A highly respected friend asked my thoughts on Rotary’s annual themes. My response began by saying that EVERYTHING Rotary International (R.I.) does should be examined from its customer’s point of view. Rotary clubs are R.I.’s customers, so instead of looking at how R.I.’s annual themes interact with clubs, R.I. should examine how clubs interact with annual themes. BUT – I did not forget to answer my friend’s question.
From my experience, other than having the theme logo on their newsletter, website, a banner hanging somewhere, clubs do not interact with the annual theme. I suspect that a more critical examination from the clubs’ viewpoint would probably confirm that annual themes hinder creating a sustained local or worldwide identity; actively promote the ‘this is my year’ concept hampering multi-year planning and execution; deter effectively responding to the “What is Rotary?” question; do not help strengthen clubs or charter new clubs; do not help clubs retain or attract members; and create unnecessary expense and waste throughout the Rotary world. Some R.I. associates (see branding triangle in the right sidebar) may not appreciate this opinion, but associates are not R.I.’s customers – clubs are. And present and future members are clubs’ customers.
My opinion could be swayed if a critical, objective examination from the clubs’ viewpoint could show that annual themes were instrumental in advancing the Object of Rotary, helped solidify Rotary’s worldwide identity, delivered benefits to R.I.’s member clubs, and helped member clubs retain and attract local business, professional, and community leaders.
If you have any thoughts on this, comments are welcome, but more important, pass your thoughts on to the R.I. Associates representing your club - your District Governor Chain and your Zone’s Director and Director-Elect.