Creating lasting, positive change
When we started this Rotary year on 1 July 2021, we were focused on COVID-19, in particular on increasing access to vaccinations. We may not have expected that nearly a year later, we'd still be living through the pandemic, as well as facing humanitarian crises, a war in Ukraine, and environmental disasters.
In response, our members have taken action and connected with each other and with our communities to make the world a better place. And the staff of Rotary International has assisted at every step, providing resources, tools, and support to help us increase our impact, expand our reach, enhance participant engagement, and better adapt to the changing world around us.
We're about to announce the recipient of our second Programs of Scale grant. We continue our commitment to creating environments where peace can flourish. We introduced a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Code of Conduct and supported clubs as they adopted innovative models that can adapt to the needs of current and future members. And support for The Rotary Foundation remains strong, thanks to our generous donors and successful events like World Polio Day, World Immunization Week, and Giving Tuesday.
People of action are needed as never before. I'm grateful we have 1.4 million change-makers who are ready to make a difference.
— John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary and CEO
Making a difference
Providing humanitarian aid to Ukrainians
Rotary, our clubs, and our partners quickly mobilized resources to bring aid to people affected by the war and the devastating humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
Members, clubs, and districts were able to contribute to and receive funding for relief efforts through The Rotary Foundation. Designated Rotary districts in Ukraine and in neighboring countries can apply for expedited grants of up to US$50,000 from the Disaster Response Fund through 30 June to provide relief to refugees and others who have been affected. Other districts that want to help directly can apply for US$25,000 disaster response grants until the end of June.
Rotary districts were able to transfer unallocated District Designated Funds to the Disaster Response Fund to support Ukraine-specific humanitarian grants. As of 30 April, we raised more than US$13.1 million for this effort, and approved 74 disaster response grants.
Rotary has also been in contact with the U.S.-based nonprofit USA for UNHCR (the UN refugee agency) to prepare for and respond to the needs of people who are being displaced within Ukraine and to nearby countries. ShelterBox, our project partner for disaster response, is working with Rotary members in the region to provide temporary housing and essential supplies for people who are leaving Ukraine.
The Rotary Action Group for Refugees, Forced Displacement, and Migration is providing guidance to clubs and districts about how to support refugees arriving in their communities and how to help people who have been displaced in their home countries.
The vaccination imperative
Vaccines are one of the safest and most effective ways to protect people from disease. With COVID-19 continuing to circulate globally, the RI Board of Directors and The Rotary Foundation Trustees released a statement strongly supporting vaccines as a way to end the pandemic and encouraging members to support vaccination efforts in their communities.
Many clubs took action. In Guyana, for instance, members of the Rotary Club of Demerara drew on three decades of experience fighting disease in order to deliver COVID-19 vaccines and aid to vulnerable Indigenous communities.
Education, advocacy, and action
Learning, advocacy, and service are all part of Rotary's DNA. Together, they lay the foundation for long-term, sustainable change.
The Interact Club of Valmiki, Nepal, highlighted the approach of learning through service in its submission video for the 2021 Interact Awards. Using interviews, field studies, and questionnaires, members learned what has contributed to their economy (agriculture) and what has led to unemployment (COVID-19). Based on this knowledge, the club provided 400 chicks to 40 families to help them start their own small businesses and develop skills that can improve their economic prospects.
And 130 Rotary Peace fellows — 80 working toward professional development certificates and 50 toward master's degrees — began their studies in the past year at our seven Rotary Peace Centers. They spend one to two years learning about peace and development issues and use their expertise to become leaders at institutions that support peace in their communities and around the globe.
Programs of Scale
Rotary's Programs of Scale grant supports the expansion of a well-developed and successful service project into a wider-ranging program that can make an even bigger impact for more people. This year's recipient will be announced in just a few days.
Partners for a Malaria-Free Zambia, the first program to receive the grant, seeks to reduce malaria by 90% in two highly affected provinces of Zambia. Since 2021, the program has trained, equipped, and deployed more than 1,300 of a planned 2,500 new community health workers. This influx of health professionals has already led to more cases being quickly diagnosed and treated.
