Lead Your Membership: Inspire Innovation and Action. 

Rotary members are our friends, our community businesses, our community leaders, and our dedicated servants to the communities in which we live. Are we caring for and connecting with our members?  Do we value them?  Do we reward them?  Do we call them when they are missed in meetings?  And most importantly, are we delivering the kinds of leadership opportunities, service opportunities, networking opportunities, and fun fellowship that we promised when they joined Rotary?   Rotarians, we must deliver these promises to our members!

As we weather the COVID-19 pandemic and the rampant pervasive negative news around social unrest, it is still important to ask ourselves these questions about membership benefits in our Rotary Clubs.  Rather than wait for “things to return to normal” let’s foster innovation and find new ways to safely interact and have fun, to promote our member’s businesses, and above all, serve our communities.  I offer some ideas I have heard about from the Clubs I visited recently:

Safely Increase Attendance:  Be sure in any gathering that you propose, you adequately explain the safety measures you will employ to keep your members safe.  It is possible that some members do not feel safe enough to attend even outdoor, in-person events.  Leaders protect their people from harm.

Get Creative: “There are more ways than Zoom calls to meet virtually and connect,” explains Past University of Oregon Rotaract President Kacie Bohme.  “Explore online group games such as bingo, trivia contests, card games, raffles and more.”  Contact Rotaract Club members for some ideas and help.  President Kim Meyers of the Rotary Club of Eugene Delta is organizing outdoor “Cottage Gatherings;” small gatherings of 5-6 members on porches, patios and decks of Club member homes.  These meetings are great way to “socially distance” but to also connect in person.

Serve Your Community:  The need is great, and getting more severe every day.  Assign your members interview targets for several local non-profits for things they have come to understand people need now.  Find ways to creatively get our members involved in hands-on service.  Last week members of the Rotary Club of Port Orford went to glean blueberries from a local blueberry farm.  The berries were free. Members and their families collected 125 pounds of blueberries, bagged them, and handed them out during the Common Good Food Pantry distribution day.  One and done, simple, but memorable for members who said, “I never thought Rotary would provide me with such meaningful ways to serve others.  I am grateful.”

Make Meetings Memorable:  Recognize members who have consistently brought Club Service or community service ideas to the Club, especially during this pandemic.  Leaders recognize and thank their people.

At your request, District 5110 has set up a Rotary Club Program Speakers list, a list of speakers that have been outstanding and have agreed to speak at other Rotary Clubs. District Secretary Beth Sheehan has started the list from several Eugene Clubs whose members rave about the quality of the speakers.  Send her more speaker names and help make the list grow: bethgaisersheehan@gmail.com.

Make Meetings FUN:  Assistant Governor Gwen DeBernardi of Bend shares that meetings can be fun by inventing ways to get people laughing: ask everyone to bring their pet to the zoom meeting (some people brought puppets or wore masks) then have a pet quiz contest. Offer fun prizes or raise money for the Rotary Foundation.  Membership Chair of Lincoln City Rotary, Patti Eisler, shares that they often get their members out cleaning up their beaches while social distancing.  Beach Bingo Clean-up cards are issued to members who then try to win by marking off items they bag off the beach.  Prizes are given out too! Lately, her Club member, and Past President Ron Chandler, has devised a Flash Cache game.  Members are given geographic coordinates in town, they take selfies in front of the business location, perhaps patronize the business or restaurant to support them, and then of course, more prizes.

The options and your member’s creativity are endless. We just need to INSPIRE ACTION.  Leaders inspire us to act now “rather than wait for things to return to normal.”

District Governor, Cindi O’Neil