July was a busy month with so many events happening: new leaders taking over the mantle of leadership all over the Rotary world, Rotarians attending installation functions of their Rotary clubs, friendships being strengthened and new bonds between clubs and members being developed. For all of us Rotarians, August truly is a special month. It also signifies the start of a new period. This is the opportune time to rededicate ourselves and resolve to work on our commitment of service to our communities.
Friends, now it is the time to act. We have laid out for ourselves a detailed roadmap for the Rotary Year 2017–18.
Let me remind you of our main focus areas:
- Support and strengthen our clubs
- Focus on and increase humanitarian service
- Enhance Rotary’s public image and awareness
We need to foster innovation and flexibility at the club level. We must support and encourage our clubs to participate in a range of service activities. We must look for new classifications to promote membership diversity. At the same time, we must encourage members to participate more actively in their clubs activities. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush: pursuit of new memberships cannot be at the expense of existing members. “Retention” is key, not only in corporates but also in our clubs. Go the extra mile to ensure 100 per cent retention. We must identify potential leaders at the club level and involve them in our clubs’ weekly/fortnightly meetings and service projects, give them leadership roles and help them to develop into outstanding Rotary leaders of the future. Leadership is a bottom-up exercise. There is so much talent and potential for leadership in our clubs. Do a membership survey; look for worthy members, new classifications and start new clubs. Encourage and involve members in the implementation of strategic planning at club and district level. Ensure every club learns to respect and adhere to its constitution and bylaws.
There is no such thing as overnight success. We need to have an open mind to constantly learn to adopt new approaches that will hone our skills in serving our communities. Learning is a never-ending process and it is only by adherence to this process we’ll be able to make positive contributions to our mission of fellowship and service.
Let me quote Bill Gates who at the RI Atlanta Convention called the Global Polio Eradication Initiative the “single most ambitious public health effort the world has ever undertaken”. While doing so he thanked Rotary for being the catalyst and a visionary partner in helping to end this paralysing infantile disease worldwide. “Rotary laid the foundation with its unwavering sense of purpose and its belief that anything is possible if you put your mind and body to it. It is this talent for generating new ideas, learning lessons, and adapting them to new circumstances that makes me optimistic we will get to zero.”
Friends, our target is to raise enough resources (volunteers as well as financial aid) to completely eradicate polio from the face of the earth. The best way to do this is to contribute more to The Rotary Foundation and strengthen/expand our membership base.
On June 1, for the first time I addressed the Rotary webinar with the support of RISAO. As many of you know webinar is web-based seminar transmitted over the web using video conferencing software. A key feature of a webinar is its interactive elements: the ability to give, receive and discuss information in real-time. I received encouraging feedback and, going forward, I am eagerly looking forward to share and discuss with you (and also get your feedback) through webinars all aspects of the work we can do together in Rotary. For the benefit of those of you who may not have been able to access the webinar, here is the link for the recorded version: https://vimeo.com/219854581. Rotary: Making a Difference!
Director, Rotary International