As local awareness of Rotary's impact has increased, so has interest in joining our efforts. We've expanded our reach by chartering new clubs in Zambia and we are increasing member engagement in the region.
The value of Rotary's partnerships
Partnerships allow us to connect with other organizations that share our vision of creating lasting, positive change. After extending our successful partnerships with the Peace Corps and the Institute for Economics and Peace, we look forward to continuing our work as peacebuilders for years to come.
Our work with the Global Partnership for Education is focused on increasing girls' participation in school. This partnership is built around the ability of our members to advocate for thoughtfully planned projects that provide appropriate, equitably distributed resources. Our members in Kenya and Ghana are working with public education officials and private companies to reach families and girls with messages about the importance of girls' education.
We also celebrated a decade of our official partnership with ShelterBox, an organization we have in fact worked with for more than 20 years already, providing more than 2 million people with emergency shelter, essential items, and training to help communities recover after natural disaster or conflict.
The end of polio is near
Ending polio remains the primary goal of Rotary and our partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). With cases caused by the wild poliovirus at their lowest level in history, we have an unprecedented opportunity to stop transmission of the disease by accelerating immunization efforts, strengthening polio surveillance, and implementing new strategies to reach more children.
The polio eradication effort continues to face challenges and our work isn't finished, but we are making encouraging progress that wouldn't be possible without the support of members worldwide.
As part of its new strategic plan, GPEI is integrating polio vaccinations into larger community efforts to meet basic needs. Khadim Solangi Goth, located outside Karachi, Pakistan, had been one of the last reservoirs of wild polio on the planet. It has the lowest vaccination rate in the country, but residents had larger concerns — they needed clean water, electricity, and health care. By providing these necessities, the GPEI partners earned the community's trust, and residents welcomed vaccinators into their homes to protect their children from polio.
Making a difference through The Rotary Foundation
Every year, we set an ambitious fundraising goal for The Rotary Foundation. We've exceeded our targets for the past several years, and we expect 2021-22 to be no different. We hope to raise US$410 million this year, and as of 30 April, we were at US$350.2 million. Our goal is within reach.
The Foundation achieved other fundraising milestones this year. In October, donors contributed close to US$750,000 for World Polio Day. A month later, we raised nearly US$1.2 million on Giving Tuesday — a Rotary record! Some of our most engaged clubs were in Taiwan, Singapore, the United States, the Bahamas, and India.
An increasing number of members are also using Raise for Rotary to create online fundraisers for the Foundation. This year, more than 1,359 pages have raised US$895,700. Raise for Rotary now supports the Australian, Canadian, and U.S. currencies, with more to come. We are encouraged by its success.
The value of Rotary membership
Increasing participation and membership are key priorities for us. As of 30 April, 168,460 new members joined Rotary and 1,708 clubs were chartered during the Rotary year.
Most new members are introduced to Rotary by current members. To honor those who've shared the gift of Rotary by bringing in 25 or more members, we introduced the Membership Society for New Member Sponsors. Nearly 800 members have reached different levels of recognition.
Removing barriers to inclusion
Our members want and expect Rotary to be diverse, equitable, and inclusive, which is why we're helping clubs foster environments where people from different backgrounds, cultures, and countries feel even more welcome and valued.
We strengthened our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) by sharing the results of our first global DEI survey, which we used to develop a plan that will guide our future efforts. We also introduced a DEI Code of Conduct and added new courses in the Learning Center.
Resources for clubs and members are available at rotary.org/dei. You can also connect with groups like the LGBT+ Rotary Fellowship, which works with clubs on projects that support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.
The rise of Rotaract
This year, we built on the decision to include Rotaract clubs as a distinct membership type, positioning Rotary for a future that's innovative and adaptable.
Rotaract clubs can now track their own membership leads that come from rotary.or/join and report an expanded list of club officers to Rotary. This gives them access to the information and tools they need to support their members and activities.
Members of Rotaract can also now be appointed to district committees. Philip Flindt of the Rotaract Club of København Nord, Denmark, became the first Rotaractor to be named as a Rotary public image coordinator.
