Kissing frogs at Rotary meetings

Networking at Rotary meetings has received an undeserved bad rap.  I have even been told it violates Rotary policy.  It does not.  Some clubs fine members for doing business or exchanging business cards at meetings.  This is unfortunate. Networking at Rotary predates the concept of Service as part of Rotary. Paul Harris and the founders of Rotary established Rotary as a fellowship and networking opportunity for members.

In Past RI President Richard King’s “20 Answers Concept shot of exchange business card between man and womanto the Question Why Join Rotary” he states, “The second original reason for Rotary’s beginning is business development. Everyone needs to network. Rotary consists of a cross section of every business community. Its members come from all walks of life. Rotarians help each other and collectively help others.”

Networking is a valid reason to join Rotary. However, anyone who joins only for networking opportunities will be disappointed, the expected sales will not materialize. As source of contacts and as a valuable place to develop networking and leadership skills Rotary is second to none.


Networking is essential, not just in direct sales positions but to be successful in any business or profession. Rotary offers the opportunity to network and learn leadership skills.

In the book, “The Frog and Prince – Secrets of Positive Networkingthe authors, who conduct networking workshops outline essential steps in how to network.  They state that, “People will do business with people they know and trust, and trust is even more important today than it’s ever been.”

Networking is not about self-promotion. It is about discovering what you do for other people. Networking at Rotary may include helping someone find a job, meet a contact or supplier or offering your products and services to a Rotarian or one of their clients. In the “The Frog and Prince” sevencard tips for networking success are listed.  Tip number five is “maximize opportunities to expand your network”.

The book states that networking goes on all the time. Recognizing this is the key to success. Meeting people in both business and social situations, volunteering, joining local organizations, or giving your expertise for free are great ways to build your network. Sound like Rotary? Rotary is an ideal setting for members to both learn and practice networking skills.

Networking is for all Rotarians not just those in direct sales. When I was a police officer, I networked frequently at Rotary meetings, my own and other clubs.  I used my Rotary network to recruit members to the board of directors of the Crime Prevention Society, I drafted Rotarians to the Mayor’s Task Force on inner city crime and used networking to match various sections of the police department with clubs to carry out service projects related to traffic safety and crime prevention.51GMG5S1GEL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_

We should encourage our members to use Rotary as a networking opportunity, not discourage them. We need to bring new members into the informal groups in our clubs. Exchange business cards and tips on business opportunities. “The Frog and Prince” ends with a reminder that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince.

Go ahead, pass out your business card at your next Rotary meeting.

Posted in Leadership & Training, Membership, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

NEW Million Dollar Dinner Manual now online

A new Million Dollar Dinner manual written by Zone 24 – E/MGA Chris Offer and Zone 24 – MGO Carolyn Ferguson is now available.

A Rotary Million Dollar Dinner (MDD) is the celebration of a nine to twelve month fundraising campaign for The Rotary Foundation. The evening brings together donors who have made or pledged new contributions or bequests of US$10,000 or more to The Rotary Foundation during the campaign period.

Million Dollar Dinner ManualThe Million Dollar Dinner is a district or multi district sponsored event. It is not sponsored by RI or The Rotary Foundation. The Rotary Foundation does encourage MDDs and recommends the districts utilize the support of the Endowment/Major Gift Advisor (E/MGA) and Major Gift Officer (MGO) assigned to each zone. Districts determine campaign strategies that are appropriate for their region.

A senior Rotary leader is the keynote speaker at the dinner. The highlight of the event is the announcement with fanfare of the total amount raised for The Rotary Foundation.

The new manual incorporates many enhancements districts have integrated into successful MDDs. The manual is a resource for districts that are planning a dinner and it will be useful for districts that have never held a dinner in making the decision to host a MDD. The manual includes committee set up, promotion, types of gifts, available resources and examples of materials used by districts. The new manual is available online at:

With careful planning, using the diversity of resources available in every district and calling on The Rotary Foundation Zone Team a Million Dollar Dinner can be held successfully by every district. The key is planning, enthusiasm, promotion and a passion to “to do good in the world.”

