 lakh. Like in the last year, 100 low-cost houses (₹6 lakh each) will be built for poor families and flood victims. Babumon aims $1.5 million for TRF. He joined Rotary in 2000 inspired by his friend late Rtn V K Joy.
Non-functional clubs, retention are key challenges
Retention is a daunting task, for the district had a net membership growth of 200 despite adding over 450 new Rotarians, as 11 non-functional and six defaulting clubs (non-payment of dues) were shut down last year, says Ajoy K Law. Around 20 per cent of the 160 clubs in the district have less than 20 members. “It is a challenge to make them active.” At least 12 new clubs and 450 new members will be added this year. On the Rotaract front, the goal is to form 15 new clubs and add 250 new Rotaractors. Currently, there are around 100 active Rotaract clubs with 3,000-plus Rotaractors.
One of his big-ticket projects is literacy where “the clubs will reach out to 30 lakh girls and rural women. Basic literacy will be taught at community halls and panchayat centres.”
Eye camps will be held under Rotavision for those in the 40-55 age group and free spectacles will be given. VRX is providing CSR funds to screen around five lakh people, including tea garden workers of North Bengal. Free cataract surgeries will be done at the 12 Rotary eye hospitals. Law aims to collect $3.5 million for TRF. Around 15-20 clubs have applied for GG projects. This DG joined Rotary in 1995 with the help of his friend, an ex-Rotarian, to become the charter member of RC Calcutta River Bank. In 2004, he switched to his present club as charter member.
Public image-building key to sustain growth
High impact projects will draw public attention and will facilitate growth in membership,” says Prakash Karanth. With 87 clubs having 3,500 Rotarians, he is aiming for a 10 per cent membership growth and wants to form 10 new clubs.
He wants to add 200 new Rotaractors to the current strength of 1,200. The district is planning a Rotary eye hospital (GG: $180,000) in Puttur by Jan-Feb 2023; a blood bank (GG: ₹70–80 lakh) in Bantwal; and dialysis centre (GG: $100,000) at the government hospital, Mysuru. Around 100 Happy Schools are being planned by various clubs, mostly funded by member contributions.
Around 400 health camps will be conducted across Dakshina Kannada, Chamarajnagar and Mysuru, reaching out to one lakh beneficiaries. “I have already given $250,000 for TRF at Lakshya, the goal-setting conclave in Pune, and will contribute $250,000 more for the year,” says Karanth. He joined Rotary in 2011.