A treacherous statement from a Rotarian heretic: Rotarians make greater impacts on their communities outside the realm of Rotary than they do inside the realm.
Rotarians are People of Action, not because they are members of a Rotary club, but because that is who they already are: active and/or retired leaders of local businesses, professional associations, charitable organizations, and government entities. Here is a sampling of the impacts they make in their communities on a daily basis:
- Keeping and returning more money to the community's economy,
- Offering job opportunities for local citizens,
- Giving personal service to local citizens,
- Improving their community's social development,
- Taking more interest in the quality of education available,
- Helping their community exist and thrive,
- Helping create a better quality of life in their community, and
- Bringing services and necessities to communities, neighborhoods, and people.
Depending on their phases in life, proprietors and associates are already helping to make their lives and communities better by being involved in religious organizations, YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, school parent organizations, Boy and Girl scouts, professional organizations, coaching athletic teams, serving on school and hospital boards, etc. Prosperous civic organizations do not minimize the ideals of such members; they enhance their members' desires and abilities to make life better for all concerned. Such organizations understand their members' unique characteristics and seek others with similar psychographics, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or age. Joining such organizations becomes an asset to people of action and offers greater opportunities for them to amplify their values.
For example, in
and for personal reasons, Edgar Allen, a wealthy business owner, started a home
for crippled children. His ability to do
so was enhanced because he was a member of the Rotary Club of Elyria. That local initiative evolved into the international
organization we know of today as Easter Seals.
In 1983, Bruce McTavish, a Elyria, Ohio New Zealand
born professional boxing referee and budding philanthropist, was president of
the twenty-seven member Rotary Club of Mabalacat, . He proposed that the club initiate a campaign
to immunize the children of Mabalacat against polio, as had been done throughout
Pamapanga Province, Philippines
where, in the spring of 1959, written appeals had gone out to professional
groups, including Rotary clubs, to help get information to targeted population
groups. The Mabalacat club approved President Bruce's proposal and, with the
help of other Rotary clubs and medical personnel, they immunized thousands of
children. Enhanced by the Rotary network, this local project planted the seed that, in 1985, blossomed into Rotary's worldwide humanitarian endeavor to eradicate polio. New Zealand
The world over, today's Rotarians initiate similar initiatives in their communities for the same reasons - they want outcomes that help to fulfill local needs. Few of these initiatives, if any, will grow into world-wide movements, but these initiatives will help make local Rotarians' communities and the world better. If RI really has a desire to communicate the impact the Rotary network is having on the world, it should create effective, differentiating methods of telling the Rotary story centering on local and international outcomes. Asking clubs to "feed the elephant" with volunteer hours and contributed dollars on Rotary projects makes Rotary just another service organization. It minimizes the influence the Rotary network is - or should be - making locally and internationally, and it certainly doesn't entice many local People of Action to join a Rotary club. As a young female Chicago professional said when responding to an RI survey, "I don't need the title of Rotarian to do any of those things. I do that stuff already." That young lady was a person of action who perceived no value in joining a Rotary club.
There are over 1.2 million Rotarians in the world today who prioritize personal and public outcomes. Being a Rotarian should enhance their ability to achieve even greater outcomes. The story RI should be telling is who these Rotarians are, the value of being a part of the Rotary network, and how the network supports achieving personal outcomes. The stories should inspire existing Rotarians while projecting the concept that People of Action can improve their lives by becoming a Rotarian because