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Working Together for the Good of Rotary: A Membership Initiative

Proud Rotarian decal/"cling" displayed by Vancouver members in their workplaces and on vehicles.

Proud Rotarian decal/”cling” displayed by Vancouver members in their workplaces and on vehicles.

The Vancouver Metropolitan-Area Membership Strategy

By Gayle Knepper, Rotary Coordinator, Z24W

When District 5040 (BC) leaders held the annual strategic planning meeting for the 2014-15 year, a topic discussed in depth was the health of clubs and the membership decline which had occurred over time.

In fact, when completing the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis at the session, two of the top-ranking threats were identified as:

  1. Not dealing with aging membership
  2. Not turning around the declining membership

It was critical to the future of the clubs, they determined, to focus action on these issues now, looking at new methods to turn around this troubling trend.

“Grow membership 15% over 5 years,” was the goal, to be reached through a combination of retention and new member/club development.  While they had already identified the WHAT — the issue, determined the HOW MUCH – the goal, and the WHEN to do it (now), the real job was just beginning. Leaders now faced the bigger task — HOW.

When looking at the historical data in detail to plan the strategy, another trend became apparent. Clubs in the smaller, distinct communities of the district were growing, while their sister clubs in Vancouver were shrinking. As the majority of the district’s population resides in urban Vancouver, this discovery carried an alarming prognosis if a solution was not found. For decades, the Vancouver (Downtown) club was considered to be the flagship in the region: in size and influence, and as the creator of multiple new clubs. For some years; however, the district trend had been going in a different direction: clubs in the stand-alone communities were gaining strength at the same time membership was shrinking in Vancouver, declining to the extent that some clubs were now struggling for survival.

In digging further, the leaders determined a key factor in this trend was “identity.” The smaller communities had a distinct identity, as did their Rotary clubs which had built an affinity with their communities. In the “big city,” there was less of that connectivity as residents often commuted across the city from home to job, passing though many neighborhoods, losing the bond and sense of support to any of those communities. Compounding this effect was the lack of coordinated membership and visibility development between the nine city-based clubs. With each conducting its own initiatives in different ways, it presented a confusing and fragmented message to the public. Finding a way to address these issues, a way for urban clubs to create a unified identity and common approach to membership, was crucial.

With these findings in hand, a team of district leaders was charged to develop a strategy: PDG Garry Shearer, PDG/membership chair Hans Doge, DGND Don Evans, and AGs Tom Smith and Bala Naidoo, all residents of the Vancouver area. To make the strategy truly effective, they recognized the best way, no matter what it was, needed to come from the clubs. They would provide the stimulus and an environment where club leaders could come together, to join in a discussion of the issues and identify common action. The target would be to help clubs see the benefits of working together — rather than competing — to solve road blocks related to growing membership. Tom Smith noted the primary objective from the district’s perspective was to find a way to stabilize clubs and to increase membership, using whatever path it took.

To launch club involvement, a pub night was scheduled to open the door for discussion and problem solving. Representatives of the area’s Rotary and Rotaract clubs participated in the facilitated session, with a small group of district leaders joining as observers. To ensure it was a club-driven process, the task force made a commitment to stay in the background and refrain from suggesting ideas. At the conclusion of this first meeting, participants concurred to move ahead and agreed on the next steps:

  • Confirm club representatives to take part in the planning process (the “champions”)
  • Expand the group to include other club members to form an ongoing Vancouver joint membership leadership team
  • Brainstorm and prioritize actions to address challenges
  • Develop a plan and timeline for implementation steps, including a club inventory, identification of needed support tools, a shared public communication strategy, to define what success looked like and a method of measuring results.
  • Four additional workshops with the club representatives took place between November and January to continue the discussion and reach agreement about specific strategies. By the third session, members agreed on mutual actions and an implementation plan was developed, called, “Rotary Clubs of Vancouver: Working Together.”

One of the challenges identified during this process was a lack of shared, effective membership tools. As some Rotarians were more comfortable than others at discussing Rotary with potential members, support materials identified were those which could be used easily by any member to deliver a consistent high-impact message and contain a common point of contact for more information.

