Home' Rotary Down Under : September 2013 Contents EDITORIAL
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the status quo
Just between us
In July, this column attempted to answer the question:
What is the role of a District Governor? We concluded
that the role was to inspire Rotarians.
Upon reading that column a District Governor might
well have been entitled to ask, “What is the role of
Rotary Down Under?”
Our stock-in-trade answer to that question is and
always has been that Rotary Down Under is a Rotarian’s
best and most accessible public relations resource.
According to our Purpose Statement, “Rotary Down
Under, through Rotary’s core values, aims to inspire
thought leading credible knowledge through relevant,
sustainable communication media”.
In other words, it’s our job to inspire by educating.
One of my usual tactics when addressing Rotarians on
this issue is to challenge the Rotary knowledge of most
Rotarians. For the purposes of this exercise, let us assume
that “most Rotarians” are pretty knowledgeable about the
activities of their own club, but mostly ignorant of what’s
going on in Rotary International’s very big picture.
Not so much in clubs up to their necks in local, national
and international projects, but in clubs that do not have
a long list of such activities. If the best your club can
do is provide a decent meeting venue, an occasionally
entertaining guest speaker, and a series of cheques
presented to various charities once or twice a year from
proceeds raised at the club’s one or two big annual events,
one wonders what those members are saying when they
try to recruit new members.
My fear is that they would talk about membership of
Rotary in the manner of a member of a local social club –
good food, good friends etc. Both of which are integral to
Rotary membership, of course, but are equally applicable
to membership of the local RSL, bowling club, Probus or
any number of groups.
What makes Rotary unique is its spirit of volunteerism.
With 1.2 million of us all over the world, it’s pretty handy
to know that when you join Rotary, you join one of the
biggest volunteer armies in the world, which means every
cent raised for good causes hits the target.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to make that case if you
don’t know the full story of Rotary’s global good work.
If you don’t know the latest state of play in the fight to
eradicate polio, or how things stand in Child and Maternal
Health, Basic Education and Literacy, Peace and Conflict
Resolution, Water and Sanitation, Disease Prevention and
Treatment or Economic and Community Development.
That’s where Rotary Down Under comes in. These are
the issues we cover, but more than that, we give Rotarians
a voice on issues such as efficiency of procedures and
processes. We do this in a way that gives Rotarians access
to a platform. Indeed, for most, that platform arrives each
month in their letterbox and all they have to do is take it
out of the envelope. For an increasing number of Rotarians
it arrives electronically in their inbox and all they have to
do is click on it.
Rotary Down Under is licensed by Rotary International
to deliver messages from Headquarters in the US –
messages from the President and the chair of The Rotary
Foundation. But we also deliver the occasional message
from Rotarians back to Rotary International Headquarters.
It has been argued that by doing so we risk airing
dirty laundry in a public forum. A recent column on the
Council on Legislation was seen as a good case in point.
It’s an argument with a certain validity that would be
more convincing if we had any evidence that Rotary Down
Under was being used by Rotarians as a recruitment tool.
The number of magazines that actually find their way into
non-Rotarian hands is, I continue to argue, negligible.
We are still first and foremost a magazine by members
for members, but our aspirations merely start there. We
naturally want non-Rotarians to read Rotary Down Under,
but we don’t want to alienate the readers we already have.
What we do know is that Rotarians have engaged with
the magazine in far greater numbers over the past couple
of years and that one of the main reasons cited for this is
our willingness to call it as we see it or even have a laugh
at our own expense from time to time.
If that means Rotarians are reading the magazine in
greater numbers, chances are they will be educating
themselves on Rotary’s big picture issues. In my
experience, the more one learns about Rotary, the more
passionate one becomes and a passionate Rotarian is far
less likely to find fault.
That can only be a good thing.
It’s an argument with a certain
validity that would be more
convincing if we had any
evidence that Rotary Down Under
was being used by Rotarians as
a recruitment tool.
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