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.