Rotarian Privacy and Rotary Website Management

by John Borst, District 5550 Director of Communications

What should be done when a president-elect doesn’t appear on the club’s membership list, let alone the club’s executive positions?

Or how about a club president about which Rotary International appears to have no information?

Those are just two kinds of problems I have faced as the District 5550, Director of Communications.

Our District and most District clubs use the ClubRunner Content Management System (CMS) platform. The Clubrunner CMS has two distinct components, what I call the front end or what members and the public can access usually thought of as the “Home” page, the one associated with the site’s URL.

The second main component, what I call the back end, is the area where “members only” get access through the “login” feature. In ClubRunner, this is where each member can create a personal profile, access information on other club members, send out e-mails to club members, track attendance, send out invoices, and so forth.

It is also the place where ClubRunner has built in layers of security. For example each regular member has a security setting of 70. This permits them a minimum set of information such as seeing other members names, addresses, e-mail address, place of business and so forth.

A member who helps manage the home page, for example can list the forthcoming speakers, would be assigned a 60 security the level. A treasurer and a secretary would be a 50 and could send out invoices or record attendance levels. The president can do the same and more with a 40. The manager of the website has a 30 rating.

imageA somewhat similar system exists at the District level.

At the club level the President (40) and the website manager (30) are the only members who can change another members security level.

The two examples at the start of this post occur when the club comes to the District for assistance. Neither situation should exist if the website manager or president know a little about how to manage the “back end”.

ClubRunner and Rotary International are striving to build a system called “Data Integration”. For example when a club secretary enters a new member’s data on the club website, it also appears on the District site club list and is registered into Rotary International’s database at the same time. A new member would then be able to login into both the District site and RI’s “Rotary Central”.

In the first instance where a president-elect is missing from the club list, a District web manager can go in and add the member’s information on the Club data base which is accessed through the District website. This updates the Club’s website at the same time. Even though the District web-manager can tell the member his login name and if necessary provide a temporary password, he cannot change the member’s security level.

When I took this issue up with ClubRunner’s senior management staff, I learned that Club’s are extraordinarily protective of their websites and data.

In one case one club did not even want the District Governor or any District personnel to see their membership list and made such a request to ClubRunner. More recently in response to a Rotarian who did not even want his fellow club members to see his profile a new setting of 80 was created to permit individual members to hide their profile.

If neither is in violation of a rule or regulation, it certainly appears counter intuitive to both the Objects of Rotary and the Principles of the Four Way Test.

As it currently stands I was unable to change the president-elect’s status as he prepared to get up and running for the 2014-15 year.

From my perspective if I am to be of assistance to the Clubs in the District I believe ClubRunner should create a system which permits one District member to be of such assistance to the Clubs. If a club wished to opt out of such assistance they would have a setting within the club website to set such a parameter. The default should be set on opt-in-to-assistance.

Is this really a violation of a club’s autonomy or of a Rotarian’s privacy or should it be viewed as an acceptable level of statistical management by Rotary International as delegated to the District Governor to oversee.

This is especially true in the case of the second example, where RI appears to lack data on the Club’s executive. I discovered this when using the Rotary Location App on an iPad. The club did not have “Data Integration” activated and had no website so activation had to be set at the R.I. website. Because I could see the president’s e-mail address and could reset the password, I took the liberty of attempting to login as the club president. RI had no record of the president’s e-mail. Obviously, it was never provided using the regular mail to RI.

In discovering this situation I wrote to the three club-presidents involved and only one responded.

The day is fast approaching when paper will no longer be a medium of information exchange. Already, registration for many community activities, such as swimming lessons can only be done on-line. Eventually, the only way a new member to Rotary will be registered is also on-line.

As it stands now, it makes little sense to prevent the Director of Communication from assisting either a club member from changing a security level or the District Governor from ensuring all president’s are recorded with RI even going so far as to register the name with RI on his or her behalf.



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RI creates dedicated website for ‘The Rotarian Magazine’

trusteechairDKLee-100x150by DK Lee, chair, The Rotary Foundation

Today with Rotary’s club membership spanning more than 200 countries and geographical areas, its publications are more vital than ever. The RI Board of Directors has designated April of every year as Magazine The-Rotarian-website-250pxMonth, and it is a time to recognize the role that our Rotary publications play in our Rotary lives – and the role that we should play in our publications.

