Service opportunities and fellowship.  That is why we joined Rotary and that is why we stay … if we get enough of these.  Among us we will have different preferences – some of us thrive if we are engaged in service projects.  While others like the projects, although tend to enjoy the fellowship more.  But if we do not get enough of what we want, our support of Rotary will slowly dwindle away.
Imagine if as a Rotarian, you were able to pick and choose what interested you from a wide range of options at any time of the year.  Whether a service project or social activity, whether created by your club or others. Think of the people you would meet and the experiences and satisfaction you would enjoy.  Isn’t that the sort of vibrancy that drew you to Rotary?
>> This is an Opinion piece designed to highlight an issue and generate thought and action.<<
The current crisis has changed life for many of us, not the least for those whose work environments have changed.  Many workplaces are saying “Don’t come back into the office.  Work from home.” For many this has removed or diminished the socialisation they used to get on a daily basis and frankly they are missing it immensely.  It is not just in the work environment where this is happening as many meeting places have greatly reduced the opportunities for people to gather and socialise in-person.
This includes some Rotary clubs where instead of meeting weekly in-person, they are continuing to Zoom.  While this may be a good fit for some, it may not be welcomed by many for whom the weekly get-together is important.
So, is there are way forward that resolves both the desire for people to be engaged in community service and to get the social contact they crave?
The answer is yes.  The ‘but’ is that clubs have to do things only a little differently and what they do better.
Whether clubs are doing service projects or social-type events, these are clearly good fits for the reasons we join Rotary – for service and fellowship.  Projects combine both as you plan and work alongside others and fellowship events are where we focus on the social.
In designing projects, clubs tend to look inward at the number of members and maybe family, who are likely to put their hands up to make that project work.  Rarely will a project be designed in a way that is scalable depending on the number of potential volunteers it could accommodate.  In other words, we do not enable our projects to maximise their capacity to do good, largely because we have not thought through a way to grow the number of potential participants in the project or event (service or social). 
To repeat, if a project is designed to be scalable to a maximum capacity then the risk and performance of the project remain in firm control as you work with the actual number of people available.  The great news is there already exists a means for projects to access a greater capacity to do greater good; we just need to remember to use this system.  Yes, this is a new way of thinking and will take time to grow its potential, but it will happen and will stimulate improvements to how the system operates over time.
People join a club, but membership of that club does not restrict them in any way from engaging in other activity in Rotary whether locally or internationally.  Not-at-all.  
Many people join Rotary with a preference for a certain type of activity (and if they cannot engage in it though Rotary, they may well not stay in Rotary and seek these elsewhere).  An example might be the Rotarian joining to do environmental projects.  Their club may do two or three in a year, but they want more.   If these environmental projects are happening elsewhere in Rotary, they could become involved in those as well, but they need to be made aware of these other projects.  The outcome is a larger and more effective project because of the increase in participation and a happier and more committed Rotarian because they are doing what they prefer.
So, what to do?
  • The most crucial aspect is to plan the project or event as scalable and is designed to be welcoming to volunteers and create a great experience (another topic for another time).  It may be that initially that you don't see a difference, but Rotary is a “long game” … stay the course and you will grow.
  • Make sure that you publicise your project or event well.  Well in advance and ‘attractively’ on all your available club media (for example website, Facebook, bulletin).  Use graphics and words that attract.  This means that anyone accessing any of your club media will be attracted and encouraged to join in.
  • Consider using a chat function like Slack or Workplace for Facebook as part of your publicity so interested people can get hold of the organisers for the information and reassurance they need.  These options can be created solely for the project and keep things "noise free".
  • Make sure your project is detailed on the Events function on your club website and if using ClubRunner, that the Event is visible on the District Events function (a simple checkbox does this).  Remember that Events in ClubRunner enable online registrations.
  • Make sure you let the relevant district committee know about the project or event or ASK them to support publicising this.
  • Make sure you let other clubs know by emailing them.
  • Make sure you ask the District Publicity Committee to help publicity – this will often be through a link on the District Homepage and the District Newsletter.
  • Expand your publicity into your community through community media and your club contacts and networks (sponsors, supporters, family, members and don't forget those you have helped).
  • Allow non-Rotarians to volunteer for the sake of volunteering.  Do not pressure them for further involvement, although make the invitation to continue engagement known.
  • Publicise early and frequently.  Do not procrastinate … once you have the most important details confirmed get the event out there and into people’s diaries.  The finer details can follow (in plenty of time though).
  • Crucially, emphasise that the project or event welcomes anyone wanting to join in.
In doing the above, you open opportunities for a more vibrant Rotary.
Start now.