When someone asks you, “What is Rotary?” what do you say? I think we’ve all had the experience of being asked that deceptively simple question and finding ourselves suddenly at a loss for words. Even the most articulate among us have a hard time capturing the essence of our organisation in just a few sentences.
As an organisation, Rotary has always had a difficult time conveying the scope of our work: not just what we do, but how we do it, and the value of what we contribute to the world.
As an accountant, I like numbers. They work in every language, and often they communicate complex information much more effectively than words. That is why, in this Rotary year, I am asking each club to provide Rotary headquarters with two numbers: the amount of money, both in cash and in kind, spent on humanitarian service; and the number of hours of work performed in Rotary’s name.
If we want these numbers to be useful, they have to be accurate. That means beginning now to accurately track the hours and the money that our clubs spend on their service.
The simplest way for clubs to provide this information at the end of the year will be by entering it every month on Rotary Club Central — a tool that has been completely rebuilt and relaunched to be significantly more useful, and user-friendly, than it has been in the past. If for some reason (for example, limited internet access) your club is not able to connect to Rotary Club Central, please be in touch with your district governor, who will ensure that your information can be submitted through other means.
I cannot emphasise strongly enough that the goal of this effort is not getting the largest and most impressive numbers. There is not going to be any competition, recognition, or public use whatsoever of the numbers reported by any individual club. The goal is accurate and reliable numbers that we can present confidently in our public image work, in our membership materials, and to our partners — numbers backed by specific data, on the club level, that answer not only the question, “What is Rotary?” but the question, “What does Rotary do?”
I strongly believe that with these numbers, we will be better able to demonstrate the value of Rotary: Making a Difference — which in time will enable us to make more of a difference, for more people, in more ways, than ever.
Ian H S Riseley
President, Rotary International