From this discussion, six shared tools were developed for the initial launch:

  • Club PowerPoint – For champions to present the strategy at each club. It describes the initiative and the reasons, demonstrates the tools and describes how members can get involved.

“By working together we believe that Rotary can gain a higher profile and increased impact for good throughout our city, and also build increased relevance.”       Extract from the club PPT

  • Business card – To be used by any member in Vancouver when talking with non-Rotarians. It is customized with club information and includes a space for the Rotarian’s contact details. Members will tally how many cards are handed out, and the resulting number of guests and new members as the basis of measurement of success.
  • Membership brochure – Given to each club guest, including speakers, and distributed at every external club event.
  • “Proud Vancouver Rotarian” decals (clings) – Posted at members’ workplaces and on their cars.
  • Display booth – Used by clubs during public events.
  • Rotary Vancouver website – An outwardly-facing site with information about Rotary and why/how to get involved. It links to club sites and social media, and is printed on all membership materials.

(Tools can viewed at

The “Working Together” process has moved ahead to full roll out and club champions are now presenting the initiative at club meetings.

“This strategy pools the efforts and resources of all clubs,” Garry Shearer pointed out. A consistent approach will help to strengthen the visibility and membership of Rotary in the city of Vancouver, rather than having multiple individual plans underway. Tom noted that the process is already resulting in changes. For example, one club, realizing its image lacked clarity, has changed its name to create a closer connection with the community where it meets.

Don Evans added, “The process is helping Rotarians to recognize that we’re all working together for the good of Rotary in Vancouver, not only for my own club.”


For more information on the development of the Vancouver membership process, contact Don Evans, D5040,

If your district or club is seeking other ideas and tools, or need help in planning your membership strategy, contact the Rotary Coordinator in your region.

The outward-facing website used by all clubs in the Vancouver area, and referenced on all external materials. The site is at

The outward-facing website used by all clubs in the Vancouver area, and referenced on all external materials. The site is at

Posted in Leadership & Training, Membership, Planning, Rotary General, Rotary's Public Image, Support & Strengthen Clubs - Meetings, Support & Strengthen Clubs - Membership, Support and Strengthen Clubs - Mentorship | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Rotary Days on Ice

 RI President Gary Huang urged all Rotarians to Light up Rotary this year by participating in a Rotary Day- a fun informal event in the community to introduce the non-Rotary public to Rotary. On January 24th 2015 the Rotary Club of Burnaby Metrotown and the Burnaby Rotaract Club in District 5040 partnered with Canlan Burnaby 8 Rinks to offer a Rotary Free Public Skate.

Metrotown IMG_20150124_114941_837Club President Gloria Staudt stated “It was a big success…everything came together beautifully….Our partners in Canlan Burnaby 8 Rinks were happy to see so many people there, the best ever for them.”

The club involved Rotaractors on the planning committee and had display boards for Rotary and Rotaract.  Canlan 8 Rinks hung skate, polio and peace fellowship banners on the lobby railings the day before the event so their customers could see them.

Metrotown Club-display-board-whole---DSC_0030The Club promoted the event widely in their community:

  • a large banner hung on two local overpasses
  • ads in the local Burnaby Now newspaper
  • an editorial mention in both community papers
  • included on Burnaby 8 Rinks Public Skate schedule
  • flyer on the club website and Burnaby 8 rinks website
  • on vancity buzz
  • a flyer was sent to 72 local schools, circulated by members and posted on various community bulletin boards
  • submitted to local papers calendar of events listings

Metrotown IMG_5072They filled to capacity the maximum number of skaters (175) for each of the 2 skate times.  This event involved 350 skaters plus those who were walking around watching or talking with Rotarians about Rotary and Rotaract.

