Rotary International President, Mark Maloney,
has urged clubs in Great Britain & Ireland to think
differently in a bid to grow the organisation in these
The Rotarian from Decatur in Alabama, flew into London
with his wife Gay on Sunday from Zimbabwe, where they
spent a week in Mutare with a team of doctors from India
working at the St Joseph Mission Hospital. The doctors
were part of a Rotary Vocational Team from District 3080
in India whose work was made possible by a grant from
the Rotary Foundation.
Mark and Gay are in London for four days, and today (Monday)
they were attending the Commonwealth Service at Westminster
Abbey. On Sunday evening, the couple met Rotaractors
and Rotarians from London at the Royal Overseas League
Marking the start of World Rotaract Week, the Rotary
International President spoke passionately about the need
to embrace Rotaract as a catalyst for growth
“We are living in interesting times – and
not just with Covid-19,” he said. “We are
moving into a new era.
“We estimate that 5% of Rotaractors convert to become
Rotarians later on. That is why we are doing away with
a maximum age limit, so they stay as Rotaractors and then
they hopefully transition.
“We want every Rotaractor to a Rotary club, or
we want a Rotaract club to convert to a Rotary club, because
we consider a Rotary club to be the premier experience.”
There are more than 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide and
35,000 clubs. Mark Maloney admitted there were still many
countries in the world where Rotary was under-represented.
One potential growth area is China where, excluding Hong
Kong, Macau and the Shenzhen economic area, there are
currently 28 Rotary clubs in mainland China among a population
of 1.38 billion.
“In China, there is potential,” insisted
the Rotary International President. “We are not
fully registered in China.
“The government has shown up at some meetings and
we are in the middle of that process, but right now the
Chinese Government is, understandably, not really focussed
on our application.
“But we have been in the process and they haven’t
yet told us ‘no’. The Chinese Government recognises
what Rotary is accomplishing.”
But Mark Maloney insisted that while Rotary is looking
at growth in some previously untapped parts of the world,
the emphasis was on clubs in Great Britain and Ireland
to reach out to untapped parts of their communities.
“One of the key points of my year is that in the
UK and the USA, and in those countries where Rotary is
‘mature’, we need to be forming new, innovative,
different Rotary clubs,” he insisted. “Because
we are not serving all the segments of society.” Mark
Maloney pointed out that some of Rotary’s traditions
and long-practised ways of doing Rotary was deterring
the younger generation from getting involved.Meeting times
were excluding some sectors of the community, the protocols
and rituals were also a deterrent, as was the cost of
a weekly meal.
“There are people who are interested in providing
humanitarian service, but who don’t want to do it
through a club which has this traditional, ritualistic
way of operating,” he pointed out.
“There are people who also want to perform service,
but they either cannot or will not pay what it takes to
be a member.
“So I submit that where we need to be expanding
Rotary is not just in those countries which have one club
or a few clubs, but in communities where Rotary is thriving,
because we are not serving members of those communities.“Rotary
clubs today are not doing anything wrong. We have many
communities where we have fabulous clubs, doing fantastic
work. They still attract new members, they are not collapsing,
but we have got to start to segmenting our approach.
“We need new, different, innovative Rotary clubs.
“Some people may find this shocking, but there is
nothing in Rotary’s constitutional documents which
says that food is required to have a meeting.
“Neither is there anything which says that a programme
has to happen in order to have a meeting.
“You can have a club that comes together in a bar
twice a month for 45 minutes, for a little fellowship,
a lot of project planning, which goes out and does great
community service, and which will be a wonderful Rotary
“It may not be to everyone’s taste, but I
guarantee there are younger people who would like to be
a member of that Rotary club.”
At the London gathering, Mark Maloney welcomed the newest
Rotaract club in Great Britain & Ireland, the Rotaract
Club of London.
He also paid tribute to polio campaigner, Colin Powell,
from Radlett Rotary in Hertfordshire as he was presented
with a People of Action award.