Being new to Rotary, I'm learning as I go along. I decided that one way I can learn quickly the best way to carry out my role within the club (Chair of Service Projects Committee) is to visit other clubs and find out how they do things.
When a club is formed there is a sponsoring club, and our sponsor club is the Rotary Club of Canterbury. They were formed way back in 1922 and meet on a Tuesday Lunch time. For me, I could never regularly attend a lunch time meeting as I couldn't take that much time away from work. However, being self employed does have some advantages so occasionally I can be out of the office for a long lunch, so Tuesday 15th July I made my first visit to another club.
I learnt a lot about Rotary in that meeting. I'll try and collect all those observations and condense them;
- Firstly the welcome. Everyone was easy to talk to, keen to hear how the new baby club was coming along (they'd met a few of the members at previous meetings and some of them regularly attend our meetings).
- Secondly, age brings with it the trappings of establishment. That's not a bad thing, just an observation. At our Charter night (more on that later) we were given things useful to new rotary clubs by many other rotary clubs. The gong - to bring the meeting to order, a lecturn for meetings, chains of office for the president and so on. Canterbury has some very ornate member name badges stored in a sizable wooden box to keep them safe. Our club badges are on order but won't be quite so ornate. They gave me a printed booklet with all their members contact details - it's already been useful as I met someone that couldn't make morning meetings but was interested in joining a lunch time Rotary club. As our club develops we are getting more and more of these trappings which should help us to work more effectively.
- Thirdly, they are all a lot older than our club. I get the impression that people rarely leave Rotary so the club's average age gets older and older. That can start to cause trouble recruiting as there starts to be a generation gap.
- Fourthly, I spoke with a Rotarian who was very candid with his opinion of the club. In essence, he said that he found the club 'stuffy' and not like the first rotary club he joined in a different area. However, when he moved he wanted to continue within Rotary, at lunch times, and this was the only club that met his availability. The working style of the club was far less important than the activity of Rotary within the community. This I found most impressive, the attitude I'm finding as I meet more and more Rotarians is they are not their for personal gain, they really are there for the benefit of others, fostering the ideal of service as per the object of Rotary
- Finally, the meeting was longer and more formal than our club meetings. Lunch (lamb and vegetables if I remember correctly) was served whereas we have a buffet and get our own breakfast when we arrive. On the plus side it gave me more time to talk to people around the table.
I'm planning to visit more clubs as time allows, which brings me onto my next club visit...