Last week I went looking for data on how many Rotarians were women. Although I found one outdated statistic, I could not find an actual membership report with even the raw data.

About six years ago, an international group of Rotarians of which I was a member, did a paper and we had no trouble finding demographic information on Rotary. In 2012, the Google search engine provided most of the links as the Rotary search feature wasn’t very good.

This time neither Rotary search, whether in the public domain or within My Rotary (the secure private area), or the search engines Google and Bing brought up any reports.

Hence, I wondered was this a case of poor search engines or was Rotary International becoming less transparent, that is not sharing information with the public or their members as a policy.

Hence I decided to research four topics:

  • The availability of the minutes and agendas of the Rotary International Board of Directors and The Rotary Foundation’s Board of Trustee’s meetings for the 2017-18 year;
  • Information with respect to organizational management and staff responsibilities;
  • Reports on the research Rotary has completed during the past decade either in-house or under contract to outside agencies;
  • Information concerning the selection process for the naming of the President-Nominee for the 2021 Presidential year.

I will present my findings in 4 separate posts: Governance,  the Bureaucracy, Research, and Nomination process.

Governance: Minutes and Agendas

I searched both the Board and the Trustees for the three components of Dates of Meetings, Agenda’s and Minutes

Time of search 3:14 pm Minutes 300px
Topic Search Minutes of RI Board  Meetings
Search Location My Rotary
Search Terms Minutes of RI Board Meetings
Search

Rating

5 star 200x20
Transparency

Rating

3 star “Board Decisions” is not the first term you are likely to use in a search for minutes.
Click Term Board Decision -page provides a summary of meetings to July 2015 and links to the minutes Board decisions 400px
Click Term Board minutes– July 2018 are retrieved as a downloaded PDF file Minutes PDF 300px
Time of Search 3:22 pm
Topic Search Board Meeting Dates Meeting Dates
Search Location My Rotary
Search Term Meeting Dates
Search Rating 5 star 200x20 The page above is the result. There was one page before it which leads directly to it.
Transparency Rating 5 star 200x20 Very clear and complete.
Time of Search 3:24 pm
Topic Search Board Meetings Agenda Agenda search 400px
Search Location My Rotary
Search Term Agenda
Search Rating 1 star Obviously, with titles like the ones above, nothing titled ‘”Agenda” exist.
Transparency Rating No stars

End of search time 3:25; Total Time of Governance search 11 minutes.

Conclusions and Recommendations

RI does a good job of sharing the Board and Trustee Minutes. It is obviously a policy of RI to share such documentation. Hence the issue of search becomes one of quality.

From 2015 to the present a summary of each meeting is on one page for each governance branch. For each summary, a link is visible to the actual minutes which can be downloaded as a PDF file. The assignment of the term “Board Decisions” does not immediately make you think of Board Minutes. This should be rethought. Because one is likely to use minutes, the minutes of board meetings prior to 2015, 2014 to be exact, can appear before the term Board Decisions further compounding the search. If you are in a hurry and only skim the text you are likely to miss the real content of  Board Decisions.

Because the minutes are buried inside the Decision/ Summaries search does not find them on the first page.

The Dates of the Meetings are well done as is the search. It did require two levels of search to acquire.

It is obvious that Rotary does not think it necessary to share Agendas. Hence, RI has a policy, not to share agendas. I would disagree with this policy and recommend that when the Agenda is sent to the Directors or Trustee members, it be posted to My Rotary at the same time. Those who would follow board actions would, I am sure, appreciate knowing beforehand what was to be discussed.

I do not think Rotarians should have to do a search for any of the above information. There should be, at the very least, a pull-down Menu or location where Agenda’s and Minutes are easily and quickly accessible. Better still, Rotary makes available in one place many Newsletters. There should be a place where Rotarians can sign up to receive agendas, and minutes of both the Board and Foundation when they are published. I would suspect that past DGs and others who are aspiring to be Directors or Trustees would be the Prime subscribers. Hence, locations that sent the message to Rotarians,  “We want you informed and involved about what your chosen leaders are doing on your behalf.” is needed.

Next post in this 4 Part Series:  Transparency – An Issue of Search or Policy: Part Two – Bureaucrats