If you have a perception of Rotary as a group of retired businessmen standing around at a boring meeting talking about their golf handicap and eating bad food, think again.
Just like other long-standing service organisations, Rotary has had to modernise in order to survive. This has meant opening its doors to women, actively recruiting young people and, in some cases, rethinking the traditional meeting programme.
Whangaparaoa Rotary membership convenor Richard Leach says that while membership is growing in Asia, it is declining in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
“It’s meant revising our thinking to make membership easier and more attractive,” he says.
A survey of the public perception of Rotary showed that four in 10 people had never heard of Rotary, another four in 10 had heard of Rotary, but didn’t have any idea of what it did. The remaining two in 10 had negative opinions about the service club.
Richard says the bad news about the next generation is that they don’t think that Rotary is relevant to them. The good news is that they already have the values the organisation is looking for in a new member.
“The next generation of prospective leaders has a heart for making a difference in the world. What they need to hear is how that is relevant to them and that we actually want them as members. What attracts the younger generation is the chance to personally make a difference and the friendships they make in an organisation where they fit in, and this is also important in retaining these young people.”
For more than 110 years, Rotary has been making a difference to people lives locally, nationally and internationally.
On the Coast, this manifests itself in many ways. On the international front, Rotarians contribute to the PolioPlus campaign for the eradication of polio worldwide and have provided hands-on support in Vanuatu, including the rebuild a remote school destroyed in a cyclone. Nationally, the club supports multiple sclerosis and blood pressure campaigns, and locally, Rotarians have raised funds for a range of community projects, with a particular emphasis on youth. The club offers tertiary scholarships, support for students attending events such as the National Science and Technology Forum, and supports the libraries’ summer reading programme.
Richard says events such as the Soap Box Derby, and more recently the RotarySwimarathon (a joint Rotary Hibiscus event), charity dinners and the annual Charity Golf Day are not just opportunities to fundraise.
“Friendship and support networks for members are important elements of the club. As well as fundraising events, the annual programme provides plenty of opportunity for members to have fun with activities such as Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner evenings, pot luck dinners, summer barbecues, Christmas parties and outings.”
Can you help?
The club is keen to attract new members to help it in its support of the Hibiscus Coast community, through events and projects. The club meets at the Silverdale & Districts RSA on Thursdays at 6.15pm for 6.45pm. Enquiries can also be directed to the secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org