Programme week commencing 19th April

For 23 years I was the wife of a Rotarian, happy to support whatever Tim’s current club was doing, but not wishing to join. Why? From the outside I saw a group of mainly old men who met weekly for a meal and listen to a talk on a random subject, occasionally as a wife I would get to go to a social do where we’d pay over the odds price for the meal we got (but it was fundraising so that was ok), there would be a raffle (for more fundraising) and another talk on a random subject.  Sometimes I got to freeze to death shaking a collecting bucket outside a superstore. I have to admit, I did wonder why Tim was so keen to belong, especially since there was more moaning about internal politics than talking about what Rotary was achieving.

Then we discovered Facebook and started networking with Rotarians around the world, some very special friendships started to develop and a desire to join Rotary began.  Then we went to the Rotary International Convention in New Orleans and I saw a very different aspect of Rotary. Wow! The international networking, sharing of ideas, understanding cultures, working together to serve each others communities, I could tangibly feel the impact this mighty international organisation has on our World. This I wanted to be part of.

At the RI Convention Tim and I attended a workshop on eClubs and picked up lots of ideas. Yesterday I sat in on a webinar run by RI in support of Rotarians setting up eClubs around the World.  There were 2 panellists, the first from an Indian eClub that charted a year ago and are still working at setting themselves up and have only a local membership in Delhi, the second was from the USA South West eClub who were one of the original pilot eClubs who have now been running for around 10 years and have a large international membership.  It was encouraging to realise that we are on the right tracks and I wanted to share with you some of the key points I picked up on.

The challenges faced by new clubs seem to be similar the World over: Delegation of Responsibility – Authority & Accountability; Team work; Building a sense of belonging; Appreciation & Credibility; To develop attachment & co-operation amongst members.  The need to bond as a team of friends was emphasised. ACTION REQUIRED: We are changing the name of the Forums to ‘Action Groups’ and leads of these groups to ‘Co-ordinators’ as a way of developing focussed team work and sharing of delegated responsibility to help facilitate things to happen.

Internationally, membership of eClubs is tending to be Rotarians who can no longer attend or access a traditional Rotary club, so they come with an understanding of what Rotary is all about.  Here we differ in that the majority of our eClub are new to Rotary and that I believe has presented us with an extra challenge. ACTION REQUIRED: How many of you have read the Induction material on the website? Was it useful? We believe strongly in reaching out to new people to engage in Rotary, what are your ideas of how this is best done?

The ways fellowship have been encouraged are: Forums on eClub’s websites; Private messaging; Emails; Facebook – one member to another; Facebook – Rotary eClub page; Skype; Teleconferencing; Social gatherings – face to face with Skype.  Business networking is integrated into this. ACTION REQUIRED: Ideas about how we can build on our fellowship?  Are we good at making new provisional members feel welcome?

The front home pages of their websites were more targeted at members and interactive with links with ‘teasers’ to the weekly programme and updates on projects. Visitors had their own tab to take part in the programme, but they could also see highlights of the eClub activity from the front page. Both had a chat room for members. Writing the weekly programmes was shared between all members, but they were short and encouraged chat and were also topped and tailed by notices, celebration of birthdays / anniversaries and relevant updates on service projects. ACTION REQUIRED: Kevin and Heather, our Webmasters, are currently building our new website platform, your feedback on how you imagine the website to work effectively is vital and needed now.

Service projects undertaken were tangible. A member identifies a project in their community or through an international contact and the eClub supports with sharing business / professional skills, knowledge and contacts, hands on support and where required fund raising. ACTION REQUIRED: At our eClub Assembly in June we will agree which key charities/causes we will support as a club in the next Rotary year, which ones would you propose to be considered?

I am excited by this journey we are on, that through the eClub structure we all have the privilege to be part of Rotary and knit it into the fabric of our busy lives, in whatever pattern suits us best.  What a wonderful way to make an impact on the World alongside good friends.

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0 thoughts on “eClubs and the Potential they offer Rotary

  1. Mentor-Sue says:

    I followed the same path as you for 20plus years too Janice as a Rotary spouse. I enjoyed Rotary ‘second hand’. Firstly because I perceived I was far too busy to be a Rotarian but more importantly because at that time in my locality, there wasn’t a club for my gender to join. I now enjoy my Rotary as a member of a breakfast club but I’m able to get the best of both worlds. The eclub has opened up the Rotary world for me. Social networking is truly amazing even for a social networking virgin. Sharing ideas and thinking outside the conventional box whilst meeting folk I would never have otherwise met.

    Really interesting points also made in your post Janice. I’ve made a note of action points to discuss with Maria as her mentor. Really looking forward to your Charter Day which will be ‘the event’ on the May Rotary calendar.

  2. Yzanne Martin Hallett says:

    Lots of things for us all to do, and we must. It concerns me, that as a club, there are very few people who offer information, pass comment, or perhaps have taken time to even read each weeks briefing. I know we are all busy, and that is perhaps one of the reasons why we are not members of traditional clubs, but I firmly believe the only way this, or any other club has a future, is if we all do our bit. It would be great to see those who are a little quieter online, to acknowledge they have read the site each week and how they are taking things forward.
    Building the e-club to 100 members is great, but if 90 of them are silent, in thought, word or action, then, not only is it hard work for the other 10. One has to question why one is a Rotarian in the first place. Is being a member of an e-club seen as being easier than a traditional club? If being a Rotarian matters so much to us all, why are we Rotarians, what do we get from it – what do we give to it? Janice has told us a lot – come one everyone lets hear from some others.