And Rotaractors can be nominated for more Rotary awards. Maria Valentina Martinez Belo of the Rotaract Club of Ing. Boris Walter, Venezuela, and Ignacio González Mendez of the Rotaract Club of Oriente de Talca, Chile, are the first Rotaract members to receive the Service Above Self Award.
Starting in 2022-23, Rotaract clubs can be one of the sponsors of a global grant and can receive district grant funds. Rotaractors will also begin paying Rotary International membership dues. This funding will help Rotary support and strengthen Rotaract clubs.
New members joined Rotary
Clubs were chartered during the Rotary year
The number of people expressing interest in Rotary also grew. As of 30 April, we received 16,345 membership inquiries via My Rotary this Rotary year, an increase of 27% over fiscal year 2021.
We attribute this partly to making the site more functional, increasing our communications with district and club leaders, introducing a better mobile experience, and allowing members to refer people to their own clubs.
People can also now inquire about joining Rotaract clubs, which brings even more opportunities for growth.
Going beyond the club experience
Although it's important for Rotary to add members, it's equally important that we give people reasons to stay. Our surveys show that members remain in Rotary because of the friendships they make and the opportunities to serve.
Rotary offers many programs where members can meet new people and volunteer outside of their clubs.
Through more than 90 Rotary Fellowships in over 150 countries, members can be part of communities built around shared professions, identities, and hobbies.
Eight new fellowships formed in the past year:
Friends of Alsace
Rotary members and friends in more than 150 countries also put their interests and expertise to use with our 27 Rotary Action Groups, such as the Food Plant Solutions Rotary Action Group or the Rotary Action Group for Diabetes. This year, more than 500 Rotaractors, 4,800 nonmembers, and 30,000 Rotary members supported more than 2,400 projects through action groups.
Nonmembers who share our commitment to service and want to make a difference can also be part of a Rotary Community Corps (RCC). There are 12,000 RCCs around the world, including the nearly 500 chartered this year, like the Rotary Community Corps of Pasig Premier in the Philippines. Created by members of the Rotary Club of Pasig Premier to bring people together, it helped those who had to flee their homes when the Taal volcano erupted in January 2020. And after the COVID-19 pandemic reached the country, the RCC helped students by providing low-cost printing for remote-learning materials and established a food bank to help families facing economic hardship and isolation.
Adapting for today's members
Being a Rotary member can be a very different experience today than it was even a decade ago — and that's a good thing. It means our clubs are adapting to meet the needs of current and prospective members who want to participate in ways that align with their schedules, hobbies, and interests. These are a few of the clubs that are doing that:
Rotary E-Club de Motociclistas
Club members in District 4521 (Brazil) used the friendships they had made through the International Fellowship of Motorcycling Rotarians to create a new kind of Rotary club that meets online and incorporates motorcycle culture and events into its community service and environmental projects.
Rotary Club of Ulsan Daeduck
The Rotary Club of Ulsan Freedom, Ulsan, Korea, was chartered by North Korean refugees to assist others adapting to the community. Club members use their Rotary connections to provide people with employment services, medical care, legal aid, and education. Today, half of the club’s members are former refugees.
Rotary Club of Gold Coast Passport
Meetings of the Rotary Club of Gold Coast Passport, Queensland, Australia, are a mix of social gatherings and service events. Determined to attract younger people who want to volunteer but who need flexibility, the club recommends but does not mandate that each member carry out at least 30 hours of service a year. It also works with other Rotary clubs on projects where members can utilize their professional and technological expertise.
Telling our story
Telling Rotary's story in an effective way can increase our appeal, raise awareness of our work, and bring new opportunities to engage with partners, donors, and members.
The Rotary Club of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, used the Rotary Brand Center to transform its online presence. Using the brand guidelines, photo resources, and logo template — all of which have been updated recently — they designed a new club website and produced a video that features members talking about their experiences and the impact their club has in the community. Visits to the website have increased and membership has grown by 20%, with many new members saying that they found the club via the updated site.
Rotary's power to transform communities is a story worth sharing with the world.