The Rotarian, which is edited here at RI headquarters in Evanston, Ill., USA, has a circulation of about 500,000. Around the world, 31 more magazines are published in more than 20 languages. In total, these 32 magazines reach more than 1.2 million people. To make this happen, it takes more than just an editorial staff – it also takes the good work of Rotarians. I always feel that the best part of reading any Rotary publication is the opportunity to find out what other clubs are doing. Each issue, each article, is a chance to be informed and inspired.

In an era when electronic communication seems to be everywhere, the role of paper magazines is still important to our organization, but we must be open to new formats to get the word out. That’s why, this April, I encourage you all to explore The Rotarian magazine’s new digital experience: Email the stories to friends and family. Share them on Facebook and Twitter. This is a chance to take the great ideas and great work of Rotarians even further and to inspire future generations to do the same.

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Rotarian magazines a symbol of both unity and diversity

Burton_Ron_D-150x200by Ron Burton, RI President 2013-14

Like attending a Rotary club meeting, reading Rotary magazines is an essential part of the shared experience of being a Rotarian. When you pick up a Rotary publication, whether it’s Rotary Down Under in Australia and New Zealand or The Rotary-No-Tomo in Japan, you’ll find that every single one does just what it’s meant to do: It informs, and it inspires. It keeps you up to date with Rotary news, brings you new ideas for your Rotary service, and tells stories that are relevant and meaningful to you. To me, these publications around the RoCan-Apr-2014-175-pxworld are a tangible representation of Rotary’s greatest strength: that each club is a local, community-based entity, engaged in a truly global network.

This organization is incredibly large and diverse, and as much as we all have in common in Rotary, we are not a place where one size fits all. Our expectations of a magazine, both culturally and linguistically, are naturally going to be different. With our regional publications, Rotarians in Bulgaria can find out what’s going on in Rotary in Bulgaria, and what’s going on elsewhere in the Rotary world, along with the latest news from Evanston. Because each one of our Rotary publications belongs to the family of Rotary magazines – each one is, like every Rotary club, both fully local and fully part of our international April-2014---175pxidentity.

One of the greatest privileges of being RI president is the ability to speak directly, every month, to every one of our 1.2 million Rotarians. It’s awe-inspiring to me, as I write this, to think of all of you, sitting down in your living rooms or at the breakfast table or maybe on the train to work, reading these words, and then turning the page to find out what’s new in Rotary. And overwhelmingly, that is exactly what each of you does. Not just because your Rotary magazine turns up in the mailbox, or because you feel you have to – but because Rotary magazines are good magazines. I hope that when you pick up your publication – whichever one you’re reading right now – you get the same feeling of pride, and ambition, that I do.

Rotary magazines remind us that as Rotarians, we are all part of something larger than ourselves. They show us just how much we can achieve through Rotary. Through them, we see what our Foundation dollars do, we see what our fellow Rotarians are doing, and we are inspired to Engage Rotary, Change Lives even more.

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Recruit or Attract: Which Membership Approach Is More Effective?

Jim HenryBy Rtn. Jim Henry

Editor’s note: This article was posted at the Zone 33-34 blog “Retention Central” on March 16, 2014. It is re-posted with permission.

Rotary International (R.I.) and The Rotary Foundation (TRF) continue to be seduced by the enchanting rhythm of the “Recruiting” death dance.  Both continue to encourage clubs to do whatever they can to recruit members and donors.  And, for both, recruiting is simply the wrong attitude, which fuels ineffective approaches.

Recruiting is a common practice and an industry accepted standard when organizations want to fill positions with qualified people.  Most organizations continually recruit employees; colleges continually recruit athletes and students, etc.  Those being recruited usually have a specific value the organization is seeking.  The recruiting approach centers on what the organization needs and/or wants.

Successful businesses and charitable organizations continually search for new customers, donors, or volunteers.  Those that achieve the most long term success do so by striving to attract them because the attract approach centers on the needs and/or wants of those they wish to attract.


The difference between recruit and attract is subtle, real, and extremely important because it resides in the thought processes of the decision makers – those seeking to exchange resources for needs and/or wants.  Recruiting organizations seek value and make decisions on the resources they are willing to exchange for desired values.  Attracting organizations understand that those they target will make the decision on how many personal resources they are willing to exchange for the value they expect an organization to deliver, whether it is a product, service, or opportunity to contribute to society.

