On November 27th we were joined in our Zoom meeting by the President of Rotary GBI Tom Griffin, who spoke to us about the future challenges facing Rotary.
President Kevin reports..
Tom shared some of his thoughts for Rotary’s future with us, challenging us to spread the word and ensure that York Rotary is around for another 100 years to serve humanitarian needs in communities locally, nationally and internationally.
Tom told us that when he joined Rotary in 1984 he enjoyed the opportunities he was presented with to give back to society; of making a new circle of friends and acquaintances in many countries around the world; of friends he hasn’t met yet but who share the same ethos; of being afforded many opportunities to travel the world with a support network to hand. He told us he has (and still does) enjoyed making a difference to the lives of ordinary people locally, nationally and internationally. He recounted his ‘Rotary moment’ as being when a Romanian Rotarian, a paediatrician on a sponsored exchange, told a group of Rotarians how her visit to the UK to learn new paediatric techniques had changed her life. What is your own Rotary moment?
Tom told us that whilst the humanitarian work of Rotary is a serious business and at the forefront of being a Rotarian it should be done with a sense of fun and fellowship and with a purpose of personal development and growth. In Tom’s opinion Rotary will remain relevant as long as humanitarian charity work is required in the world and for this reason Rotary is still a gift to young people and will offer them opportunities which they may not find elsewhere.
Tom reminded us that young people want to be active in their communities but perhaps see the frequency of meetings, the cost, the age of our membership and ‘quaint’ meeting formats as barriers to their involvement. Tom suggested that whilst the traditional model may not appeal to younger people it has its place with some of the current membership but we need to be brave enough to create new models rather than try to fit younger people into old ones. Tom suggested that we cannot expect the world to look the same post-Covid and must ask ourselves ‘are we attractive to the next generation?’, reminding us that membership losses are currently more severe than at any other time in Rotary’s history. Tom encouraged us to look at our club and ask ourselves, ‘do we represent the future of Rotary in our community?’ He praised our fundraising record but commented (more generally) that fundraising alone is not attractive to younger generations, they want to participate in service projects. He challenged us to take our message out to local businesses and individuals; he reminded us that at the macro level the future of Rotary is in our hands.
In our Centenary year we are asking ourselves questions as part of the visioning exercise. Are we attractive to the next generation? How do we remain relevant, vibrant, active and attractive to future generations? Rotary is a gift …. but it needs to be given. The future of York Rotary is in our hands.