Imagine if we could take a snapshot capturing all of the work Rotary does on a given day. No one – except Rotarians – would believe that a single organization was capable of accomplishing so much. In that snapshot you would see dedicated volunteers working to eradicate polio, setting up microloans, providing clean water, mentoring youth, and countless other actions.
We can do all this thanks both to our geographic reach and to the fact that our clubs are made up of people who are engaged in their communities. As a part of the community that you serve, you know the needs, you have the connections, and you’re able to take immediate action. That’s why every Rotary club’s membership should reflect the diversity of its community.
We’ve made great strides in this. In Egypt, Indonesia, and Kenya, Rotary is approaching 50 percent female membership. We’re also expanding the age diversity of our clubs. In each of our communities, young professionals are eager to contribute their talents, give back, and learn from mentors. Let’s share with them what Rotary is all about. The Engaging Younger Professionals Toolkit at Rotary.org has an action plan to help you reach young leaders and Rotary alumni in your area.
Another resource that can help us better reflect our communities – one that is global like us, is a quarter-million members strong, and already shares our values of service and leadership – is Rotaract.Rotaractors are our partners: Team up with them on projects, ask them to speak at your events, and invite them to join your club. Dedicated Rotaractors worldwide are becoming members of Rotary and even starting new Rotary clubs while still serving as members of Rotaract.
The world needs Rotary, and Rotary needs strong clubs and engaged members in order to do more good. It is our responsibility – yours and mine – to make sure everyone who shows an interest in joining Rotary gets an invitation. Make use of the Membership Leads tool at Rotary.org, which helps people who are interested in joining Rotary connect with a club that’s right for them. And let’s ensure that every member has a reason to stay. By building strong clubs that engage in meaningful projects and have fun along the way, we provide value to our club members that they cannot find anywhere else.
Let’s not keep Rotary’s story – the story captured in those snapshots of service – to ourselves. I challenge you to invite leaders of all ages, men and women, who are looking for a way to give back. By doing so, you will Be the Inspiration in your community and help Rotary continue to do good in the world.
President, Rotary International