Rotary International Kalyan Banerjee's September 2011 Message
My dear brothers and sisters in Rotary,
We have a color for the 2011-12 Rotary year, and that color is green. Why green? Because green is the color of spring, of new life, of bright leaves bursting forth from spreading branches. And there is no doubt that it is time to “green” Rotary – to lift our deepening pallor of gray and replace it with brighter shades of green.
Overall, in Rotary, only 11 percent of our members are under the age of 40, while 68 percent are over 50 and 39 percent are over 60. It’s not too hard to see where this will lead us in 10, 20, and 30 years down the line, if we don’t do something about it now. It is not enough to simply bring in new members. We need to bring in younger members, who will breathe new life and new vigor into our organization.
How can we be more attractive to younger members, who are so different in so many ways from the young professionals of a generation or two ago? We have to come to them where they are – and for most young people, where they are is on the Internet, on Facebook, on Twitter and e-mail, and on their smartphones. A club that doesn’t have a presence on the Internet simply doesn’t exist as far as they are concerned. A club’s website is its public face – and it has to be a good one.
More than anything, I believe we need to bring back the idea of the family of Rotary. We need to look at all of Rotary as one family: Rotarians, their families, and also Rotaractors, Interactors, Youth Exchange students and alumni, Foundation alumni, and so on. And we need to consider retention as an idea that applies not just to Rotarians, but to the entire family of Rotary.
Too often, we look outward
to find new members, and we do not see our own young generation,
waiting to be called upon. We must look to them to find the capable
and enthusiastic new members who will be the club presidents, the
district governors, and the RI senior leaders of tomorrow.
What will be your legacy?
Years ago, during a visit to New York City , I saw a T-shirt that said, "He who dies with the most wins." It seemed funny at the time, but we all read the stories of people who judge their success by their wealth. The problem is that material possessions often do not bring happiness, for there is always someone who has more.
Most of us, however, want our life to be measured by what we have done. Many Rotarians have expressed their appreciation of fellow Rotarians' service by promising a contribution to our Rotary Foundation that will live on after them. The earnings from their gifts go to our Annual Programs Fund year after year. What better legacy to the world?
By earlier this year, we had almost 8,000 commitments to the Bequest Society. These represented an expected value of about US$338 million, a significant share of the almost $700 million in assets and expectancies in our Permanent Fund.
The first Australian RI president, Angus S. Mitchell (1948-49), foretold the creation of the Permanent Fund in 1992, in a speech that ended with this story from the Talmud: Choni Hama'agel saw an old man planting a carob tree and asked when he thought the tree would bear fruit. "After 70 years" was the reply. "What!" said Choni. "Do you expect to live 70 years and eat the fruit of your labor?" "I did not find the world desolate when I entered it," said the old man. "And as my fathers planted for me before I was born, so I plant for those who will come after me."
We each have that same opportunity by making a bequest to our Rotary Foundation.
Source: Rotary International
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Rotary eClub NY1 * Updated 2011