Early in my career I enthusiastically read business journals which published stories of modern-day heroes. I was inspired by the intrigues and battles constantly faced by corporate warriors who were determined to deliver results for shareholders, customers and society in general.
I started my first business and modeled myself from those Wall Street conquerors who spent most of their time making critical decisions that led to creating the most innovative products, building the strongest brands and beating competitors. And most of these decisions were mainly focused on three things namely, addressing an unmet need in the market, leveraging on available financial resources, and implementing efficient systems and processes.
When I joined Rotary, I found that our clubs faced similar issues where market needs were replaced by community assessments, financial resources by service project grant funds, and efficiency by stewardship systems. It was a familiar environment which made decision making easier for me, but when I contemplated what the most important of these elements were, it was clear that there was a missing ingredient.
Yes, an effective operation is one that has a clear vision and strategy, because they guide all the activities to meet the core goals of the organization. And yes, it is important to have the right type of cash and resources available to be able to conduct your affairs and achieve those goals. And indeed, in order to run an organization sustainably, it is necessary to eliminate waste and make it as efficient as possible in the execution of the plans.
But none of this is possible without the right people. It is the people that draw up the strategy, manage the resources and execute the plans. It is people in the correct frame of mind, adequate expertise and sufficient experience who apply themselves to unite the elements of a successful organization in unique ways that enhance the group performance and beat the odds.
Last year alone $86 Million in grant funds were utilized for Rotary service projects around the world. These funds are available to all clubs that qualify for The Rotary Foundation grants but the ones that get the bulk of it have within their membership the right people who have the passion, organizational skills and relevant expertise to write grant proposals and execute them for the benefit of underprivileged communities.
The more members you have the more projects you will be able to implement and the more communities you will be able to uplift. Rotary International’s President Mark Maloney has asked every club to form a vibrant and active membership committee which develops attraction and recruitment plans in order to grow Rotary, not only where Rotary is missing, but also where Rotary is thriving.
Strengthen these membership committees by adding into them go-getters who have the ability to define effective membership attraction plans and bring in new members with infectious passion and the type of skills that will add value to our meetings and service projects. Get the team to utilize the membership leads programme where the contacts of prospective Rotarians are sent to your club president regularly. Then turn all the qualified leads into Rotarians this year.
If indeed people are the biggest assets that organizations have, then this should reflect in the investment in time and energy that our clubs make when it comes to engaging and retaining members. Place every member into a committee that matches their skills and interests and ensure that those committees are active and meeting regularly. Hold new member orientation seminars and general information meetings for prospective members.
You could also organize joint fellowships with other clubs and invite friends, family and colleagues who are not yet Rotarians so that you can give them a glimpse into the wonderful world of networking and voluntary service.
And finally, make a commitment that within the next 12 months you will personally bring in at least one new Rotarian into your club. If we all did this, we would easily double our numbers and our impact in society. As I make my club visits, I’d love to hear your plans to attract the right people into your membership and meet our district goals.
Joe is the District Governor 2019-20 of Rotary District 9212 and the Rotary International Representative to UN Environment. He is also the CEO of The Collective, a digital advertising agency, the chairman of the Advertising Standards Board of Kenya, and a board member of WWF-Kenya.