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Rotarians unite!

Thursday 18 December, 2008

I attended this luncheon meeting Leadership Across Disciplines-Featuring Edwin H. Futa, General Secretary-Rotary International.  The Rotary club is an amazingly international organization with 33,000 clubs in 200 countries.  Bill Gates’ foundation made a $100,000,000 donation (which was matched, but the way), simply because he couldn’t replicate the scope of the organization himself.  Rotary has official observer status @ the UN.  Rotary Clubs are well-known & respected in many countries.  Small businesses can learn a lot from them.  Here’s what Ed had to say:

The organization got it’s name (founded in Chicago) by rotating luncheon meeting locations. It’s a very decentralized organization of autonomous clubs.  Their motto is to be an anchor in the community & work quietly but effectively.  The main community service project is the eradication of polio, which was initiated by a club in the Philippines, filtered upwards, & was adopted by the whole organization.  They only embark upon projects which are doable & measurable. They’ve been successful fighting polio in that 22 years ago there were 1000 new cases/day worldwide, & now there are only 887/year in 4 countries.  They considered trying to be everything to everyone, but decided against risking becoming nothing to no one.  Their next project could be focused on clean water, which would solve 11 diseases, or possibly the education/literacy of women in developing economies.  They are seeking partners to help them achieve these goals, such as working with Coca Cola on clean water because Coke plants can pollute & they want to work together to eliminate their pollution.  Another obvious goal is increasing membership, but a challenge to that is they have to respect the wishes of international clubs.  For example, they need/want younger members, but some clubs want them to remain old boys clubs (some still don’t admit women), so they just let others open new clubs which will admit younger members.

Rotary Clubs have moved way beyond a bunch of old rotund white guys meeting for lunch.  Small businesses can learn a lot from what Rotary has done & how they do it.  This event was arranged by The Young Executives Club.

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