A «brainstorming» session was convened with a selected group of members to suggest ways in which to achieve the goal. After reviewing recent unsuccessful attempts to increase membership, the Club Leadership Plan was used as a reference for membership development. Someone asked, «What’s meant by the Family of Rotary, and how can the Family of Rotary help? »
The group decided that the family of Rotary is not restricted to our immediate family but should embrace the community in which we Rotarians live. After all, if a Rotary club is not truly representative of the community it serves, it is not a Rotary Club. A decision was taken to concentrate on vocation, since we are all invited into Rotary though our vocation. The two members identified a newly established industrial estate adjacent to the town with over 1000 employees. Together they targeted and sent invitations to 50 senior executives to an informal exploratory meeting.
The Family of Rotary changed the town
The purpose of the meeting was to bring together a new business community and the existing local community to discuss common problems and opportunities. The desired outcome would be that, by demonstrating that Rotary could act as a credible forum in solving common problems, the local Rotary club would, in due course, be attractive to senior executives from local business and commerce - the very ideals of Rotary. So as not to intimidate the attendees, our regular meeting venue was not suitable. A local hotelier kindly hosted the event for one hour, immediately after the day’s business.
The two project leaders selected a small, dual gender group of our younger members, with myself as facilitator, to represented Rotary. Fifteen senior executives turned up from the industrial estate, all under 45 years old, and some as young as 25. A few minutes were spent outlining that the local Community had little or no contact with the Companies on the industrial estate. Since our local Rotary club acted on a daily basis as a conduit of information and help to the community, could local business also use this network? Networking within Rotary is what our younger members demand. The meeting debated and came up with five common problems.
We just have to think outside the box
The business community felt that they were isolated when appealing for help. Local bureaucrats paid little notice even after the companies paid excessive rent, rates and local taxes. Areas of opportunity were identified. .:
For site security, companies were acting individually, whereas a collective site security system made financial and practical sense...
A railway Station had been promised and as yet not delivered.
A railhead was needed, since environmental issues will make it increasingly unviable to distribute goods and recycled waste, by road.
A formal site network was needed, including an Industrial estate website and a Business Directory, to be run by a part-time coordinator for the estate. Among other things, this would encourage local purchase, and supply amongst the site businesses. More efficient recruitment and work experience was also possible via links to the local Senior School.
As follow up, the Elland Rotary Club will call a further meeting. Through our contacts, we will invite local politicians and senior police officers, and extend the invitation to the wider local business community. Five of the business leaders asked to visit our weekly meeting, for they did not know Rotary involved itself in such issues.
The Family of Rotary is alive and well. We just have to think outside the box, just like our two project leaders did.
Vice President of RIBI, Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland
Member of RI Leadership Development and Training Committee
R.C. Elland, England
PHOTOS: Hope (foto José Amorim, Brazil); UNICEF Season Greetings Card