There are many reasons as to why, when it came to getting involved with Rotary, we as young professionals felt more inclined to charter our own unique Rotary Club, the Rotary Club of Toronto Skyline, versus joining an existing Rotaract or Rotary Club.
As young professionals (aged 25+) looking to develop our careers, we have much more to gain professionally through networking with other young professionals versus undergraduate students (ages 18-25). Although the Rotaract age group between 18 and 30 appears relatively narrow on paper, there is a substantial difference in terms of interests, experience, stage of life, and lifestyle between an 18 and a 30 year old that does not lend itself well to the cohesion required have a successful Club. Further, the dynamic between a recent high school graduate-cum-university student and someone who is either beginning or developing their professional career is sufficiently different as to frustrate and/or intimidate members. This clearly has implications for membership attraction and retention.
In chartering the Rotary Club of Toronto Skyline we have successfully engaged 25-40 year olds in Rotary. Our membership is flourishing. Young professionals are drawn to our Club because of the opportunities for ‘hands on’ volunteer work in the community and because of the opportunities for personal gain through networking and fellowship. We like the independence and autonomy afforded to us being Rotarians rather than Rotaractors. Our Executive has the freedom to make decisions about our Club structure, the projects we support and the activities we do without oversight and monitoring from a ‘parent Rotary Club’.
Additionally, several of our members have attended large-scale Rotary events, including the RI Convention in Lisbon, and as young professionals have had no interest in attending the events aimed at Rotaractors. This is not to suggest that Rotaract has uninteresting or unfulfilling events, nor is it to suggest that we have any reservations about Rotaract or Rotaractors, rather that, given where we are in life and the interests we have developed since finishing post-secondary education, young professionals are absolutely more suited to, and have more to gain from, the programming Rotary has to offer.
However, having attended meetings at several established Clubs in several districts, I can confidently say that young professionals do not necessarily fit within the confines of a traditional Rotary Club. The singing, the prayer, the formal structure, the slow bureaucracy and the early morning start times are just not appealing. We could easily recognize and appreciate the value, strength and dedication of Rotarians to their local and global communities and young professionals want to participate in that, just in their own way. It seemed only natural for us to charter a new Club, tailoring to those in our age group and at our stage of life.