According to General Secretary John Hewko's address to the business session at the Rotary International (R.I.) Convention in
creating Rotarians is closing in on its appropriate R.I. priority, second only to polio
eradication. Secretary Hewko said, quote" . . . without members, there would be no Rotary." While I
absolutely support polio eradication, it is The Rotary Foundation's (TRF) top
priority, not R.I's. (Wonder where polio
eradication would be without Rotarians; those who created TRF and undertook the
polio eradication challenge?) Creating Rotarians, according to the R.I. Code of Policies, should be R.I.'s top priority, not to mention is necessary for its survival. Only by continually creating
Rotarians can the Rotary organism undertake other worldwide challenges.
Rotary historians, if they critically examine data and literature, will most likely conclude that membership began leveling off, and dropping in
America, when R.I. began referring to itself and its member clubs as service organizations populated by volunteers doing good things instead of being a worldwide association of Rotary clubs; local
networks of business, professional, and community leaders advancing the Object
of Rotary. Big difference! Huge difference! Gigantic Marketing difference!
The good news is that priorities, attitudes, and budgets are changing. However, I will actually believe that creating Rotarians is nearing its appropriate priority when, in the hearts, minds, and budgets of all Rotary leaders:
- specialized training and prestigious recognition is given to district membership chairs;
- specialized support from R.I. helps districts and clubs with demographic data bases;
- clubs with high RG Indexes receive higher recognition than those that meet TRF giving goals;
- public information begins recognizing who it is that does all the wonderful things Rotary clubs do;
- R.I., in all public information, including its web site, differentiates Rotarians from the almost 7 billion citizens of the world, virtually all of whom who have neighbors, but only a select few are community leaders.
- differentiation between Rotarians, Rotary clubs, and volunteers in other service organizations exists and is recognized;
- all RI Presidents, Directors, Staff, TRF Trustees, Coordinators, District Governors, and Club Presidents can in principle uniformly respond when asked, “What is Rotary?”
But the Angry Rotarian is cracking a smile because creating Rotarians does appear to be approaching its appropriate priority. Perhaps creating Rotarians and TRF donors will soon become the entire Rotary Organism's responsibility, not supposedly just its member clubs.