Big changes coming to RI as membership continues to decline

The second 2016–17 RI Board of Directors meeting was held from 19th–22nd September, 2016. At this meeting, the Board reviewed 12 committee reports and recorded 64 decisions.

The 2016 - 2017 Board of Directors

The 2016 – 2017 Board of Directors

Ten key decisions:

  1. Set up criteria, guidelines, and a timetable for rezoning the Rotary world;
  2. reaffirmed that developing the Rotary vision and strategic plan is a top priority and approved an action plan to execute and monitor;
  3. added district-wide strategic planning to the responsibilities of the District Governor;
  4. asked the Rotary Institute to provide comprehensive governor-nominee training with Rotary subsidy starting in 2020–2;
  5. agreed to reduce the time frame of the International Assembly by one day, starting in 2021;
  6. received a report on membership trends that included as of 1 July 2016 the following data:
    • membership: 1,209,491 Rotarians (down 1,578Rotarians from 2015)
    • clubs: 35,399 (up 285 clubs from 2015)
    • average club size: 34members
  7. affirmed the dates of the 2018 Rotary International Convention to be 24–27 June 2018 in Toronto, Canada;
  8. agreed to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Lufthansa to help grow their Entrepreneurship Camp model for a term ending in2020;
  9. broadened its policy regarding Rotary Friendship Exchanges to allow for participation by Rotarians and non-Rotarians with the goal for participants to experience cultural immersion and intercultural exposure;
  10. supported President Germ’s plan to grant the Rotary Award of Honor to Jack Nicklaus and Dolly Parton.

About John Borst

John Borst’s career in education spans the years 1960 to 1996. During those 36 years, he spent an equal amount of time working int he English language, Public and Catholic school boards. Borst taught in both elementary and high school environments. Positions of responsibilities held included department head in Geography, curriculum coordinator of Social and Environmental Studies, Principal, Education Officer with the Ministry of Education, Superintendent of Schools, and Superintendent of Student Services. Borst retired in 1996 as Director of Education for the legacy Dryden Board of Education. During this time, Borst has lived in the Ontario communities of Brampton, Toronto, Newmarket, Thunder Bay, Aurora and Dryden. Currently, Borst splits his time between Dryden and Toronto. Since retirement, Borst has served as a Supervisory Officer with a remote School Authority; been a freelance writer of articles on education in particular for Education Today, the magazine of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA); founded and edited from 2006 - 2010 the Education blog Tomorrow’s Trust: A Review of Catholic Education; and from 2003-2010 was a trustee of the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
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5 Responses to Big changes coming to RI as membership continues to decline

  1. Ken Jaskot says:

    “Big changes”? “Key decisions”? I didn’t see either. I think a more apt title would have been “Board Remains Clueless.”

    • noronwe says:

      Ken, you have me curious. Is the Board not going far enough or is it moving in the wrong direction,one out of step with the membership?

      • Ken Jaskot says:

        When I read the headline and the lead, I was expecting something in the article that matched what was said. It wasn’t there. Not to say that any of it was bad, but none of it really deals with the declining membership. I guess I’m more dissatisfied with the sycophant who wrote the headline than the Board. And yes, if this article is any indication, the Board is not doing enough to stem the bleeding in North America. And it is not just this article. As newsletter editor, I do spend a good amount of time every week searching the internet for things to include, and I’ve yet to see any indication that any of these supposed business-types have a practical plan. Jim Henry on his blog, Retention Central, has more valuable ideas than anything I’ve heard from the Board. It seems to me that the Board depends too much on consultants, not enough on their guts. For example, while we do need to recruit under 40s, I think we’d gain more members if we aggressively recruited retirees. (60 is the new 40…) If they promoted contributions of ideas half as much as they promote TRF, we’d be a lot further along. Plus, these guys keep discarding things that made Rotary work, like GSE and Matching Grants. I read something recently that RI will stop absorbing the taxes on scholarships. Another great call. It just saddens me that the boys at the top don’t seem to get it. Finally, I’m not sure that the Board can really be “in step” with membership. There are really a lot of memberships in the world. Japan, Africa and rural America, are very different in what their membership want and need. How does the RI board deal with this diversity without just trying to find the lowest common denominator and build on it? Rezoning is a start if it is done right, and may help down the road as long as more power gets to the zones, which should have more commonality. I just think it is not that hard. Ridding the world of polio is hard…

  2. noronwe says:

    Ken, thanks for the speedy reply. As the “sycophant” who wrote the heading, I was using a journalist’s prerogative to exaggerate in order to get people to read a summary of a meeting’s minutes which as you can appreciate are usually pretty boring. Sorry, if I mislead you.

    My own personal opinion is that Rotary often rings its hands over the decline in membership but is at a loss as to what to do. Jim Henry’s blog is probably over the heads of most Rotarians not because they don’t get it but that they just don’t think about it.

    Redrawing the Zone’s is troubling for me as I think more and more the non-elected Zone volunteers (not that we ever have true elections…another bug bear of mine) are there to drive the coordination of the District’s to implement the central (ie. Board/Senior staff) initiatives. I see the Zone as a centralizing force rather than a decentralizing force. What do you think?

    I like your take on “a lot of memberships in the World”. The key declining areas, however, are in the old English-speaking democracies like the USA, Canada, Australia, UK etc.

    Personally, I agree that the recently retired are a source of new members and wrote a piece In Praise of Seniors; the new Rotary ‘Zoomers’ if you are interested.

  3. Ken Jaskot says:

    John, it is a pleasure to chat with you. I am a fan and meant no disrespect. I originally saw the post on My Rotary, I believe. Sorry for the remote judgement about your intention with the headlines, though I equally dislike that journalist’s practice as well. “Is it the Truth?” should be at the forefront of that profession, which, as we currently experience here in the US, is so left behind that it isn’t even in the rear-view mirror of most big-time media.

    In my District, membership is a problem in some Clubs because 1) their community has been economically devastated (coal country); 2) they’re old and don’t care; 3) the Club Board doesn’t make it a #1 priority. My Club’s Board made it a priority and we’re up 15% with an aggressive goal of 40%. So yes, the bottom line is that too many Clubs just don’t think about it, or even recognize it as a problem that needs to be solved.

    I do appreciate your concern about the possible outcome of rezoning, though I hope it doesn’t end that way. The mindset you address has long been a problem from the District level and above. The players mostly seem to have their minds set on getting to the next level, and following the company line is seen as the priority. In my travels on the internet, I do see there are some innovative Rotary thinkers, though it seems to be rare in the leadership chain. RI needs to change that attitude and consciously shift power down.

    I have said elsewhere that PolioPlus is proof that no good deed goes unpunished. I say that because, in my opinion, the centralization of power and thought at RI is the result of overriding need to get this done. When we get there, I hope that RI takes a few years to settle down and make Rotary Clubs and Rotarians the priority again.

    I read your article about Zoomers awhile ago, and was inspired by it to nudge my Club in that direction. We have also dedicated our Club to be a yearly Citation recipient, so we have focused on under 40, but have also successfully recruited some very able retirees and plan to do more. I think that the average age argument is a straw dog here in the US. All those retiring baby boomers are ripe for Rotary membership and have the time and money to do it well. It could at least stem the bleeding, if not reverse the trend. At least for the next 10 years or so…

    Thanks for what you do! You are a voice we need to continue hearing from!

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