|RI President Ravi|
|PRID John Smarge|
The public admission by Rotary International (RI) President Ravi and tweeted to the world by Secretary General
Hewko that Rotary is a business is the culmination of a
reversal that began in 2011 when then RI Director John Smarge publically identified Rotarians as RI's customers. At last, RI and its member clubs can now
begin creating viable strategic plans because any strategic plan, to be even
close to realistic, must identify a common purpose. That purpose must lie outside of the Rotary
network. It must lie inside the social fabric
of the communities where local Rotary clubs successfully function. Therefore, the only valid purpose of RI is to create Rotary clubs and support them as they create Rotarians locally!
By admitting that Rotary is a business and accepting that its purpose is to create Rotarians, RI can now conduct business unlike any other business by pursuing its two primary functions - innovating and marketing. Both are important for Rotary to have a successful future. The Object of Rotary and recent Council on Legislation actions have opened the door to innovations. Marketing, on the other hand, may still be hiding in its closet. Marketing is based on knowing and understanding the Rotary network so well that membership sells itself - club membership in the association, and Rotarian membership in local clubs. To do that, RI must thoroughly know and understand the demographics, psychographics, realities, wants, needs, and values of its member clubs; independent organizations that must understand the same attributes in local existing and potential Rotarians. It is dangerous for RI to seek uniformity in the actions its over 35,000 member clubs take to create Rotarians. This is why the only true measure of effective clubs, districts, zones, regions, and RI is their ability to retain and attract Rotarians - their Retention Rates, Growth Rates, and RG Indexes. These are, by far, the most critical metrics of all membership (customer) dependent organizations.
Indeed, exciting and challenging times lie before the Rotary network! Rotary leaders should be proud to accept and promote that Rotary is a business unlike any other; a business based on developing relationships; recognizing the importance of legitimate businesses and professions; and instilling the ideal of service in individuals' family, business, community, and international lives.