District Governor's Message

District Governor’s Message – August 2020

My friends, brothers and sisters in Rotary,

We are fast moving into August which is the second month of RY2020-21. Though Rotary International has designated August as the Membership and New Club Development Month with the intention to remind us of our focus on membership development strategies, really there should not be any starting and finishing lines. As Rotarians, all of us are ambassadors of Rotary as well as our clubs at all times. We should be talking about Rotary wherever we go and whenever we are so that people know who we are and what we are. Find every opportunity to invite them to your meetings, activities and events. Get them into the “door” to see and feel for themselves what good we do!

As you are fully aware, as your District Governor, my top priority is to grow Rotary in our very own District. I have set a target of 100 clubs with 2,500 members by end June 2021. Every club has been urged to think big, think bold and have a strategic plan to grow their membership. I am urging all clubs to have a minimum membership size of 25 and for bigger clubs to go for 50.

Where do we stand after one month into RY2020-21? I am extremely pleased to inform you that we are on
the right track and our membership has increased from 1,790 to 1,817 in the first month of July 2020. Three
Interest Groups have initiated their meetings, of which one will be a cause-based club and a few more are in
the planning stage. For new clubs to be chartered, we are asking for a minimum of 25 to start off with, as
historical record and statistics show many clubs (more than 50%) world-wide that have been chartered with 20 have faced serious membership challenges and functioning capacity within 3 years due to attrition of
members. It is a hard fact that our own District has lost 17 clubs over the last 10 years. The District
Membership Committee will work very closely with you on the identification and formation of new clubs
in “untapped” towns and cities using club models that suit the needs of the people there. To me, the
different types of clubs will be the way of life in Rotary going forward. In addition to the traditional clubs,
the e-clubs, satellite clubs, Rotaract clubs, cause-based clubs, corporate clubs and passport clubs will help
make Rotary more inclusive, more flexible, more diversified and more attractive to new members. I urge
you to particularly explore aggressively the possibilities of setting up your satellite club(s) in and around
your area. These satellite clubs with membership between 8 to 20 are like your “service centres” and will
serve as an extension of your arm to reach out further to the community in need in your area.

One very important strategy that a club must do is to brainstorm on changes in club cultures and new
value propositions to be put into place where necessary to attract new members and retain old members.
We need to be inclusive to reach out to everyone – the family members, young and old, men and women,
people with different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Everyone is equal and there’s no wrong age to be a
Rotarian and to do good in the world. Of course there are clubs who are strong and comfortable with what
they are. Be it and there is nothing wrong in it!

In this fast changing world, we will become irrelevant and out of place if we are not prepared to embrace
changes and do not respond, adapt and adjust fast enough to the technological changes that are taking
place. Flexibility in meetings (Frequency, Time & Venue, Format of Meeting), attendance, classifications etc
are all part of the changes. In fact the door of Rotary is always open and there is a place for everyone, no
matter where you are and who you are. Examples, morning meetings or even online meetings could be good for working people; lunch meetings for retirees and established businessmen; evening meetings for
those who go for fellowship and bonding etc. There is no right or wrong answer but choose what best suits
your club.

It is a common knowledge that over 70% of the club members are more than 50 years old. If we don’t act
now and look for young people for continuity and fresh perspectives, the name Rotary will only be found
in history – How can we attract young people into Rotary? What are they looking for? What value propositions can we offer to attract them? It is understood that young people are basically looking for opportunities to network with business and community leaders in a club for guidance and mentorship, opportunity for leadership training and development and to play a leadership role in a club, opportunity for fellowship and networking with other fellow Rotarians and involvement in service.

As Rotarians, as I have said, we must talk Rotary wherever we go – at work, family gatherings, friends get
-together, parties etc. You have nothing to lose but everything to gain. At least it builds up your confidence
the more you talk about the good things about Rotary. Showcase our services and projects so that peple
know who you are and what you are.

There are many successful strategies adopted by other clubs that you can consider – Identify your star
members; be persistent like a salesman; embrace diversity; interesting meetings; engage community leaders
and volunteers in all your club projects etc. But most importantly, convince and get them in the door to see and feel Rotary. And remember that there’s no finishline for membership drive campaign. Even if your club is considered big, there is no reason to stop getting in new members as there are always reasons people leave.

While we saw a slight decline in membership due probably to Covid-19 pandemic in last Rotary year and many are concerned whether the trend will continue. However, I am confident that if we (both clubs and District) adopt the right strategies such as switching to highly cost efficient and effective on-line meetings that have resulted drastic reduction in administrative expenses, using digital media to reach out and connect to a much wider spectrum of people and many other innovative ways of providing services etc. As a strategy, the District Membership Committee is structured in such a way to focus on regional membership development and club extension, it is also very focus groups oriented – Reaching out to the Chinese-speaking and Muslim community, Women and young professionals and entrepreneurs. Rotary in District 3300 must reflect the demographic composition and geographical presence to be relevant and connected to the ground in the country. Rotary gives us endless opportunities just to do that!

We will soon embark on The Vibrant Clubs Training Seminars on a regional basis, starting from Klang
Valley in August, followed by Ipoh and Seremban in September and Penang and Kuantan in October. Clubs’
participation is strongly encouraged. We are also targeting to organise more localised meetings and to reach
out to people in towns and places where the presence of Rotary has yet to be established. This is where
clubs’ commitment and support could make a big difference!

Let us together talk Rotary, Share Rotary and Grow Rotary! Let Rotary connect and open opportunities for
everyone! Whatever we do, we open an opportunity for someone, somewhere!

Your brother in Rotary,
Teoh Kwan Swee
RY2020-21 District Governor
RI District 3300

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