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of difficulties. But now that clubs have been formed in almost
every potential location and the membership well on toward its
classification or numerical limits, the problem is not nearly so complex.
Comparatively few new members are admitted in a year in the majority
of clubs. Perhaps the greater number now admitted fill vacancies
caused by death, removal, or change of business classification.
Would it not be well then for Rotary International to first suggest
and later perhaps, if necessary, place in its by-laws a provision that in
Rotary clubs established a certain number of years, no new member
shall be admitted over a certain age? That age may be 35, 40 or 45
as may seem best. This writer believes 35 about right. By this simple
expedient, we could commence to establish a balance and bring about
a condition whereby we could stabilise and retain an active and
In order that a workable basis for controlling, as far as may be
feasible, the average age of membership and to learn just how we
stand at present, it might be practical to conduct a survey among our
present clubs. Each club might send out a blank, calling for the age of
each member, such blank making it clear that it need not be signed.
When the total is complete from those who respond, an average can
be struck off, giving with a fair degree of accuracy the present average
age of Rotarians. It may be that such a survey will shoot this article
full of holes. Nevertheless, it never does a business or an organisation
any harm to have all the facts possible bearing upon the progress and
prosperity of that business or organisation.
Another suggestion, advanced by one of my fellow members in
Toledo Rotary – a man of about 70 – contemplates the retirement
of the older members at a given age to an associate or other-named
affiliation, giving up the active classification to a younger man, perhaps
recommended or at least endorsed by the retiring active member. This
will commend itself to many minds, it is to be hoped, as a generous,
wise and far-seeing idea – fully unselfish and in line with one of our
watch-words, Service Above Self.
Naturally, no real Rotarian, even were he tottering on his last legs,
would give up his active association without a pang, but for the good of
the cause – well, the Rotary creed just about prescribes such action.
Such retired members would still be privileged to attend meetings,
but ordinarily would not do so frequently, so that the influx of new
members together with attending retired members would not unduly
crowd the luncheon tables.
Let no elderly member get the impression that this writer is set upon
turning out the old men or the near-old men of Rotary. Do not gather
the idea that he is a fresh young upstart, all worked up over the idea
that the old should step aside and watch the young bloods do things. It
happens that he is so near the mark he is talking about that 1940 will
likely see him facing the shadows, if he is fortunate enough to survive
that long. This is simply a plea for thinking ahead with the end in
view that the greatness of Rotary shall not become dimmed with the
dimming years of its present middle-aged membership.
For it must and shall not happen to Rotary that as it ages in life it
declines in vigour and power. Its great accomplishments inevitably will
draw upon itself still greater responsibilities and undertakings and it
dare not fail to be ready to meet them and bring them to full fruition.
The Rotarian who looks upon Rotary as more than a luncheon
club – who believes that its Objects and Code of Ethics are more than
mere idealistic phrase-making – will recognise the need for thought
upon this subject; for already he is deeply sensitive of the tremendous
opportunities for good that lie before Rotary and to the challenge which
these opportunities lay at its door.
From the Editor
We have received a great deal of
feedback on last month’s Klinginsmith
Challenge, both from those sharing ways
clubs have been innovating, as well as
those advocating Rotary hold firm to
We at Rotary Down Under wish to
add some additional points to the
discussion being held within clubs
First, we must recall that Rotary
has not always been the stronghold
of older members. Paul Harris was a
mere 36 when he founded Rotary, and
the average age of the founders was
38. The stereotype of the grey-haired
Rotarian has appeared in recent decades,
predominately in the Western world.
Australasia is lagging behind even
international averages, with 50 per cent
less members aged between 30-39 and 16
per cent more members over 60.
It is interesting when you consider
membership of Rotary over the years.
The author of the previous article from
1928, featured in The Rotarian, suggests
restricting established clubs from
admitting new members over a certain
age, such as 35-45.
We certainly do not suggest this
practice; however, it illustrates how
radically perspectives have changed.
Rotary clubs, we believe, should reflect
the broader community’s wants and
needs, rather than purely what current
members are accustomed to. This does
not mean destroying what Rotary is
– it will always be about serving the
community, building friendships and
having fun. Rather, it means considering
the future. What will your club look like
in 20 years? The Gen Y 25-year-old of
today will be the 45-year-old
Essentially, Rotary will remain the
same, but, as it has historically done,
must continuously evolve in some ways
to accommodate the changing lifestyles
and tastes of those developing into the
leaders of society, if we are to continue
our good work.
We speak, for example, of shifting
meeting times to suit modern working
hours. Or measuring contribution
and providing flexibility as opposed
to rewarding just attendance and
demanding rigid membership
As Paul Harris once said, “This is a
changing world. We must be prepared to
change with it.”
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