2 thoughts on “Rotary Membership Analysis 4: Volunteer Time

  1. Dear Rotarian Wodon,

    for some time now I have been reading your interesting posts on the Rotarian Economist and it is your article „Rotary Membership Analysis 4: Volunteer Time“ which brings me to writing you – instead of dedicating my time to my currently managed service projects. Your findings and comments on the use of our volunteer time should find broad attention within Rotary; this should be openly discussed in clubs and districts and (at best) also amongst RI Directors and Trustees. I completely agree with you, that “because of the dedication of Rotarians, we have a huge potential to make a difference, and we do”. In view of the needs of the poor, of the marginalized unfortunate people, Rotary as one of the largest volunteer organizations of the world should aim at using its full potential to focus more on making the needed difference.

    You mention in your analysis two main areas where we could and should improve: First, the fact that only one in the four hours of service dedicated by Rotarians through their clubs and districts helps to achieve Rotary’s ultimate goal, namely making a positive difference in the life of the less fortunate. Secondly, the professional skills of the members do not come into play enough, apart from maybe in the Rotarian Action Groups (RAGs).

    It is the right time to start such a discussion on a large(er) scale, as Rotary’s new areas of focus, being in effect in all districts for nearly two years now, should come more into the focus of our humanitarian service. Rotary projects should be known as being sustainable and making a real impact to people in need. Rotary should be prepared to (visibly) contribute to the post-2015 development agenda, which the world community will decide upon this year.

    Your findings can hardly be questioned. Clubs and districts, Rotary in general, could and should increase their efforts to make the world a better place by reducing our volunteer time for organizational discussions in favor of direct service work. Probably most of us would agree that professional skills of Rotarians could be used much more than it is currently done. Vocational service is often looked upon as our “Cinderella” whilst we have leading people of most professions in our organization. Their professional skills need to be put together, complementing each other, in community and international service of clubs and districts. Achieving sustainable professional projects by better and/or more using our professional skills will attract funds from other sources (e.g. foundation, NGOs, IOs, etc.); such co-funding enables clubs and districts to also shoulder important large-scale projects. That will attract new members, potential new volunteers. Another great (and largely unused) potential for the implementation of more service/projects: the increasing number of pensioners. We should not let or make them fade out of the volunteer time but involve them more, as they might be interested to utilize their professional skills and experience for service projects. From experience I know that this can even help them to keep active and in good health. Another potential are our Rotaracters who often proved that they can also organize and implement successful projects on their own, bringing together Rotaracters in international clubs and host clubs. TRF should consider accepting global grant applications also from Rotaract Clubs, so that they are even more motivated to learn project management supported by their sponsoring ‘godparents’ Rotary Clubs. If reports from Rotaract Clubs were missing, new grant application could – just as done with Rotary Clubs – be suspended; the team spirit of Rotaracters would surely take care that reports are submitted to TRF in time. Finally, any Rotarian or Rotaractor who does not find enough opportunity for volunteering in Rotary projects can join one of the RAGs which dedicate their time assisting clubs to promote, plan, prepare, co-fund and implement projects in one or more of Rotary’s six areas of focus.

    The great potential of Rotary to implement successful professional projects that make a true difference is by far not fully utilized yet. Let us change that situation for the better in 2015 for the benefit of people in need and even the benefit of Rotary.


    Robert Zinser PDG D1860 RFPD CEO

    • Robert – thanks for this comment – we essentially agree – let me know if there are ways through which I could help. On Rotaractors doing their own projects, I also agree, although having a co-sponsor Rotary club for mentoring could help. I used to be a Rotaractor a long time back, and we could have benefitted from the experience of Rotarians in some of our service work…

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