Why I Joined Rotary & Continue To Invite Others to Join It, Too
I have been a Rotarian for 40 years, or half of my current 80 years of age
People often ask why. I can cite more than a dozen reasons or benefits. As one stays longer in the organization, the reasons become clearer, mostly drawn out of personal experience.
It helps that the rules of engagement in Rotary encourage interacting with one’s fellows, exchanging views, and working with one another in a team. This validates the experience and impressions borne of interaction and working together.
Here is a list of reasons and/or benefits for joining Rotary and inviting others to join it, too.
1. Friendship: In an increasingly complex world, Rotary provides one of the most basic human needs: the need for friendship and fellowship. It is one of two reasons why Rotary began in 1905. It is also why Rotary is one organization where club members meet with regularity, often at the same venue and at the same time each week.
Since its founding in Chicago, USA, Rotary has expanded to about 200 countries and territories and counts some 1.2 million professionals, businessmen and women, and community leaders among its members. Many develop lifelong friendships with Rotarians from other countries.
2. Business Development: The second original reason for Rotary`s beginning is business development. Everyone needs to network. Rotary consists of a cross section of every business community. Its members come from all walks of life. Rotarians help each other and collectively help others. No one single profession or trade is allowed to predominate in a club.
3. Personal Growth and Development: Membership in Rotary continues one’s growth and education in human relations and personal development. Members are all volunteers. They can leave anytime they wish. To stay on for years, they have to find something deeper and more satisfying. The ambience in Rotary encourages people to ecourage each other in self-development. From former strangers, they soon become friends; often for life.
4. Leadership Development: Membership in Rotary is by invitation. People are invited for their leadership potential. Rotary, therefore, is an organization of leaders and successful people. Leading volunteers requires additional attitudes and skills not often discussed in management schools.
Every Rotary club elects its officers at least two years in advance so that they can be trained and are good and ready when they assume office. Serving in Rotary positions is like a college education. There is a prescribed training for every office holder. Thus, Rotary is a continuing academy for learning how to motivate, influence, and lead leaders.
5. Citizenship in the Community: The most important activity of a Rotary club is humanitarian service for particular communities. Membership in a Rotary club, therefore, makes one a better community citizen. The average Rotary club consists of the most active citizens of any community.
6. Continuing Education: Each week at Rotary there is a program designed to keep one informed about what is going on in the community, the nation, and the world. Club service includes choosing topics and inviting speakers and resource persons for regular club meetings that are pertinent to the diverse professions and businesses held by club members. Each meeting thus provides an opportunity to listen to different speakers and a variety of timely topics.
7. Fun: Rotary is a voluntary organization. It is often an add-on to the busy day of fulltime professionals and business practitioners. So Rotary clubs take pains to make their meetings an opportunity for members to unwind and relax, even as they discuss important concerns in the community. To keep Rotarians coming back, it is important to make their meetings fun. The club projects are fun. Social activities are fun. The service is fun.
8. Public Speaking Skills: Many individuals who joined Rotary were afraid to speak in public. Rotary develops confidence and skill in public communication and the opportunity to practice and perfect these skills. Every Rotary meeting follows a structure that allows different levels of participation by the members. At every level, there is an opportunity to practice public speaking and other social skills.
9. Citizenship in the World: Every Rotarian wears a pin that says “Rotary International. “ There are few places on the globe that do not have a Rotary club. Every Rotarian is welcome — even encouraged — to attend any of the over 36,000 clubs in close to 200 nations and geographical regions. This means instant friends in both one’s own community and in the world community.
10. Assistance when Traveling: Rotary clubs are asked to publish in the Rotary International Directory when, where, and what time they regularly meet. Every Rotary traveler can consult this directory as he/she plans his/her travel itinerary.
This also allows the traveling Rotarian an opportunity to “make up” in another Rotary club for his/her absence at his/her home club’s regular meeting. Because there are Rotary clubs everywhere, many a Rotarian in need of a doctor, lawyer, hotel, dentist, advice, etc., while traveling has found assistance through Rotary.
11. Entertainment: Every Rotary club and district has parties and activities that provide diversion in one’s business life. Rotary holds conferences, conventions, assemblies, and institutes that provide entertainment in addition to Rotary information, education, and service.
12. The Development of Social Skills: One of the core values of Rotary is Diversity — the respect and tolerance of every person regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, culture, or belief. It is important that a Rotarian from any country can walk into a Rotary club and be accorded the friendship that is basic to Rotary. Even more important is to ensure such reception to every member of the home club. Thus, every week and at various events and functions, Rotary develops one’s personality, social skills and people skills. Rotary is for people who like people.
13. Family Programs: Rotary provides one of the world’s largest youth exchange programs; high school and college clubs for future Rotarians; opportunities for spouse involvement; and a host of activities designed to help family members in growth and the development of family values.
14. Vocational Skills: The Object of Rotary includes high ethical standards in business and the professions and the recognition of the dignity of all useful human occupations. Every Rotarian is expected to take part in the growth and development of his or her own profession or vocation; to serve on committees and to teach youth about one’s job or vocation. Rotary helps to make one a better doctor, lawyer, teacher, etc.
15. The Development of Ethics: Rotarians practice a Rotary Code of Conduct and a 4-Way Test that governs one’s ethical standards. Rotarians are expected to be ethical in business and personal relationships.
16. Cultural Awareness: Around the world, practically every religion, country, culture, race, creed, political persuasion, language, color, and ethnic identity is found in Rotary. It is a cross section of the world’s most prominent citizens from every background. Rotarians become aware of their cultures and learn to love and work with people everywhere. They become better citizens of their countries in the process.
17. Prestige: Rotary members are prominent people: leaders of business, the professions, art, government, sports, military, religion, and all disciplines. Rotary is the oldest and most prestigious service club in the world. Its ranks include national leaders and corporate executives, managers, professionals — people who make decisions and influence policy.
18. Nice People: Rotarians above all are nice people — the nicest people on the face of the earth. They are important people who follow the policy of “it is nice to be important but it is important to be nice.”
19. The Absence of an “Official Creed”: Rotary has no secret handshake, no secret policy, no official creed, no secret meeting or rituals. It is an open society of men and women who simply believe in helping others.
20. The Opportunity to Serve: Rotary is a service club. Its business is mankind. Its product is service. Rotarians provide community service to both local and international communities. This is perhaps the best reason for becoming a Rotarian: the chance to do something for somebody else and to sense the self-fulfillment that comes in the process and return of that satisfaction to one’s own life. It is richly rewarding.
After 40 years as a Rotarian, I can affirm each and every reason listed above from personal experience. Indeed, Rotary has become a way of life for many a professional or business person. I will be glad to receive a message or email from any interested reader. You may reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. ###