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Things have changed exponentially since Rotary was formed in 1905, but the way we do Rotary hasn’t necessarily kept pace with that change.  
Rotary International has also challenged us all to address declining membership numbers and we know cost and culture barriers exist for young people in joining Rotary.

“This is a changing World: We must be prepared to change with it.

The story of Rotary will have to be written again and again.”
~ Paul Harris 1935

For some clubs and members, change can be frightening and challenging but change to others can be exciting and stimulating.

Change should not be feared because progress can not be resisted as history has proved in so many spheres.

Change is an opportunity to create something new and better and more relevant to the community for the future.


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Key messages for clubs

If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it ……
                well it is broke so we must fix it!!

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All members and clubs have a part to play to protect the future of Rotary in these Isles!

People of Action making Rotary relevant for the 2020’s

Rotarians MUST critically assess the future of their Rotary in their town!

They need to determine whether they are positively enhancing the image of Rotary and future-proof the organisation.

By adopting some of the cultural changes which #thinkdifferently proposes, Rotary will be revitalised and continue to thrive.

In line with Rotary 2, clubs are encouraged to offer flexible packages to new members; less traditional, more inclusive and participatory – flexible clubs, e-clubs and satellite clubs.

#thinkdifferently takes it beyond that framework and makes quite a few bold statements.

Language: we are suggesting that use of the words membership and members are replaced with volunteers and volunteer engagement. We suggest that the formal language used in much of our correspondence and in meetings is replaced with more current business language.

Project driven: we suggest the prime motivator to attract new volunteers is to offer projects, not just fund-raising schemes. These are local and international projects which will attract future volunteers. This is in stark contrast to a membership drive as the primary function. We believe projects will attract a larger volunteer base and, in turn, enhance the offering to potential volunteers.

Large scale projects: encouragement of large-scale projects and working together with other Rotary clubs and external partners. An example is the Rise Against Hunger meal packing events recently held by a number of Rotary districts.

Other volunteer models: look towards other volunteer sector models as good examples of what can be done to attract volunteers and how service organisations can be made to flourish and survive. For example, the Merseyside Youth Association and the National Trust.

Rotarians should think about how Rotary is perceived in their town and the impact it is having.

Think, is your club inclusive and participatory? Does it meet the needs of the community, either at home or abroad?

By changing a few simple traditions, this can positively impact the way volunteers, potential members and stakeholders view Rotary in the community.

If #thinkdifferently succeeds, it could completely change the trajectory of Rotary in the UK.

Acknowledgement to Phil Dyer and the team in District 1285 for introducing the concept of #thinkdifferently to RGBI

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