The Kuala Lumpur Rotary Zone Institute Convener and RI Director C Basker, addressing its inaugural session, said Rotary had a strong presence in our zones which included India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. “We have over 160,000 Rotarians which forms 13 per cent of the world’s Rotarians.” In the last three years, membership had been growing and this year the zones have added over 6,400 Rotarians so far.
Women’s clubs in our zones have proved to be highly dedicated, efficient, especially in humanitarian service projects and they have also proved to be great fund managers. We want to have 25 per cent of our members as women.
He recalled that at the RI Directors’ orientation programme, the late RI President Elect Sam Owori had asked him his membership goal. And when he put the number at 10 per cent, he thought Owori would be happy. But he smiled and kept quiet. Sensing he wasn’t happy, Basker quizzed him, to which Owori’s counter question was on the population of countries in his zone. “When I said 1.25 billion, he said your aspiration should be to get 1.25 million members. I was taken aback and asked how is it possible to have one per cent of the population as Rotarians? And he said: ‘Well, Sweden has one per cent Rotarians. Why can’t our zones, including Africa, take up that challenge?”
That set him, added Basker, to set his new goal as 1.25 million members in “our zones alone by 2025.”
But such a goal, which he had discussed with the present DGs, wouldn’t be easy, said the RI Director. And to work towards it Rotarians in these zones, particularly club and district leaders, would have to implement three points:
- Support and strengthen clubs
- Enhance humanitarian service projects
- Improve Rotary’s public image
An ambitious membership goal
Basker then listed out the initiatives he has taken to march towards this ambitious goal, and make Rotary strong in our zones. “It was decided to improve the running of clubs, and clubs were told that those of them which do not have a Constitution and bylaws will need to get one prepared by September and circulated to members before Sept 30.”
The DGs had agreed to verify this during their official visits, and were also advised to print the bylaws in the district directory. A swot analysis for each district based on the lastfive years’ RI data on membership and TRF giving has been prepared and shared with the DGs.
Strategic planning for Rotary clubs has been made simpler through an objective work sheet which each club secretary was asked to prepare with the president during PETS. Most DGs have done that.
Emphasis on training
Coming to the component which he considers “most important”, Basker said this year the DGs have been asked to take all training events very seriously and some new initiatives and a uniform agenda have been prepared for PETS and SETS based on the RI handbook. “For the first time, the club president’s handbook has been printed in all regional languages. This has helped those who do not follow English to understand the dos and don’ts of a club much better.”
The ‘trainer’s training programme’ has been made compulsory at the district level and “we have trained key officials like the district membership, TRF and public image chairs centrally naming the programme Disha with a common syllabus and faculty.
Rotaracts are the life insurance of Rotary in our zones, and we have the highest number of Rotaract clubs in the world; we are launching an online version of Rotaract News from January.
Next with membership being an important priority, a district-wise data analysis was done for the last five years to understand recruitment and retention. A big challenge was the members understanding membership criteria, “so we have prepared and circulated this information to the DGs to share with their club presidents for a better understanding on who to invite to join their clubs. The DGs are working with weak and dysfunctional clubs, and have promised that either through mergers or induction of new members, they will ensure there are no clubs with less than 20 members by June-end, 2018. I have also encouraged the districts to hold at least two or three membership seminars so that people don’t leave Rotary,” said Basker.
Record TRF contributions
Coming to TRF, Basker congratulated past Trustee Chair Kalyan Banerjee for ensuring that our zones continue to be among the top giving nations. “Thanks to his tireless efforts as a leader, our zone contributed over $20 million, which is not only the highest ever for us, but has also placed us in the second place in the world in TRF contributions. Now the challenge for the Trendsetters (present DGs) is to surpass our own milestone and show we are not only aggressive in fighting elections, we are also aggressive in raising funds!”
The goal set for this year for the zone is $30 million. Again, a five-year club-wise analysis on TRF giving has been prepared to help the clubs leaders understand they need to “create a habit of members making a TRF contribution every year. We are hoping that at least 50 per cent of the clubs give to TRF this year.”
To focus on endowments and major gifts, district-level endowment and major gift chairs had been appointed for the first time ever, and they would work under the guidance of the DG and the EMGAs.
Basker said the Indian government had provided a great opportunity to service organisations such as Rotary by its mandated CSR policy which would make available Rs 1,800 billion annually to be spent on community welfare programmes. TRF Trustees have permitted Rotary in India to accept this money and a district CSR chair had been appointed to build a relationship with potential corporate donors.
India was also a major recipient of global grants; “in order to improve the quality of the global grants executed in our zone, the Trustees have approved as a one-year pilot project an oversight panel comprising experienced PDGs as volunteers to oversee completed grants at no cost to Rotary.”
“Rotaracts are the life insurance of Rotary in our zones, and we have the highest number of Rotaract clubs in the world but unfortunately the RI data base is not updated owing to coordination issues. Without current data no improvement can really be achieved. Hence, we conducted a central training programme in Hyderabad for the first time involving DRRs, DRCCS, ARCS and RCs with the RI staff and I am sure we will now see a significant involvement and increase in Rotaract activities.”
To capture these activities an online version of Rotaract News on a quarterly basis is being launched and this will bring in synergy between Rotary and Rotaracts.
Focus on women members
Paying a handsome tribute to the dedication of women Rotarians in India, the RI Director said the district governors have been asked to give a special focus to invite women members. “The new women’s clubs started in our zones have proved to be highly dedicated, efficient, especially in humanitarian service projects and they have also proved to be great fund managers. We want to have 25 per cent of our members as women; right now, we are the lowest in this category.”
In conclusion, Basker said: “I have a dream… of 1.25 million Rotarians in our zone by 2025 and an annual contribution of $50 million to TRF, also by 2025. And to execute at least 500 worthy humanitarian projects every year. Last, but not the least, a complaint-free and healthy Rotary in India.”
Pictures by Rtn Sridhar Bharathy