How Can this Blog Be Useful To You? Priorities for 2015-16

This blog was launched almost nine months ago on world polio day. I took a short break from the blog over the last few weeks due to work and a holiday break, but I am now back and fresh to start blogging again. With the new Rotary year starting, I thought it would be interesting to share a few thoughts about my priorities for the blog, trying to make sure that the blog is useful to you – the readers. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you think that these are the right priorities!

Priority 1: Helping Clubs and Districts Design and Evaluate Projects

A number of other blogs on Rotary and service clubs – including Rotary-managed blogs such as Rotary Voices and Rotary Service Connections – regularly feature stories about successful service projects and initiatives. Information on projects is also available in Rotary showcase. All these are highly valuable resources, but there is also space for a different type of blog that would provide more in-depth analysis of successful projects, why they have been successful (or not), and how we know that this is the case. This last point matters: in order to be able to know whether projects have been successful or not, some form of evaluation is needed.

One of the priorities for the blog this coming year will therefore be to feature and analyze more successful projects implemented by service clubs as well as other organizations, discuss why the projects have been successful, and document how we know that they indeed have been successful. One of my convictions is that while Rotary is rightfully implementing many different types of projects, we could also progressively invest more in innovative projects that could be properly evaluated and expanded by others with deeper pockets if successful.

In addition, I also hope to make available through this blog a range of open access resources from different sources – including from my employer, the World Bank – that can help service clubs (and nonprofits more generally) think through the design and evaluation of their projects. Specifically, by the end of this new Rotary year, I hope that the blog will feature such resources in an easily accessible and organized way for most or perhaps all key areas of focus of the Rotary Foundation (promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children, supporting education, growing local economies, and eradicating polio).

Priority 2: Making the Contribution of Service Clubs Better Known

Rotary and other service club organizations are not always as good as they should be at explaining clearly what they do, and measuring their contribution to local communities and society. Consider just one example. We know how much the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International is contributing to projects around the world, but we do not have good estimates of how much clubs are contributing through their own small foundations and projects that do not benefit from Rotary Foundation funding. I have a few ideas about how this could be estimated, and will try them out. Also important is the value of the time and expertise that Rotarians are contributing to many different types of projects. These are all areas that I plan to investigate this year, with the hope that some of the results will be of use to clubs, districts, and perhaps even Rotary International.

Priority 3: Discussing Constraints and Opportunities for Growth

A year ago I published a book on membership in service clubs based on Rotary’s experience. The data collected for the book, as well as other data, can shed light on some of the constraints faced by clubs as well as opportunities for growth. Similar assessments could also be done for what is referred to in Rotary as “New Generations” (Interact and Rotaract clubs). This is another area where I hope to be able to invest a bit of time and share results as well as examples of good practice through the blog.

While the blog will continue to touch on other topics and will also welcome guest bloggers, these three areas are my tentative priorities for this coming year. Don’t hesitate to let me know what you think by commenting on this post or contacting me privately (if you prefer) through the Contact me page.

4 thoughts on “How Can this Blog Be Useful To You? Priorities for 2015-16

  1. Dear Quentin, I believe you mentioned the right priorities in your newest blog.

    Some thoughts to your Priority 1: Yes, we need more in-depth Analysis of successful Projects with an Evaluation. Cofunders are usually requesting Evaluations and we certainly need more cofunders. Yes, we should progressively invest more in innovative projects. However, our experience is that innovative projects as a Pilot should first be scaled up by the same team because others would possibly not fully understand the Innovation and a scaling up is the proof that the Innovation is useful and can after a successful Scaling Up be replicated by others. More and more we have to spread the message that it is the Impact of the Project which counts.

    As you know RFPD succeeded in getting our model Project into the Health System of the participating Nigerian states and beyond. So in a nutsshell: Clubs and districts should be aware how to improve their Project work beyond those small projects which have hardly any noteworthy Impact.

    Most interesting is your remark of making available “a range of open access resources from different sources – including World Bank”. May I ask which concrete chances do you see for 1. Replications of our proven Project strengthening Health Systems? 2. A Project providing a “Demographic Dividend”, for example in Nigeria by insuring enlightment of the people about voluntary Family Planning and assuring affordable Access to Family Planning services. You might know that for many years famous personalities like Kofi Annan warned “particulary the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, cannot be achieved if questions of population and reproductive health are not squarely addressed”. It would help if more politicans could support this issue which has a longterm, vital Impact for humanity

    Priority 2: Just the remark that “own small foundations” of the Clubs should in no way be promoted, all should contribute to TRF. Your remark to the (great) value of time and expertise that Rotarians are contributing is great. Maybe it should be made clear that the value of time and expertise for Large Scale Projects is especially important for Rotary.

    With my respect of your great work
    PDG Robert Zinser D1860, RFPD CEO
    Organization: Rotarian Action Group for Population & Development (RFPD)

  2. Many thanks for sharing your priorities Quentin – I really enjoy reading your insightful, thought provoking posts..

    In fact, I think of you as the Fareed Zakria of the Rotary World

    May your GPS continue to focus on focusing our North Star – and be an enduring Gift to the World…. of Rotary and beyond

    Thank you for your Rotarian Economist initiative!


    • Thanks John – Analogy with Fareed Zakria is much too generous. But will try to be even more pointed in some of the upcoming blog posts. Will have something hopefully interesting on polio very soon.

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