Dear Fellow Rotarians,
Rotary is a massive, and massively complex, organization.
As this issue of The Rotarian goes to press, we have 1.2
million members in 35,633 clubs in nearly every country of the world.
Hundreds of thousands of participants are involved in Rotary programs
such as Rotaract, Interact, Youth Exchange, Rotary Youth Leadership
Awards, Rotary Community Corps, Rotary Peace Centers, and a host
of local and Foundation-supported projects and programs at the national,
district, and local levels. The name of Rotary is attached to countless
projects every year, from blood banks to food banks, school sanitation
to polio eradication. One hundred thirteen years after the first
Rotary club was founded, Rotary service reaches literally around
What that service looks like on a daily and weekly basis can vary
enormously by region, country, and club. Each club has its own history,
priorities, and identity. It follows that the identity of Rotarians,
and the purpose each Rotarian sees in his or her service, similarly
has a great deal of variation. There's nothing wrong with that,
as Rotary is by design a decentralized organization, intended to
enable each Rotarian and each Rotary club to serve in the ways that
suit them best.
Yet the diversity that makes us so strong can also pose challenges
to our identity as an organization. It is no surprise that many
people who have heard of Rotary still have little idea of what Rotary
does, how we are organized, or why we exist at all. Even within
Rotary, many members have an incomplete understanding of our larger
organization, our goals, or the scope and breadth of our programs.
These challenges have significant implications, not only for our
ability to serve most effectively, but also for the public image
that is so essential to our ability to build our membership, partnerships,
Several years ago, Rotary launched a serious effort across the organization
to address these issues, developing tools to strengthen our visual
and brand identity. Today, we are using those tools to develop our
People of Action public image campaign, which showcases the ability
that Rotary grants each of us to make a difference in our communities
and beyond. Last June, your Rotary International Board of Directors
voted to adopt a new vision statement, reflecting our identity and
the single purpose that unites the diversity of our work.
Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create
lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and
Wherever we live, whatever language we speak, whatever work our
clubs are involved in, our vision is the same. We all see a world
that could be better and that we can help to make better. We are
here because Rotary gives us the opportunity to build the world
we want to see – to unite and take action through Rotary:
Making a Difference..
Ian H.S. Riseley
Trustee Chair's Message - May
Paul A. Netzel, Trustee Chair 2017-18
Fifty percent of the world's population is under age
30. So it is important that we ask: What do young people want? Of
course, every generation must ask this question. But it is also
an important question for Rotary today, because our clubs must evolve
if we are to best serve communities that, themselves, are evolving
and changing all the time.
The World Economic Forum's recent Global Shapers Survey of more
than 30,000 people under 30 from 186 countries offers some useful
A majority of the respondents view climate change and conflict as
the most critical issues we face. They also value a "start-up
ecosystem and entrepreneurship" as vital to youth empowerment.
However, they are less optimistic about having their voices heard.
Over half the survey respondents do not think "young people's
views" are considered before important decisions are made in
their countries. (Some good news: During my travels to several dozen
countries this year, many Rotaractors shared that they believe their
voices are being heard by Rotary leaders!)
It is clear that young people want to make a difference on the issues
that matter to our world and their communities. Above all, they
want to see results when they commit to a project. A good example
is the father-and-son team of Tulsi and Anil Maharjan, members of
the Rotary Club of Branchburg Township, New Jersey. With the help
of grants from Our Foundation, Tulsi and Anil are implementing microcredit,
scholarship, and homebuilding projects in Nepal to help survivors
of the 2015 earthquake.
Thanks to changes made at the 2016 Council on Legislation, clubs
now have flexibility to operate as they think best. This means a
broader selection of club models in terms of how meetings take place.
By embracing this flexibility, we can create more examples like
Anil – a former e-club member who joined his father's Rotary
club. Further, I urge you to personally encourage Rotaractors to
take advantage of the option now available to join a Rotary club
while they are still members of Rotaract. And help them learn how
Our Foundation can help them achieve their dreams of doing good
in the world!
By taking action today, we can pave the way for more than 200,000
of Rotary's future leaders to leave their own legacy of making a
real difference for generations to come.
Paul A. Netzel
Trustee Chair 2017-18
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