R. I. President Message


RI President 2020-21 Holger Knaack - January 2021

Dear Fellow Rotarians, Rotaractors, and friends,

January is finally here. As we look forward to 2021, our thinking doesn’t have to stop at the end of these 365 days. Are you thinking ahead about what you will be doing in 2022, 2023, and beyond?

We cannot foresee the future, but we can steer ourselves where we want to go. I think it is important that every Rotary club hold a strategic meeting at least once a year. Past RI Director Greg Yank, who has a lot of experience working with clubs on their plans, shares his viewpoint.

A famous aphorism states, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Planning is essential to achieving success in all areas of life, including Rotary, and we’re getting better at it every year.

Strategic planning for Rotary clubs works. I have helped many clubs find that pathway by working with them to build what I call a blueprint, a multiyear plan that answers the fundamental question: “What is our vision for our club?” The best plans I have seen are those that are focused, when a club concentrates its resources on the best opportunities it has. Your Rotary club cannot be all things to its members and to the community it serves; it has limited human, financial, and time resources. A successful plan factors in assets and limitations to chart the desired pathway for your members.

Begin building a multiyear strategic plan by brainstorming with your club, asking, “What are our initiatives and priorities for the next two to three years?” Document your answers using action-oriented language that is specific, concrete, and measurable about the goals you want to achieve.

Next, narrow down your initiatives to a core set of three to five priorities. Your club will then develop specific objectives for each initiative, outlining who will be involved, key milestones of achievement, how progress will be tracked, and a timeline for completion. Keep your plan short and simple.

Then go out and do it. Review the progress you make toward accomplishing the initiatives, and revise as needed at least once a year. Rotary has a solid template to assist clubs in their planning, which you can find at my.rotary.org/en/document/strategic-planning-guide.

We want to enrich and enliven our clubs with new discussions and ideas. But how do we attract the diverse professionals, from different backgrounds, ages, and experiences, who are all driven by as strong a sense of integrity as we are?

Through strategic planning, we explore this question to define the very nature of our club and the value it offers to its members and to the community. Each club is different, and each club’s value will be unique. During the planning process, clubs may also find that some of the activities they used to do are no longer relevant or attractive.

Once your club makes a strategic plan, it’s time to take action and carry out the necessary changes. When we do that — as we engage members in vibrant and active clubs that not only have fun but also serve their communities with projects that have real and lasting impact — our clubs grow stronger. And when we discover what makes our own clubs unique and build upon those core values in all our efforts, Rotary Opens Opportunities to enrich the lives of everyone.

President 2020-21

Trustee Chair's Message - Jan. 2021

K.R. Ravindran
Rotary Club of Colombo
Western Province, Sri Lanka

Trustee chair's message
Having grown up amid lush green forests in the mountainous landscape of Sri Lanka, I always recall the words of the great poet Rabindranath Tagore: “Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.”

How sad that so often we humans insist on interrupting this conversation.

Just like every other living thing, we are a part of nature. But we are also the only species that bears the responsibility of protecting the environment for future generations. The coronavirus pandemic has shed light as nothing has before on the relationship between environmental degradation and threats to public health.

A few years ago, the government-owned electricity company in my country planned to build a second coal power plant, in eastern Sri Lanka. It would suck 93 million liters of water per hour from a bay where fragile ecosystems meet the deep sea, the site of one of the largest spawning grounds for sperm whales in the world. After processing, those 93 million liters per hour would be dumped into the ocean, now loaded with toxic chemicals that put that marine life at great risk.

Learning from the lessons of the damage caused by the first plant, a coalition formed, made up of many public advocates, including Rotarians. They ran a campaign that alerted the media, the public, and the local community to the potential dangers, in addition to taking legal action. The government eventually abandoned its coal plant idea after the resulting public outcry.

We can truly move mountains when we come together.

When some of us moved to add the environment as Rotary’s newest cause, we did so because of the urgency of the problem. In 1990-91, RI President Paulo V.C. Costa set forth a vision, and today we will take this work to the next level. We live in a time of great stress on our environment, of rapidly rising sea levels, massive storms, disappearing rain forests and wildlife, and destructive forest fires. Climate change touches us all, rich and poor.

We will face the challenge strategically, as with the other areas of focus. In fact, the six other areas of focus depend on this one. For what good is it to fight disease if our polluted environment causes us to become sick again?

The Rotary Foundation will be central to this work. More than $18 million has gone toward environment-related global grants in the past five years. Building upon this work to protect the environment, we will give yet another Rotary gift to future generations. And you can be a part of it today.



K.R. Ravindran
Trustee Chair 2020-21

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