Perhaps the most important result of this subtlety is the influence each approach has on personnel attitudes throughout the organization, which affects everything the organization does.  The recruit attitude centers on the organization’s wants and needs, i.e.”The organization wants what you have to offer.”  The attract attitude centers on the customers, members, and/or donors needs and wants, i.e. “The organization has something to offer you.”

The recruiting attitude and approach is arguably the major reason R.I.’s retention rates are declining.  Recruiting generates interest, but interest is easily diverted if much of a commitment is expected or required, or when a new interest comes along.  The attract approach generates interest and, once the attracted target commits, they expect to have the reasons they committed to be met with an equivalent or greater value proposition.


As a final argument, examine historical membership data.  Over the last twenty years, the recruiting attitude and approach has neither halted North America’s membership decline nor jogged loose worldwide membership.  It is sheer stupidity to expect different results without changing attitudes and approaches.

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‘Rotaractor here!’

Guillermo-150pxBy Guillermo Galdamez, Past President, Rotaract Club of San Salvador – Cuscatlan

Rotaractor here!

I feel Rotaract, as a leadership development program, is an excellent way to recruit Rotarians.

But often we get a lot of flak because for the most part Rotaractors do not take the next step and join a Rotary club once we ‘graduate’ from the Rotaract program.. This I believe is a failure on the part both Rotaracts and their sponsoring Rotary clubs. Each fails to create a bridge to make that step possible. More often than not, it feels more like a giant leap. Let me elaborate.

Too often Rotaract clubs operate with almost complete independence from their sponsoring Rotary club. This is a great opportunity. We should be working towards creating a shared culture, a sense of a shared identity. Both Rotaractors and Rotarians need to be open, collaborate in service activities; be it community service, international, or club service. We need to share experiences in our Rotary life. In the end we are part of one

Toronto Rotaractors sell 50/50 tickets at Grey Cup game

Toronto Rotaractors sell 50/50 tickets at Grey Cup game

family, and not Rotaractors on one side and Rotarians on the other. I am happy to count many Rotarians as friends, and I’m able to have a few laughs with them over a glass of beer or wine, regardless of their age or background. We are bound together by the vision set forth by so many Rotarians that came before us: fellowship and service.

Regarding the differences in our meeting formats, I believe we’ll end up somewhere in between the formal meetings and the eClub model: less frequent meetings, but more support and communication through technology and social networks. For example my current Rotaract club meets only once every two weeks – at a bar. The atmosphere is very relaxed, and there are few formalities. Between each meeting though, we communicate extensively and frequently through Facebook, text messages and so on..

I think that we as a younger generation tend to focus a lot more on seeing quick results. We’ve been spoiled by modern technologies’ instant gratification. So make sure:

(i) You *show* us the impact of the things you do, rather than just tell

(ii) Get us involved as quickly as possible and

(iii) Try and get us involved in things that will help us connect to our community and other people.

For all the technology we use, we are still very much human, and we crave to connect with others and to help change the world for the better. No amount of high-definition screens can substitute real human contact and connections. Rotary is well-positioned and capable of doing this and more.

Guillermo Galdamez, is currently a Master of Library and Information Studies Candidate – Specializing in Knowledge Management at McGill University Montreal, Quebec.  He is the Past President, Rotaract Club of San Salvador – Cuscatlan and holds a Bachelor of Engineering (BEng), Management Information Systems from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey.

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Under the Influence

by John Borst, Director Communications, District 5550

Rotary includes all kinds of people. It is an example of diversity in action. As a result you would think Rotary would have no trouble attracting new members. Yet for years, now, it has been a struggle to do so.

We seem to think if we just work harder, and “get our ‘ask’ in gear” we will be successful. Certainly, getting out and promoting what Rotary is and what it does at every level is way better than doing nothing. As the data proves this has at best maintained a static state.

The question that needs asking is has society changed so fundamentally that the values of Rotary are no longer congruent with society at large. And that this rather than a lack of effort may be the real issue.

Is this where Rotary exists within  the Canadian -American Social - Politcal Spectrum?

Is this where Rotary exists within the Canadian -American Social – Politcal Spectrum?

