A Message From Our RI President
President John Kenny
My fellow Rotarians:
I have always thought it important to bear in mind that Rotary is a voluntary organization, composed of people who are all themselves leaders. When addressing such an audience, I have never thought it fitting to exhort or demand. Every Rotary club is and must be autonomous: The leadership of Rotary International exists not to control, but to motivate and guide.
And so when we in Rotary speak about the importance of membership, I believe it of the utmost importance to bear in mind that the primary experience of Rotary, for the overwhelming majority of Rotarians, is of the club: of club meetings, club projects, and fellow club members.
When Paul Harris began the first Rotary club 104 years ago, he did not initially think of service. Instead, he had in mind a place where people of good character, intelligence, and morals could enjoy each other’s fellowship and friendship. The service came later, as a natural outgrowth of the gathering of such people.
Every good Rotarian, every member who shares our core values, will make a club that much stronger, and that much more attractive for others to join. Unfortunately, it is also the case that bringing in the wrong person can have the opposite effect. Rotarians are and must be people of a certain caliber – people with the capacity to do great deeds, the sense to do them wisely, and the strength of character to do them honestly and well.
In the end, I believe that the best way to bring new members into Rotary is the way it has been done for generations: One member invites a carefully chosen friend, client, or colleague to a meeting and, if the match is a good one, proposes that individual for membership. This is the way that our clubs remain harmonious; it is the way that new clubs become old clubs, and new members become Rotarians for life.
The membership challenges that we face today are considerable, and in many ways new. There is no denying the difficulties posed by the current global financial situation. But in the words of Henry Ford, “If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.” And as long as we all do our jobs well, and bring in new members carefully, this is a security we in Rotary will never lack.
President, Rotary International