President's Message JANUARY 2016
There is the matter
of whether the emphasis is on making the community aware of Rotary or improving
the knowledge of Rotarians about Rotary. The answer of course is that it is both.
The history of a
club, especially those that have been around for a while is often not well
known, especially to newer members. The
activities of Rotary International let alone its history are incredibly broad
and far-reaching. Most of us just see
part of it. Rotary awareness is not only
about our history but also our future; knowledge of history helps define the
For the community at
large Rotary is seen through our good works and contribution to society. Even
then much of what we do is invisible to the wider community or not necessarily
attributed to Rotary. I think most Rotarians get rather agitated every time
they see a media report on polio eradication wherein Rotary is not mentioned at
all or rates barely a passing mention.
At the broadest level
we have to concede that Rotary as an organization, as a club and Rotarians as
individuals have not been effective at creating that awareness that we should
into the consumer market apparently spend as much or more on brand recognition
than they do on the particular product they are trying to sell. In a way Rotary
has been losing brand recognition in a sea of competitors. Charity is a huge
Rotary does not have
a lot of money to put into promotion and brand recognition and it is fair to
say that much of what has been spent has been ineffectual.
We occasionally see
street promotions employing people wearing “sandwich boards”. Rotarians can
also be a walking promotion with far less inconvenience. When we are serving
the community it is good if we wear Rotary apparel – shirt, jacket, cap or hat
but all times it is good if we wear our Rotary pin. To be sure this was easier
when suits were the order of the day but we can still wear it on our regular
apparel. This is not just subliminal brand awareness but often the start of
what could be a game changing conversation.
RI President Sakuji
Tanaka had the following to say on the subject: “I am asking all of you to
wear your Rotary pin and to raise awareness of what the pin means. I believe
having that pin changes you. It makes you think more before you speak and
before you act. It makes you remember, all the time, that you are a Rotarian –
and that as Rotarians, we are here to help. All of us should be ready to
talk about Rotary. When someone asks you about that pin, you should be ready to
answer them. What is Rotary? What does Rotary do? These are questions that each
of us should always be prepared to answer”.
We don’t always have
to do big things to do worthwhile things. So a simple but effective outcome
from Rotary Awareness month might be for us all to work on how you will answer
the questions posed by RI President Sakuji. In any sales pitch you apparently
only have few words in which to make or break a sale.
Once the person you
are talking with is engaged then you have time to go into more depth about what
it is that Rotary is about. You don’t even have to think about this matter
because Rotary International has already done the hard work.
I like the “Core
Essence of Rotary” statement, which defines Rotary as “A worldwide network of
inspired individuals who translate their passions into relevant social causes
to change lives in communities”.
If you prefer, the
more traditional Rotary Mission Statement also works for me: “We provide
services to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding,
goodwill and peace through our fellowship of business, professional and
It is worth taking
the time during this month to familiarize Rotarians with some of the big
picture things that are going on around the Rotary world. The latest (and
positive) news on polio eradication is always worth sharing.
Rotary awareness is
multi-dimensional, reflecting within and reaching out to the wider community.
All of the many things we do in Rotary should and can create awareness but so
often the dots do not seem to connect.
Dennis Shore, District