The roots of Rotary are quintessentially the embodiment of American culture. And no matter how much we may bemoan the worse features of American exceptionalism, there is no denying that as a collective society none has ever been as dynamic or  in such a state of perpetual social and political turmoil. This is not new; it is older than Rotary itself. In fact one can justifiably make the claim that Rotary was created as one response to the turmoil that existed in the first decade of 20th Century America.

When Rotary was created the world was changing at a rate unparalleled in the history of man. As the Guggenheim Gallery has demonstrated with its touring exhibit “The Great Upheaval,” even the world of art was forever changed.

But that upheaval resulted in the horrors of two “World Wars” as the power of mechanization was harnessed for evil ends by megalomaniacs coupling themselves to the aggrandizement of State power.

Does RRotary line up with the 12 Tribes of American Politics or is it distorted?

Does RRotary line up with the 12 Tribes of American Politics or is it distorted?

As Rotary grew into an International body it promoted a different story. Both America and the World were receptive to an organization which “encouraged and fostered an ideal of service…” particularly “the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace…” Communitarism, both local and international found expression politically and a period of progressive legislation ushered in old age security, government pension plans, social welfare programs, public education, universal health insurance and in the USA,medicare. With the two philosophies in line Rotary grew to its present size.

However, as always happens in society countervailing forces espousing other principles competed for the hearts of people. Beginning in the 1970′s neo-liberal ideals based on individualism, the personification of human rights, economic Libertarianism, and consumerism coupled with the idea that government had gone too far resulted in the era of Thatcherism and Reaganomics.

Since then the Left and Right in the USA and much of the rest of the world have moved steadily to the right such that the centre is now further right than the right was during the Barry Goldwater and Reagan years. The result today is a Tea Party according to some pundents, bent on the destruction of the Republican Party and a Democratic Party which looks more like the Republican Party of the 1990s.

Rotary on the other hand, has moved steadily in the other direction. Just as neoliberal forces took hold, Rotary International began its first great International project: the elimination of the polio virus. As its  Charity Foundation has grown and with the phenomenal success of the polio eradication campaign uniting the world’s governments, International agencies, and philanthropists around this goal, Rotary grasped the opportunity to extend the principle of “service above self” to six new “areas of focus”. Today under the umbrella of its “Grants” model, its International aspirations may even be threatening to upset the delicate balance which finds Rotary Clubs funding community endeavors at least 10:1 over International projects.

Compounding this dilemma, is a recognition that we are living through a period we could call “The Second Great Upheaval”. This one, built on the digitization of everything, is moving us into realms of the unknown so fast it could be just as easily be called “The Era of Mystery”.

Where is Rotary on this economic spectrum: left, center, right?

Where is Rotary on this economic spectrum: left, center, right?

Rotary, buy and large is made of individuals who are conservative in their personal values, but who recognize that no man is an island. Put another way by-and-large they subscribe to the adage, “I am my brothers keeper.” Thus in Rotaryese, they buy into the credo of “Service above Self”. They wish for world peace and they want to bring a basic level of education to everyone; they want to see everyone with access to clean, safe drinking water; they want all people to have access to health services, especially maternal; they want equality for women and girls and being business people want everyone to have the advantages of a fair wage and access to economic entrepreneurship.

Yet when I see a response in a discussion on Rotary and literacy, in which the writer says he isn’t interested in any international literacy project but only his own local American one, and states that there are 36000 other clubs that can do it and that his club isn’t going to play “Santa Claus” to the world’s nearly 900,000,000 illiterate citizens then I and all Rotarians come face to face with the same neoliberal attitudes which bedevil our many National political landscapes.

That is why I have titled this piece “Under the Influence”. Like it or not, we all, as Rotarians, are under the influence of the political, economic and social philosophies within which we live. Issues of consumerism, concepts of government, ideas about the role of the individual verses the state or community, all influence the institution that is Rotary. Is the very idea of a “Service” club anachronistic in America’s current political environment?

As we strive to maintain, let alone grow our membership, this is a question we simply are not addressing. Until we do all the promotion and all the “asking” isn’t going to grow the organization. Even though there are darkening clouds of ever more extreme right lurching movements, there is considerable evidence that more people are cognizant of a need for a return to a more balanced society, one which is more open to a more progressive form of community service, one which is more congruent with the principles upon which Rotary is built.

It is time to admit we live “under the Influence” and build a membership campaign accordingly.

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