By John Borst
Considering that there are over 1.2 million Rotarians there are very few “blogs” dedicated to sharing views about Rotary in existence.
In this case, a blog is a format for sharing ideas about Rotary both good news stories and opinions both positive and critical about Rotary initiatives or policies.
Most use WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr software. All are Content Management Systems (CMS) which permit an individual to write an article and post it without knowing much about coding. It is nearly impossible to know how many blogs exist but the best bet today is somewhere near 200,000,000. A better statistic is how many posts per day have occurred which as I write this is over 1,700,000.
Rotary International has a blog called Rotary Voices: stories from around the world It is a blog of good news stories about what Rotary is accomplishing and rarely shares a Rotarian’s “Voice” which questions a policy position or practice.
Blogs of a critical nature are more likely to exist at the Zone or District level and are usually the voice of one or a few Rotarians.
One of the earliest is Zone 34’s Retention Central by Jim Henry. Henry wrote his first piece in 2010 and believes
“Organization failure begins at the top. Rotary did not stop growing because people were not interested in joining local Rotary clubs. The number of people joining Rotary clubs proves that. It stopped growing because its leaders assumed it was in the business of supplying humanitarian services rather than in the business of creating Rotarians; they were product oriented instead of member oriented.”
His opinions are well researched, written at a high level, and data heavy. Graphically, I find the bookshelves in the background a total distraction and I’d change it to a soft neutral color.
Zone 24-32 has a blog titled Great Ideas to Share managed by the dynamic duo of Penny and Chris Offer. Its purpose is
“…..to provide a place to share ideas, information, statistics, trends etc. In other words, a place to figure out what “Best Practices” look like, for Rotary programs, public image enhancement, The Rotary Foundation and strengthening Rotary clubs.”
There appear to be close to 150 posts, of wide-ranging topics and it has just passed 48,000 visitors.
The blog uses a simple clean WordPress template pleasing to the eye. My only suggestion would be to break each post so more articles are accessible from the home page, without scrolling down through entire posts.
At the District level, this blog 5550Opinions was created to permit opinions and comments because as manager of the District 5550 website I conceived of it as being like a newspaper and newspapers have editorials and commentary. I also wanted to engage Rotarians in a discussion on the management of Rotary as an institution.
The first post was made in March of 2011 and this piece will mark number 187.
One of the reasons for having a blog (and a club website for that matter) is that it permits others to share ideas about Rotary through personal and club FaceBook pages.
This is beautifully illustrated with one particular post made in 2014 at 5550Opinions. One of my practices was to post the monthly message of the Rotary president and Trustee Chair of the Rotary Foundation. Both messages, however, when shared by Rotary are done so without titles. I always added a title.
In January 2013, then president, Sakuji Tanaka, wrote a message which I titled “The Importance of Wearing the Rotary Pin”. During 2013 it was viewed all of 87 times. In 2014, 127 times but in August 2015, someone, somewhere using search engines, found it and posted it to a FaceBook page which then got shared on other Facebook pages and was viewed 6,008 times. That was 63% of all views that year. The same trend has continued in 2016. To date, that item has been viewed 8,346 times with a single day high of 2002 views.
Another advantage of having a post that “keeps on giving” is because it pulls other posts along with it as visitors search or roam the blog while there.
There are a few individual or groups of Rotarians who blog. Some of those I have found are:
This is actually a group of Rotarian bloggers out of the United Kingdom. The WP site is pleasing to the eye and with provocative titles. The number of comments is extraordinarily high so traffic must be good when one comment per 100 views is exceptional.
Rethink Rotary is by the very talented Katie Coard. It is her effort to encourage other Rotarians and Rotary clubs all over the world to rethink how they do Rotary and start to make being a Rotarian relevant and vital for future generations.
She appears to have designed the site specifically, for good interaction with mobile devices such as cellphones and tablets. Her most recent post is Should Rotary Be A Family Affair?
Created by Quentin Wodon, an economist, in October 2014, the Rotarian Economistaim is to help “Wodon uses a WordPress template and puts his emphasis on providing a rigorous analysis of issues related to the strengths of Rotary clubs and projects. His blog includes also series of briefs, papers, and occasionally videos, and will soon feature a range of additional resources for Rotarians in the form of free ebooks.”.
Greg Krauska’s Innovate Rotary strives to “provide insights on how you can create a thriving, growing, high-impact Rotary clubs – and other nonprofits!” He has been blogging, all-be-it infrequently since 2010. Some of his topics are a little off the beaten track, such as the one on the PowerBall frenzy or his love –hate relationship with Rotary.
Greg uses the lesser known TypePad CMS blogging software.
- e Lastly are two personal bloggers who occasionally post articles on their Rotary experience among other items on their personal blogs. They are martyhelm and A Noble Purpose by Pepi Noble. Both have been blogging since 2011.
I am sure there are more Rotary blogs out there. A few District governors create a blog for a year and they then turn dormant. One, now Past DG who was been blogging since becoming the DG Nominee in October 2013, and has continued now as PDG, is Ken Solow with his Ready Fire Aim Rotary blog. Solow brings humour to the task and is unique in his use of video.
Blogs, unfortunately, are an underutilized format for both sharing the Rotary story and stimulating thought on how to improve our organization. For example how many District websites have a links widget or tab with a list of Rotary blogs?
If you know of a Rotary blog not on this list, please share it below in the comments section. I’m sure the blogger will thank you.
In closing, I would like to encourage more Districts and Zones to have a creative, active, and knowledgeable member or team of members accept the opportunity to write for or create a blog and end for what has been, too long, a lost opportunity.