They had15 Rotarians show up to help along with 10 Rotaractors plus 3 friend helpers.  One Rotarian and one Rotaract did face painting and the Rotaractors made cotton candy. They gave out bottles of water with the new Rotary logo and hot chocolate to parents and kids. Kids got goodie bags to take home.  They gave out What is Rotary cards, Start with Rotary post cards, 2014 Rotary Facts brochure and past issues of the Rotarian

Gloria went on to say this was “Truly a great community event and team work including Rotaractors, business partner and partial sponsorship by Burnaby Now newspaper.  Everyone won and had a great time!”

Metrotown Near-theme-banner-and-polio-sign---DSC_0005Holding a Rotary Day can help your club increase membership, strengthen relationships between the club and local organizations and community members, and improve Rotary’s image in your community. Is your club planning a community event to Light up Rotary? Check out Rotary Days on the RI website at and learn more about hosting and celebrating a Rotary Day for your club.

Imagine the collective impact if all the clubs in your District and around the world made a concerted effort to introduce the public to the fun and rewarding experiences we all enjoy as Rotarians.

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Your Legacy – The Bequest Socity of The Rotary Foundation

This short video, in a unique visual way invites you to join The Rotary Foundation – Bequest Society. The video explains how the Bequest Society supports Rotary’s humanitarian and peace goals. It also describes the recognition members of the society receive and the $1 billion goal for the Endowment Fund.

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The Power of Teamwork for Rotary

Submitted by: PDG George Camp, ARPIC Zone 32spkr_GeorgeCamp_092010_web

The captivating power of “TEAMWORK” in The Rotarian community!
Just as it’s one thing to join a team, but quite another to perform as a team member. To put it simply, teams (CLUBS) don’t work without teamwork.
1) Teamwork creates synergy in a club – where the sum is greater than the parts.
2) Teamwork supports a more empowered way of making a difference in your community through our Rotary Club.
3) Teamwork fosters flexibility and responsiveness to those in need in their community.
4) Teamwork pleases Rotarian volunteers who like working with good teams and like minded volunteers.
5) Teamwork promotes the sense of achievement, equity and camaraderie, essential for a motivated volunteer environment.
6) Teamwork, amongst volunteering Rotarians, when managed properly, is a better way to work toward a common Goal!
Teamwork in Rotary is generally understood as the willingness of a group of Rotarians to work together to achieve a common aim. For example in Rotary we often use the phrase:” he or she is a good team player”. This means someone has the interests of the team at heart, working for the good of the team.
Teamwork is absolutely fundamental for Rotary Clubs and Districts to work effectively. Only when the skills and strengths of individual team members are joined with shared goals, and a focus on collective performance, will you start to see the benefits of a team at work. Why does this matter? Well language can sometimes be confusing. Teamwork is perhaps more helpfully understood as only part of what’s needed to create an effective Rotary Club.
Why is this distinction so important? Because whilst you can’t have a team (Effective Rotary Club) without teamwork, you can have teamwork without being a team!
It is important to remember that;
When a group of ROTARIANS work together cohesively, towards a common goal, creating a positive VOLUNTEER atmosphere, and supporting each other to combine individual strengths to enhance THE ROTARY CLUBS team performance, we can effect change in our community. That community, whether in our back yard or around the world is Rotary’s job one.
This three minute video Ohio Amish Barn Raising graphically shows the value of teamwork.

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Alphabet Soup of Rotary – Rotary Acronyms

graphicLike many organizations Rotary uses acronyms. Rotary is not unique in using  acronyms. It is common in all organizations, big and small. A sports report on the news would take twice as long without the use of acronyms.

There is a time and place for everything and using acronyms is no exception. The whole point of using these abbreviation in your Rotary presentations and writing is to clearly communicate. However, if you misuse or abuse acronyms, you’ll accomplish just the opposite, turning your communications into a baffling cocktail of gobbledygook.

Can you understand these two sentences?

• The RRFC suggested the DG ask the DRFC to promote PHFS and EREY to increase DDF to fund a VTT.
• The RPIC and RC talked to PEs at PETS about benefits of RLI to understand TRF.

Here is an updated list of Rotary acronyms. GSE and DSG have been retired and we introduced VTT, RPIC and EMGA.

To download a copy click HERE

Rotary Acronyms

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