2016 COUNCIL GRANTS CLUBS GREATER FLEXIBILITY
Representatives from Rotary districts around
the world met in Chicago in April to revise Rotary policies. They approved
changes that give clubs greater flexibility in when, where, and how they meet
and the types of membership they offer.
Why are these changes needed?
In some parts of the
world, Rotary continues to grow at a rapid rate. In others, membership has been
declining and the average age of members is increasing.
Over the past 15 years, Rotary has carried out
pilot programs that have explored innovations in membership, classification,
and the club experience. Consistently, in research and in the experiences of
members, we have found that when clubs have more freedom to determine how they
hold their meetings, who they invite to membership, and what defines
engagement, the club is more vibrant and more able to grow.
All Rotary clubs will now
be able to adopt the new options the Council approved by amending their bylaws.
Clubs that wish to continue to follow their traditional requirements for
meetings, attendance, structure, and categories of membership may do so.
Flexibility in meeting frequency, format, and
Council on Legislation
representatives voted overwhelmingly to eliminate limitations on how Rotary
clubs conduct their meetings. They also recognize that club health is not
determined by attendance alone. The RI Board and Council representatives agree
that individual clubs should be able to:
Determine the best day
and time for their meetings
Change or cancel a
meeting, if the need arises
Count service projects
or social events as meetings
Choose whether to
gather in person, meet online, alternate between online and in-person meetings,
or even use both formats at the same time (for example, a member could
participate in an in-person meeting online through video chat)
Amend their bylaws to either relax or tighten attendance
requirements and policies of terminating members for poor attendance
Rotary clubs now have the
option of reducing their meeting frequency as long as they meet in some way at
least twice per month. They are still expected to forward attendance reports to
the district governor within 15 days of the last meeting of each month.
The recent Council on
Legislation decisions does not modify the current rules of the Standard
Rotary Club Constitution. Clubs that want to adopt these changes will need to
amend their bylaws. Clubs that wish to continue to adhere to the traditional
requirements regarding meetings, attendance, structure, or categories of
membership may do so.
and Rotary clubs
Having decided to give
all Rotary clubs greater flexibility as to how they meet, the 2016 Council
concluded that it was no longer necessary to label them as either e-clubs or
traditional clubs. For that reason, references to e-clubs have been removed
from Rotary’s Bylaws and the Standard Rotary Club Constitution, but e-clubs may
continue to name and brand themselves as e-clubs to emphasize that they meet
exclusively or primarily online.
Flexibility in Membership Types
The RI Bylaws and
Standard Rotary Club Constitution provide for two types of membership: active
and honorary. By amending their bylaws, clubs may offer additional membership
types that are desired in the community, such as associate, corporate, family
membership or others.
will continue to record, and grant all of the benefits of membership to, active
members only who pay RI dues
Clubs that offer
additional membership categories should report these members to Rotary
International as active and are responsible for paying said members’ RI dues
Clubs and districts set
their own policies about these members’ other financial obligations (club and
district dues, meal costs, etc.), attendance requirements, and service
expectations and reflect these policies in their bylaws
Clubs determine how they accept former or transferring
members, including whether they allow current Rotaractors to join
Dual Membership for Rotaractors
The Council amended the
Rotary International Bylaws to permit Rotaractors who meet the qualifications
of membership to join a Rotary club while remaining Rotaract members.
We hope that giving
qualified young leaders a way to maintain their involvement in Rotaract, along
with giving Rotary clubs greater flexibility in the format and frequency of
meetings, will facilitate Rotaractors’ transition to Rotary clubs. As members
of the family of Rotary, Rotaractors are committed to the world community and
share Rotary’s goals of furthering service, world understanding, and peace.
With all of this change, is Rotary putting its
reputation and brand at risk?
While the enactments
adopted by the 2016 Council increase clubs’ flexibility in meetings and
membership categories, they don’t permit clubs to deviate from Rotary’s
? We are still business,
professional, and community leaders. Our qualifications for membership have not
The Object of Rotary,
our basic tenets, have not changed.
Our essence statement —
join leaders, exchange ideas, and take action — have not changed.
Our values of
fellowship, integrity, diversity, service, and leadership have not changed.
The Four-Way Test, one of our most important distinguishing
features, has not changed.
The changes the Council did make are not a
threat to the quality of Rotary’s membership. Instead, they empower clubs to
adapt to a changing environment to remain relevant in our second century of
When do these changes take effect?
Changes take effect 1 July 2016. Now is
the time to begin discussing what changes, if any, your club might pursue to
make them more relevant to current members and the business, professional, and
community leaders you seek to attract.