Hewko outlines five priorities for strengthening Rotary’s image, reach
RI General Secretary John Hewko spelled out five priorities for strengthening the organization during the fifth plenary session of the International Assembly. Rotary Images/Monika Lozinska
A number of major initiatives are underway that will help Rotary International’s professional staff, the Secretariat, be a more effective, efficient, and useful resource for clubs and districts.
Addressing the fifth plenary session of the International Assembly, an annual training event for incoming district leaders, RI General Secretary John Hewko spelled out five priorities for strengthening the organization, ones he said would put Rotary on the best footing possible as it begins its second century. (Watch a video of the speech )
“Rotary is an organization with an incredible history and there is no question that its best years are yet to come,” Hewko said. “These five priorities, as well as many others, will strengthen our great organization and have a significant, positive impact down to the level of the club and individual Rotarian.”
Hewko said the first priority is the eradication of polio, Rotary’s signature global initiative since 1985. Eradication of polio will save hundreds of thousands of children from suffering from the disease, and save the world between US$40 billion and $50 billion in health care costs over the next 20 years.
A robust public relations campaign is underway to publicize Rotary’s work in polio eradication.
“Our success in polio eradication will set the stage for the next global initiative that Rotary chooses to tackle, whatever that may be,” Hewko said.
The second priority is implementing RI’s Strategic Plan and the global launch of the Future Vision Plan, The Rotary Foundation’s new grant making model. Hewko said Future Vision is the second most important Rotary initiative, after polio, and it will be important to get district leaders on board to support the launch.
“Successful implementation of Future Vision will lead to projects and programs in the six areas of focus that are better designed and more sustainable and scalable, and that will lead to greater impact,” he said. “This, in turn, will increase our profile, reputation, and public image and will make Rotary more attractive to outside funding sources. Future Vision will bring considerable and tangible positive benefits to clubs and districts.”
Rotary Club Central
The third priority, developing a new tool called Rotary Club Central, will help Rotary place a value on the thousands of service projects clubs do each year. The online resource will help clubs maintain a record of past activities; set and track strategic goals and initiatives; and allow reporting of the global, collective impact of club, district, and zone activities.
“We know how much funding passes through The Rotary Foundation -- approximately $100 million per year excluding polio [funding] -- but we have no idea of the total value of all of the money raised, in-kind contributions made, and volunteer hours spent by clubs worldwide on service projects,” Hewko said. “Having a credible number would enhance our reputation, help with membership, and make us more attractive to potential strategic partners.”
The fourth priority is membership, including making Rotary more appealing and relevant to younger members. The RI Board has launched an initiative to develop three-year regional membership plans tailored to specific regional needs and challenges. Achieving this priority will also require revamping the website to improve performance and make it more user friendly, increasing use of social media, looking at expanding e-clubs, and giving clubs greater flexibility with attendance requirements.
The board is also working with an international agency with a track record of success to provide a fresh global perspective of Rotary’s brand, its membership, core strengths, competition, and operating philosophy.
“Ultimately, I believe, this process will more than revitalize a brand. It will revitalize Rotary -- ensuring that Rotary is recognized the world over for what it does,” Hewko said. “And make no mistake: what Rotary does is nothing short of amazing.”
The fifth priority is positioning Rotary more fully as a major player in global humanitarian assistance and development.
“Here we have Rotary, with its incredible platform of 1.2 million engaged, active, and motivated members, drawn from the business and professional networks of tens of thousands of communities,” Hewko said. “In short, a private-sector platform that is unmatched in the world today.”
“I re-pledge to you today that I will invest every ounce of my energy to ensure that the Rotary flame burns ever brighter, so that working together we can continue to make the world a better place,” he said. “For our families and friends, for our communities and countries, and for future generations to come.“
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