By Richard Cunningham, PP Rotary Club of James River, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Rotary International appears to have forgotten about the importance of “Club Service” as an avenue of service for the growth of Rotarians and the health of our clubs. Two new initiatives provide evidence of forgetfulness.

A) Two New Initiatives

i) Definition of a Member

Our new member definition reads “Rotarians must be adults who have demonstrated good character, integrity, and leadership; have a good reputation in their business, profession, and community; and are willing to serve in their community and around the world.”

ii) Volunteerism and Club Service

I have just returned from an RLI gathering of club leaders where I met club presidents serving their third and fourth terms. Leadership options have become a real problem for many clubs.

The pool of future leaders in most clubs is grown through volunteers engaging in club service. The stewardship of Club Service projects such as board management, speaker programs, weekly bulletins, club brochures, financial reporting, website maintenance and mentored induction programs are just some of the ways Rotarians do “Club service”.

My club accomplished 58 service projects across all avenues in 2015-2016. Thirty-two (32) were Club Service Projects. They were and are a large part of the portfolio of project opportunities we offer to engage current and future members and generate a sense of belonging. They provide opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence to take on greater responsibility.

An important recent addition to Club service is engagement with Rotary Club Central / My Rotary. On July 1st, RI President 2017-2018 Ian Riseley will implement an important and revolutionary change. From 1st July on, volunteer hours must be tracked in order for a club to be considered for a Presidential Citation.

B) Questions on these new initiatives

Important Club Service questions arise in relation to this new definition of Rotarian and the measurement of volunteer hours:

a. The new definition of a Rotarian

Club Service is the most important Avenue of Service in the minds of most of our hands-on leaders, yet it does not get a mention in this new definition. How about the inclusion of “… to serve their club, their community and our world”? At the same time, is RI seriously proposing that we should all travel the world?

b. The Measurement of Volunteer Hours

Our club has been recording volunteer hours for almost two years. A huge part of those hours, 55% to be exact, are donated to club service.

At Rotary Club Central, the allocation choices for volunteer hours are:

Community Service Youth/New Generations
International service Fundraiser
Vocational Service Polio


C) Four reasons to track Club Service

Why does RI not care to track Club Service?

Here are four reasons to track Club Service. They are:

  1. important recognitions accompany it;
  2. fosters engagement (attraction and retention);
  3. develops a sense of belonging (retention) and
  4. Addresses the dearth of leadership with which we are currently confronted.