Editor's page (June 2009)
Y ou don’t need me to remind you that times are tough. We all struggle – at home, at work, and in our clubs.
But there is good news too. Thanks to RI President Dong Kurn Lee’s strong initiative, Rotary has seen membership increases in many parts of the world, including India, Malaysia, Germany, and Nigeria (through 31 March). Additionally, total contributions to The Rotary Foundation (including PolioPlus) through the first eight months of the Rotary year were up 5.34 percent compared with the same period last year. And while all this speaks to the strength of our organization and the generosity of Rotarians, it doesn’t alleviate concern at the local level, where clubs and districts are battling to maintain their own membership and contribution figures.
I’ve heard from many of you by e-mail, phone, and social networks about ways your clubs have been addressing the current economic challenges. The Rotarian reflects your concerns with articles this month on philanthropy during tough economic times, including Brad Webber’s article on Rotary clubs in two U.S. cities hit hard by the recession (page 33).
The tendency is to focus on how to cut spending both personally and professionally during difficult financial periods. And clubs are finding creative ways to reduce the costs of membership to retain (and assist) current Rotarians and to attract new members.
But let’s remember to emphasize and promote the value of Rotary club membership during this time as well. It’s easy to take for granted all that Rotary offers us. Let’s also remind ourselves that the weekly club meeting serves as a refuge from our personal struggles. Clubs everywhere are now helping members in need, with both financial assistance and business networking opportunities.
Our magazine highlights the humanitarian spirit and global reach of Rotary and its clubs. But when times get tough, Rotary clubs focus more and more on the local level, helping friends, neighbors, and community businesses. And that should start right within in our own clubs, with our fellow members.