MARK DANIEL MALONEY
March is the month we celebrate Rotaract —
and this has been quite a year for our young
partners in service.
Last spring, the Council on Legislation elevated
Rotaract in our constitution: Rotary International
is now the association of both Rotary clubs and
Rotaract clubs. Then in October, the Rotary Board
of Directors eliminated the artificial Rotaract age
limit and took other steps to break down barriers
that were preventing Rotaract from growing in
some parts of the world.
These steps were long overdue, because Rotaract
is a vision of what Rotary must become. Not only
do we need to open our doors to our young
colleagues, but we also have to open our ears and
minds to the Rotary experience they find most
engaging. That is one of the best ways we will
meaningfully grow Rotary.
When I say grow Rotary, I mean it in many ways.
We need to grow our service and to grow the
impact of our projects. Most importantly, however,
we need to grow our membership, so that we can
achieve more. Rotaractors provide this opportunity,
not only because they can transition to Rotary at
the time that is right for them, but also because
they understand what it will take to attract others
Business as usual will not work for us anymore.
Bringing in more members to replace the ones we
lose is not the answer. It is like pouring more water
into a bucket full of holes. We need to address
the root causes of member loss in many parts of
the world: member engagement that is not what
it should be and our member demographic that
skews steadily older.
It is time to make some fundamental changes.
We already know what the barriers are to an
engaged and diverse membership. It is time to
act on what we know: creating new membership
models, opening new paths to Rotary membership,
and building new Rotary and Rotaract clubs where
the existing clubs do not meet a current need.
New club models represent an opportunity to
connect with a more diverse group of individuals —
particularly those who are unable or unwilling
to join our traditional clubs. While new club
models have been emerging for some time, it is
up to district governors to make them a reality.
In January at the International Assembly, our
incoming district governors took part in an exercise
called Build Your Own Club Model. It was a
wonderful experience that puts them in the right
frame of mind for the work ahead.
Ultimately, however, it will be up to Rotaractors
and young Rotarians to create new club models
most meaningful to the next generation. We may
think we know what young people want from
Rotary clubs in the future, but I am confident that
what young people want will surprise us. It will be
our job to support their innovation, for it will help
us grow Rotary as
Rotary Connects the World
in this issue
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