  3. Lorna Breslin says:

    I have to say that I am probably one of the 90 who has yet to become more familiar with the e-club and visit the site and post more regularly.
    I think that Janice and Tim do a fantastic Job and so do the other contributors.

    I am a busy lady and I do know that I need to make time to look at the website, read what’s going on and see if I can contribute in some way.

    I do apologize for my absence, and I am going to take a bit of ‘me time’ to make sure I check in a post on a weekly basis. If I do start slacking, please do give me a nudge and let me know, I will not be offended.

    … So what makes me so busy! – well I am an Assistant Head and I work in a special needs school for young people who have learning difficulties ranging from severe to profound and multiple including complex medical needs. I love my job and have lots of responsibilities that go with it.

    We are quite busy at the moment as we are opening a charity shop that will be run by the students. This will be a fantastic venture and will give our students opportunities and experiences of what it is like in the world of work. (Our students are aged 11 to 19 , although we are also looking into going beyond 19 to 25. However this is a work in progress.

    As you can imagine, there are lots of processes that we are going through in order to make sure everything is in place before we can open the shop. (I’m currently drafting all the risk assessments).
    I will keep everyone updated with regards to when the shop will be open and maybe a few of you could come and visit.

    OK, so why did I join the Rotary e-club! – Well I moved from Penhill where I lived for 26 Years and left behind a community that I loved and was very active in. I belonged to various community groups and was Editor of the Penhill News since 2009. I am a people person and like working with people from all walks of life and enjoy community spirit. Since moving home in October 2011
    I left it all behind and resigned at Editor for the community news letter as I felt that it was something that needed to stay with the people of the community. My work commitments also take up a big part of my life as do my children and grandson. I joined the Rotary e-club so that I can give/put something back/help etc.when I can. The 6 weeks summer holiday will be when Ican contribute my time in some way.

    I think the Rotary e-club is certainly the way to go for us busy bods and well done Tim, Janice and fellow members

    Lorna

  4. Tim Mason says:

    Lorna thanks for your interesting and informative post, myself and Janice will do all we can to support the new shop that is being set up and perhaps other members who live near Swindon will help as well. Please let us know what is needed.

    I wonder if sometime we could also help your school by sponsoring the setting up of an Interact Club for 14 -18 year olds.

    • Lorna Breslin says:

      Many thanks Tim.
      The Charity Shop should be ready and up and running for September.The lease has been secured and we are going through the legal processes that we need to at present.
      The shop will be called ‘The Shop’ as the young people will relate to the name. The location of The Shop will be within Oakhurst. It is going to be opposite Isambard school and was once a Chemists, there is an Estate Agents next door. We will be serving tea, coffee and cake in the shop as well as selling secondhand clothes etc. and wares that the young people have made. It is a really exciting venture and not only will it give our young people the same opportunities as their mainstream peers for work experience and enterprise skills, it will also bridge a gap and make people aware that these young people are part of our society. This will also help to break down barriers and help people understand that these young people have a lot to give and are great personalities. I am really looking forward to it. I will let you know when the official opening day has been set. I will also let you know when we are taking donations of clothes, books etc. When it does open it would be lovely if people could support us by popping in for a coffee and a chat with the young people.

      Tim, yes for a future project an interaction club would be fantastic.

      Lorna

  5. Yzanne Martin Hallett says:

    Thanks for sharing what you do and why the eclub with us Laura, it’s really good to find out more. Your school sounds challenging, but very rewarding I am sure. The idea of the shop is brilliant to give the children opportunities to experience work. Good luck with it.

  6. Mary says:

    I am stepping cautiously into the world of Rotary and intend to go to a district event in Gloucester on Sat. Will anybody else be there?

    I think the new website should make it clearer where you want us to post comments.

    I am self employed as a mental health user consultant which means I have a mental illness diagnosis (BiPolar Disorder)and try to earn a living speaking out and trying to make the mental health system better.

    Best wishes,

    Mary

    • Janice Mason says:

      Tim and I will be at the District Assembly in Gloucester next Saturday. We’ll make sure we meet up as these sort of events are much better if you’re with other people.

    • Kevin Dontenville says:

      Hi Yzanne,

      That is an interesting idea, normally the story unfolds in a linear way, following a thread down so people get a sense of what has already been said. Your idea would perhaps keep things rolling more but perhaps people might miss things? What about a +1 type thing to show the most popular or agreed with comments? Any other thoughts from other members? Maybe a choice?

  7. Yzanne Martin Hallett says:

    A small idea becomes so complicated doesn’t it?! I agree the thread can be lost, but it’s how a filing system works, perhaps there is a way when you get to the bottom of a comment you can ping up to the next one rather than have to scroll up? I also like the idea of +1 but at the moment many of our posts are long and include a lot of ideas so unless we change our habits maybe that won’t work, I don’t know.
    Perhaps you can clear something up for me – the difference on comments and reply and where things then post on the site – Personally I’d like to see comments when you hit reply go under the posting rather than a separate entry – it would make for less entires and continuity perhaps.

    • Kevin Dontenville says:

      Ahh OK, terminology, clarity and the assumptions the WP designers make… you have to click reply button in the comment itself rather than just a new ‘reply with a comment to the post’ in the comment box – replies are comments that you can reply to – helpful isnt it.

      They are, as you see, nested so you can reply to an individual comment – and they usually let you reply up to 5 deep – ie a reply to a comment in reply to a comment in reply to a comment in to a reply to a comment in to a reply to a comment.. but any more than 2 or three and it can get messy 😉

      I think when we switch sites concise brevity will be key – clarity too!

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