First thoughts – May 2015


From ideas to achievements
From concepts to completion
All that we have done
Make chapter ten a Perfect Ten!

Dear Partners in Service,

As a Liaison Director to the membership committee, I had the pleasure of attending their meeting on March 25–26, 2015 at Evanston. The committee discussed important topics like innovative and flexible clubs, engagement, governance, communication, training and dual growth strategy.

The dual growth strategy discussed by the committee over the last year seeks to focus Rotary’s recruitment efforts on a multi-generational approach to membership targeting baby boomers and young professionals (millennials).

It is encouraging to note that as of February 2015, India is just 4,611 members short of our Regional Membership target of 1,40,000 by June 30, 2015, which we will definitely reach.

I started my tenure as RI Director with 1,19,000 members on July 1, 2013, in Zones 4, 5 and 6A. It is heartening to note that we have had a net growth of 20,000 members in the last 20 months, which represents 60 per cent of worldwide growth in this period, making India No. 1 in the world in membership development!

May is the month which we should all use for self-­assessment of our performance during 2014–2015. We should now compare our plans made in July 2014 with actual achievements till date and chalk out a plan of action for the unfinished work, in the remaining weeks.

W Somerset Maugham said, “It is a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the very best you will very often get it.” So let us do our utmost in the remaining time and achieve nothing but the very best.

The 52-week Rotary year is like a 50-over one day cricket match. During the recently concluded World Cup, we saw world class cricket teams keenly competing for the cup.Though all teams were good, the Australians won because they made the best use of the last 5 or 6 overs in every match and so is it in Rotary.

The clubs, who make the best use of the last 5 or 6 weeks completing unfinished projects and achieving planned targets, will be the winners.

In May, many Rotary clubs face the problem of poor attendance at the weekly meetings. This should not deter us because many of our Rotarians are taking a well-deserved break and will be back soon, with their batteries fully charged, ready to do more service. That brings me to the subject of attendance and service.

Recently I completed 32 years of perfect attendance and this reminded me of what Past RI President Cliff Dochterman wrote about attendance and service. He recalls an episode were Rtn C P H Tennstra, President of RI in 1965–66 was visiting a Rotary club and the club President proudly announced that one of their members had 49 years of perfect attendance. The venerable Dutchman quickly replied, “Very interesting — but what has he done for Rotary?”

Frequently, clubs tend to equate Rotary attendance with Rotary service. Regular weekly attendance is a very important part of a good Rotary club because Rotary is an organisation of participants, not just members whose names are listed on the roster.  But hundred per cent attendance should not be the only goal of Rotarians.

Just as there is a difference between a container and its contents, there is a significant difference between attending Rotary meetings and performing Rotary service. Even though I am impressed when Rotarians proudly announce 100 per cent attendance record of 10, 15 or even 50 years, I still wonder what have they done for Rotary.

Rotarians with 85 per cent attendance may deserve equal recognition, especially if they have sponsored a number of new members, made annual contributions to TRF, taken part in community service projects, attended the yearly district conference, hosted Youth Exchange students at their homes, made the effort to greet visiting Rotarians and frequently travelled to international conventions. Those are the Rotarians who are ‘involved’ in Rotary.

Most of us recognise the hundred per cent attendance records because they are easy to measure. But we overlook and seldom recognise those who are doing the work of our Rotary clubs week after week.

Perhaps the greatest compliment a Rotarian could receive is not that “he or she has 25 years of perfect Rotary attendance,” but rather that, “he or she has 25 years of perfect Rotary Service.”

Yours in Rotary


P T Prabhakar
Rotary International (2013–15)

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