Rotary theme for August is membership. This may be the most critical challenge for Rotary activities in Finland and Scandinavia. Total number of members in our District is 2220, but number was ten years back nearly 200 more. It does not help much that development in many other Districts in Finland has been worse and in Sweden and Norway even worse. In Finland and particularly in our District, critical is low proportion of female and young members. Only 11 % of our members are women. In three decades average age of Rotarians in Finland has increased by ten years. Even though above mentioned figures may feel depressing, it is good to know what we should do in order to fix current situation.
Emphasis has to be put to increase systematically proportion of female and young members. In our District there is still too many clubs having only male members. However, many of them have already made a decision to take female members, but unfortunately it is not so easy for women to come members in a club having only elderly men. Activities in the club play important role in this. Kyrösjärvi RC, where I recently visited, has an excellent idea to arrange a special event to tell about Rotary activities and ask potential female members to participate. Women are more likely to be interested in activities and therefore I encourage clubs to take a step to activate themselves. According to experience women have brought with them vitality to the clubs. Concerning young potential members, clubs could consider local youth organizations, like 4H and Scouts, and particularly young leaders in them who have already outgrown from these organizations. I am confident that lowering club age structure and female membership are strongly interlinked. Consequently, having female members could be starting point for positive membership development and activation of the club. It is important to personally invite potential new members to come to visit the club and consider membership.
In addition to attract new members, equally important is to maintain current members. Nowadays time – particularly of parents with children – is challenged by many other hobbies and responsibilities. Club activities need therefore be so interesting that participation will be prioritized. General Secretary of RI, John Hewko, has used the term “Club experience”. It means that one participating the club meeting has feeling that it was worth of coming and is willing to come next time again. What would be in our club such that would make it worth of coming? It is good to think about this. Busy people may feel it challenging to participate in a meeting every week. Therefore RI made a decision last spring that the clubs may be more flexible in deciding their schedule for meetings. Now it is possible to have meetings only every second week, but the clubs should thing about what is suitable meeting rhythm for them. There is also a risk, if a club is meeting unfrequently, and it may not be solution for all clubs.
In the end I like to emphasize of e-communication and registration in the My Rotary, www.myrotary.org, that I already mentioned in my July letter. There is also a Million Dollar Project that aims to collect in whole Finland million dollars during the Rotary year. For each Rotarian this makes 80 €. I challenge each club and Rotarian in our District to participate and think about how achieve the Goal.
Autumn meeting in the District will be held in Sastamala in Saturday, October 1, 2016, and every club is welcomed to participate actively. Other important coming events are Rotary Institute in Arlanda, Sweden, October 7-9 and Rotary World Conference in Atlanta, USA, June 10-14, 2017. Participating in these can make you to get “Big Picture” of Rotary.
I wish every Rotarian in our District Happy early autumn and coming back to Rotary actions!
Governor Rotary District 1410
D 1410 attendance report June 2016