By Bruce McConnelee / 7190 District Governor
Every year, the Rotary International president mounts some effort to improve membership, yet worldwide Rotary’s total membership has been stuck at 1.2 million for many years. This means the same number of folks leave Rotary each year as join a club. Rotary is growing rapidly in many parts of the world, but here in North America, Rotary is shrinking, and our district is no different from many throughout the states.
RI President Shektar Mehta has asked us to “Be One, Bring One.” Be a good Rotarian, in all the ways we know and love; and also bring a good Rotarian. Just one, each of us.
When analyzed superficially, my strong suit, this means our district would double in one year — minus the folks who move, pass away, and are otherwise incorrigible or prefer a different service organization.
Yet it seems truly difficult for many of us to “bring just one.” For some, they may feel they’ve already asked their friends, or don’t want to burden their friends with the prospect of saying no. I get this, and if I had any friends I could even relate.
You may know a Rotarian because you are colleagues at work; congregants at the same church, fellow board members on other not-for-profits; neighbors down the street. You know they’re involved with Rotary because it comes up in casual conversation. You know it’s a good thing they’re doing, and there’s a good chance you are respecting and maybe even admiring the fact they’ve made a commitment to this world.
Which comes to a perspective I believe has far more potential than the straightforward, out-and-out “ask:” Rather than get people into Rotary, get Rotary into the people!
All Rotary clubs should “allow” friends and neighbors to participate in your service projects. Is there any reason a club’s service project has to be Tuesday at noon, or Wednesday night, rather than Saturday morning or some other non-working time? If you don’t know the answer to this, ask your current leadership.
For most of us it’s much easier to get Rotary into the people if we invite them to participate, and join with them to make our community better. And, it’s a much easier ask if someone might like to help out with a project. And, quite honestly, if the answer is no, then Rotary may not be for them, which is OK, too.
Our district is working on many flexible models and new clubs that will meet the needs of today’s Rotarian prospect –- different meeting times, cause-based and affinity clubs, clubs with lower expenses. And, we will roll these out in the coming months. Clubs for moms, clubs for vets and those who support vets, clubs that have one primary cause-based focus like the environment, etc.
But, it still all starts with you. Will you “Be One, Bring One”? We can no longer wait for “the other guy” to do it. If the “Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as the basis of worthy enterprise” — and we know that we could do more with more Rotarians — then it stands to reason that our worthy enterprise in the Capital Region will be greater, deeper, and more impactful. And, more fun.
“Be the One,” please.