Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending the President-Elect Training Seminar (PETS) in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was an amazing experience and one that will follow me the rest of my life. At the seminar, we had several leadership sessions designed to equip us to be leaders in our club for the coming year. As the President-Elect for the Rotary Club of North Raleigh, I attended to learn more about Rotary and its impact on the community and the world.
During my time there, I was fortunate to hear from Past Rotary International President Bill Boyd from New Zealand. He had a strong message for us to explain the benefits of Rotary . He covered the results from the international consultancy firm that Rotary International hired to assess its brand and marketing. After thousands of dollars being spent on public relations, membership has not grown over the past several years. So, they had hired Siegel & Gale to do an assessment of this organization. The results were both astounding and eye-opening.
First, they pointed out that Rotary’s brand had become too complicated and thus, lost all strength. We speak of leaders and leadership at our conventions, but our marketing materials do not reflect this aspect of Rotary. We speak our own language that is not easily understood by the outside world. It showed that non-Rotarians had either never heard of us or did not clearly understand what we did or are. It ultimately showed that we, as Rotarians, do not know how to easily explain who we are or what we do. They went on to express that if we do not know this, we cannot easily explain it to those who may be interested in our organization.
This group found some great strengths within Rotary that many of us take for granted or do not fully understand. They expressed that we connect well with our members, other clubs, communities and with those who can help us accomplish our projects. We are a group of “responsible leaders, both socially and ethically”, who gains strength from our classification, which means a diversity of professions. Our diversity in general helps us to think differently and act differently. The report shared that Rotarians join their club to have a positive impact in their communities and for the friendships they develop. This is the same reason they stay with their clubs.
“Audiences want what Rotary offers; we just need to help them understand what we do”, commented Bill Boyd in his speech on Friday evening. The cause is not simply a lack of communication but it goes much more beyond this simplistic answer. We need a better message to communicate. “The new gold standard for an organization like ours is a clear focus, accountability, and proven impact. We can do all of this.”
Siegel & Gale recommended that we do not limit ourselves to categorizing Rotary as a service organization or a humanitarian organization as we are much more than these narrow definitions. We are in a Category of One.
Rotary is in a Category of One because we Think Differently. The way we build our membership we have the diversity of thought that “allows us to see challenges and opportunities in ways that others can’t”.
We Act Differently! With the membership consisting of responsible leaders in business, professions, and communities, we take on our efforts with the best in business practices to accomplish great social results.
We have passion and perseverance. Whenever you speak with a Rotarian, the passion is prevalent as they speak about the good they are doing in the world. Considering the effort we have spent on eradicating polio in the world, this shows the perseverance that Rotarians have. We are close to eradicating this terrible plague, and Rotarians will not give up until we have accomplished this grand goal.
We conduct community service on a Global Scale. Partnering with clubs around the world, Rotarians conduct community projects that impact these communities in a positive way. Whether it is a water well in Africa or a literacy program in Guatemala, we partner with local clubs to make the greatest impact we can. This is also unique.
As you may imagine, this speech was very impactful to me and the many Rotarians in attendance. I have found the entire speech on the Internet and if you wish to view it, you can click on the following link. Bill Boyd Speech.
Thank you for reading this post. If you cannot tell, I get a little passionate about Rotary. I think we have a great club in North Raleigh and truly believe we are ‘doing good in the world’.